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Is This Just Swelling or Will I Ever Be Flat? (photo)

I had surgery 6 weeks ago. I was really flat the first few days. After about a week, I pulled my drains bc they were always low. By the time I made it to my PS (about 5 days later), my lower abs (below my belly button from left to right) was hard as a brick. My PS said that it was fluid and that I was abnormally swollen. I've been going back weekly. I'm still draining from a hole in my incision. My lower are softening but now, my upper abs are getn big?? I see flab when I sit and stand??

Doctor Answers (4)

Swelling after Tummy Tuck

+1

   Anytime the abdomen becomes larger several weeks after tummy tuck, fluid collection should be suspected and drained.  You do not want a fluid collection to become mature with a capsule around it as this will influence final result.  Kenneth Hughes, MD Los Angeles, CA


Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 180 reviews

Is this Normal Swelling?

+1

6 weeks after a tummy tuck, a good portion of your swelling is gone but there is still some normal swelling that remains.  In your case specifically, it sounds like your surgeon is/was concerned about a seroma, which is an abnormal fluid collection.  You need to be re-examined to see if this is this case.  If it is, your surgeon will need to drain it.  Good luck.

Sacha Obaid, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

Is This Just Swelling or Will I Ever Be Flat?

+1

You might need re insertion of a drainage system in your case. Please seek medical evaluation for retained seroma. 

Darryl J. Blinski, MD
Miami Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 61 reviews

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"Swelling" after Tummy Tuck Surgery?

+1

Thank you for the question.
As always, it is best to be seen in person ( by your plastic surgeon) for precise diagnosis and treatment.
Abdominal wall "swelling" after tummy tuck may be related to:
1. Swelling in the soft tissues.  This may take several months to resolve and may worsen with increased activity  or at the end of the day.   Patience  is required to allow for resolution of the swelling. The swelling occurs because of the interruption of venous and lymphatic channels that occurs during the tummy tuck operation.
2. Fluid accumulation in the space between the skin and the abdominal wall muscle.  this may consist of blood ( hematoma)  or serum (seroma).  This fluid accumulation can generally be diagnosed by physical examination ( occasionally ultrasound  may be helpful).  Treatment consists of aspiration;  several episodes of aspiration may be necessary. 
3. Separation of the abdominal wall muscle repair may lead to a swelling/bulge appearance. This may be diagnosed on physical examination  with your surgeon examining you in different bodily positions. One of the steps of a tummy tuck procedure involves reapproximation (plication)  of the rectus muscles.  These muscles have spread apart during pregnancy and/or weight gain. Bringing them together again in the midline helps to “tighten” the abdominal wall as well as to narrow the waistline.
4. Residual adipose tissue may be confused for swelling. Again this is most easily diagnosed by physical examination. Additional liposuction surgery maybe necessary to improve the results of surgery.
Generally, it takes many months for swelling to resolve after tummy tuck surgery and it may take up to one year  (or greater)  a complete skin redraping  to occur.
I hope this helps.

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 682 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.