Ask a doctor

I Have a Bulge on One Side of my Belly Button That Moves to the Other Side when I Press on It. Is This Normal?

I am worried this could be trapped fluid that needs to be drained. I asked him at my appointment yesterday, and he said it is swelling that is normal 6 weeks post tummy tuck.

Doctor Answers (8)

Seroms after Tummy Tuck

+1
Thank you for your post. Seromas can be painful and cause a cosmetic deformity, as well as sometimes leak. The whole point of drains is to keep a seroma from happening in the first place. If a drainless procedure was performed, and you had a seroma, or you had drains that were pulled and you subsequently had a seroma, then you should be drained, otherwise a capsule builds around the fluid making it permanent. If a capsule builds around the seroma (pseudo bursa or encapsulated seroma) then the only way to remove the seroma is to surgically open the areas and excise the capsule, and close over drains to prevent another seroma from happening. If the seroma is encapsulated and is tight and painful, then it can be confused with just swelling or fat. An ultrasound is useful in distinguishing these and identifying the extent of the seroma. If the seroma is not yet encapsulated, then it is usually loose and has a 'fluid wave' or water bed type feel. Occasionally, a seroma can also become infected, especially if a permanent braided suture was used. This will have a hot, red appearance, and will eventually open up. I have never seen an infection from sterile aspiration of fluid.
Best wishes,
Pablo Prichard, MD


Phoenix Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Tummy tuck and moving bulge near the belly button

+1

Hi,  You probably have a trapped seroma that moves when pushed and it needs to be drained if it is able to be moved.  If your doctor feels that it is not a pocket but just tissue swelling, then this will resorb by itself over time..even to a year.  In my practice, it we were having this exchange of words on the phone or by email, my diagnosis would be a seroma and a simple tap of it in the office would prove it to be in the tissue or in a pocket.  Usually upper abdominal fluid will drop with gravity to the drains in the lower abdomen but sometimes fluid gets trapped in the belly button or upper abdominal areas and cannot get lower because of the abdominal tissue being reattached.  Stay close to your ps and make sure that he/she sees the situation and is able to give you answers.  if you feel that you need another opinion, then seek it. 

Steven M. Lynch, MD
Albany Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

Tummy Tuck - I Have a Bulge on One Side of my Belly Button That Moves to the Other Side when I Press on It. Is This Normal?

+1

Not necessarily - and I agree that you may benefit from having it drained.

It's pretty common to have at least some swelling at this early stage; it can take months for all of the swelling to go down.  That being said, swelling that shifts from one side to the other, particularly early on, is strongly suggestive of a little fluid being trapped there.  While much of it may be absorbed by the body, my preference is to withdraw that fluid (drain it) if at all possible.  This is a very minor procedure (performed under local anesthesia during which a needle is inserted) and is repeated every several days (about twice a week, as indicated) until we are sure that the fluid accumulation is being lessened and that the healing is progressing appropriately.

I would suggest that you contact your PS again and try to be seen in the next few days if possible.

I hope that this helps, and good luck,

Dr. E

Alan M. Engler, MD, FACS
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 148 reviews

You might also like...

Bulge by Bellybutton after Tummy Tuck

+1

At 6 weeks post-op, a bulge by your belly button may be one of 3 things- a small fluid collection or seroma, a bulge of fascia where the abdominal wall has been tightened, or a small hernia sac that was possibly not evident at the time of the surgery. If your doctor can not make the determination by examination, an ultrasound would be helpful. None of these causes are critical. A seroma will resolve or may be aspirated. A fascial bulge will soften over time. If a small hernia becomes painful or incarcerated (gets stuck), it may require surgical repair.

Karen Vaniver, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Tummy tuck

+1
This sounds like you might have a small Seroma in then area. I would contact your surgeon as it may benefit from drainge

David L. Abramson, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
3.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

Abdominal fluid/swelling after a tummy tuck

+1

Without an exam, I can't say for certain, but it is possible that it is either drainable fluid (a seroma) or swelling in the skin.  Your description sounds more like a small seroma.  It can be left alone if small, or it can be aspirated if you desire.  

Richard P. Rand, MD, FACS
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 48 reviews

Bulge around belly button after tummy tuck

+1

Post-operative swelling can last for months after a tummy tuck, and small fluid accumulations do not always require drainage.  Unfortunately, there is no way to assess your situation without a physical exam.  I would recommend that you continue close follow-up with your plastic surgeon, or, if you desire another opinion, arrange for an in person consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon.

Good luck.

 

Craig S. Rock, MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 16 reviews

Could be a seroma

+1

What you are describing could be a seroma which is a fluid collection.  Seromas are common for this operation and rarely cause any problems.  Not all seromas need to be drained. It depends on the size or amount of fluid and wether it will effect your outcome.  When your surgeon examines you he should be able to determine if it is a fluid collection or something else.

Albert Dabbah, MD
Boca Raton Plastic Surgeon

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.