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Swelling from Naval to Pubis 10 Weeks After Tummy Tuck? (photo)

I had an extended tummy tuck 10 wks ago. My drains were in14 days, then removed only because the PS doesn't allow them in longer. Afterward I developed an infection at the drain site which was treated w/antibiotics & resolved. Now I notice that I have swelling in a very distinct area of my abdomen, beginning right below my naval & extending all the way into the pubis about 6" across. It is also quite numb. I now have a "pot belly," NOT the look I was after. What is this & will it go away w/time?

Doctor Answers (6)

Swelling after Tummy Tuck


According to your information it appears you were still having drainage two weeks postop.  It is quite likely that you have continued to accumulate swelling fluid after removal of your drains and this has resulted in a seroma.  Your surgeon should be able to determine this by physical examination and treat it with aspiration.  Multiple aspirations may be necessary and wearing a compression garment should be helpful.  Numbness is to be expected and should gradually improve over time.

Saint Louis Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

Swelling from Naval to Pubis


Thanks for your question. I cannot tell much from the photo, but from the narrative it seems that you may have a fluid collection, or seroma. Your surgeon should be able to tell this quite readily at the time of an examination, and the treatment is aspiration. Occasionally this is required several times. Replacing a drain is another possibility. 

Numbness is universal after TT. Some sensation will return gradually over the course of a year. 

This will go away, but with intervention.  (There are other possible causes, but the time course you describe makes a seroma seem most likely.)

Thanks and best wishes.

Jourdan Gottlieb, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Post operative swelling after tummy tuck


Swelling follows all surgeries.  This is a necessary part of the healing process. However, if you have swelling that is recent and has developed since the drains have been removed, the evidence is strong that you have developed a seroma. This is a fluid collection that can be  aspirated in your doctors office. 

The numbness is standard and will improve with time. 

A follow up visit with your surgeon will help clear up some of these questions. 

Douglas Hargrave, M.D.



Douglas Hargrave, MD
Albany Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

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You will want to make sure that you do not have a seroma



Thank you for the question and photo.  I would make sure that you have not developed a seroma.  Swelling below your belly button this late after your tummy tuck may be a seroma.  If it is a seroma you will want the fluid drained until it no longer collects.

All the best,

Dr Remus Repta 

Remus Repta, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 81 reviews

Swelling and numbness after tummy tuck


You just might have a small seroma causing the lower fullness, and support such as a Spanx can help it resolve. Numbness is the rule after tummy tuck, and will take a full nine months to get better.

Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

See your surgeon. Then wait.


First of all, let your surgeon see you to make certain you do not have an infection (abscess) or fluid collection (seroma) causing the swelling. If none of those are present, you will need to wait a few months before assesing the final result as swelling can remain for quite a while after surgery and should continue to improve. If after it stops improving there is still more skin and fat than you would like, you may consider having it tightened up further with a smaller procedure. You may wonder why it wasn't pulled as tight as possible the first time. The answer is because there is a limit to how tight your surgeon can pull things together before there is a risk of the skin dying or not healing which are even more undesirable than a little residual pooch. 

Armin Moshyedi, MD
Bethesda Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 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.