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Infected Incision 3 Weeks Post Op from Tummy Tuck. Should I Worry? (photo)

3 weeks ago I had a breast lift with implant, tummy tuck and lipo of the flanks. Attached is a picture of my tummy tuck incision. Is this something I should worry about?

Doctor Answers 14

Tummy Tuck - Infected Incision 3 Weeks Post Op from Tummy Tuck. Should I Worry?

What you need is appropriate wound care.

You have more than an "infected incision;" you appear to have (cannot say for sure via this forum) wound separation due to some necrosis.  This is a well-known potential complication of this surgery and the majority of the time it can be treated with local wound care and it will produce a nice result, even though you may need a scar revision at some point in the future in order to achieve that.

However, I'm concerned about your umbilicus (belly button).  That, too, can have problems with wound healing, but it may be more difficult to address that.

You should (of course) be seen by your own plastic surgeon or, in the absence of that being possible, by another plastic surgeon near you who can guide you through the care you'll need, both at this point and going forward.  You should ultimately do well, but you need to be under the care of an experience plastic surgeon.

I hope that this helps, and good luck,

Dr. E

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Wound Separation after Tummy Tuck?

Thanks for the question picture.

What you are experiencing is a known complication after tummy tuck surgery. It is unclear to me whether you infection are skin irritation/redness.  There are a variety of ways to treat this problem but it does usually resolve within a matter of weeks.

I would defer to your plastic surgeon for specific treatment plan.  Please continue regular follow-up with him/her.

I hope this helps.

Infected incision 3 weeks post-op tummy tuck needs detailed care by your surgeon.

You are right to be concerned about the condition of your incision and umbilicus. I'm a bit worried that you are on-line asking questions, but I will assume that you are getting "unofficial second opinions" regarding what your own surgeon is telling you. Continued follow-up visits, antibiotic therapy, wound care including possible surgical debridement (removing the dead tissue), and particularly examining your breasts to ensure the highest likelihood they do not become infected also are critical to this turning out well.

If you are a smoker or are exposed to second-hand smoke, this could be the CAUSE of the initial wound breakdown, and infection a secondary complication of the loss of blood circulation that nicotine exposure can cause. It's too late now to "bring back to life" the skin and tissue that have died from lack of proper circulation, but it's not too late to limit the amount of additional tissue loss and damage that both poor circulation AND/OR infection can cause.

This is why we constantly are telling our tummy tuck, facelift, and breast lift patients to avoid tobacco or nicotine in ANY form before and after these circulation-critical operations. And YES, even ONE cigarette or exposure to second-hand smoke can cause skin death that leads to precisely the kinds of wound problems your photos show. If you are a non-smoker and were never exposed to the bad effects of nicotine, this kind of wound problem can still occur from inadequate circulation, or when an incisional infection or stitch abscesses develop. The black appearance of your umbilicus and several areas of your central tummy tuck scar look more like circulation impairment first, then infection developing in the dead or ischemic tissues. Fat dies first, then skin, which is why your incision initially looks a little red, then "suddenly" opens up to the wounds that look so terrible!

All that being said, any surgeon who has done several hundred tummy tucks has occasionally seen wounds like this, and careful follow-up visits every few days at first, then at least weekly (more if needed) will get things healed up as quickly as possible, and hopefully avoid problems with your breasts or liposuction areas. This CAN be a big deal if ignored or inadequately treated! When it all heals, a fairly simple scar revision can improve the increased scarring this kind of wound healing problem will cause, though the final scarring will be surprisingly "not as bad" as the appearance of the wound will imply.

See your surgeon ASAP if not already doing so. Good luck and best wishes!

Richard H. Tholen, MD, FACS
Minneapolis Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 169 reviews

You need local wound care

You have local wound infection/dehiscence and should be treated by your surgeon. You will be fine in long run. You may require scar revision in 6-9 months.

Kamran Khoobehi, MD
New Orleans Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 67 reviews

Incision post abdominoplasty

You should be seen by your plastic surgeon right away and followed closely by that individual. The surgeon is the best one to treat you.

Rick Rosen, MD
Norwalk Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

See your surgeon asap

You should see your surgeon as soon as possible. Your incision is infected and requires immediate attention. 

Marginal necrosis after an abdominoplasty

Marginal necrosis at the wound edge especially in the midline is not unusual following an abdominoplasty. With conservative management it will get better. Your plastic surgeon will help you get this area healed.

Jeffrey Zwiren, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

Evaluation for debridement is warranted


It looks like you may have some skin and soft-tissue necrosis (lack of blood supply).  If this is in fact the case you would benefit from debridement to help expedite the healing process.  Regardless if it is a blood supply issue or an infection you should be evaluated by your plastic surgeon as this will require his/her guidance and intervention to help you heal as efficiently as possible. 

All the best,

Dr Repta

Remus Repta, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 111 reviews

Infection post tummy tuck

This looks like you are spitting sutures which is not uncommon.Usually your surgeon will remove the sutures and then this should resolve.i often place patients on soem antibiotics to calm things down.

Robert Brueck, MD
Fort Myers Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 32 reviews

Post tummy tuck incision issues.

What you are experiencing appears to be a dehiscence (separation) of the incision which may or may not be related to infection. The surgery decreases the blood supply to the incision and places it under tension - both of these factors can contribute to a separation of the incision. Frequent follow up with your surgeon and appropriate wound care are usually all that is required. After this heals, you may wish to have a revision of the final scar if it is widened or unaesthetic. The key point however is close follow up with your plastic surgeon.

David Bogue, MD
Boca Raton Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 12 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.