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Why Are my Legs Swollen Weeks After Tummy Tuck?

I had a tummy tuck May 23rd and am still pretty swollen, but really swollen in my legs (upper thighs). What's going on? And I think I might be losing hair. HELP

Doctor Answers 10

It is NOT normal to have significantly swollen legs a...

It is NOT normal to have significantly swollen legs a month after a tummy tuck. The greatest serious risk of abdominoplasty surgery is blood clots in the leg veins and this can show up as leg swelling.

Have your doctor check you for this with an ultrasound exam of the veins to be sure you don't have any clots. Otherwise, wear support stockings and be sure you aren't wearing an abdominal binder that is too tight.

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Leg swelling months after Tummy Tuck unusual

It is extremely unusual to have leg swelling almost 9 months after a tummy tuck.  Swelling may be due to obstruction of your lymphatics or from clots in the legs Either way, you should be examined by your doctor, and maybe by a vascular surgeon.

Steven Wallach, MD
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

Tummy tuck complications

I am very concerned. My initial thought is that the lymph system that drains fluid from your legs (the system connected to lymph nodes that exists throughout your body) has been disrupted. I have never seen this with a tummy tuck.

You may need to have aggressive treatment for lymphedema including compression and elevation. I would look for providers in your area with experience with lymphedema. Perhaps call the general surgery department or plastic surgery department at the closest university to you. This should be addressed right away.

Pramit Malhotra, MD
Ann Arbor Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 38 reviews

Swollen legs after tummy tuck

I recommend you see your surgeon as soon as you can regarding the swelling in your legs. Have you been leisurely walking around during your recovery? This can help ease the swelling and keep your circulation going. Swelling increases when you aren't active and lie around in bed all day. 

Why Are my Legs Swollen Weeks After Tummy Tuck?

It is unusual to have swollen lower extremities 5 weeks following an abdominoplasty. This condition could be caused by a blood clot in the legs or pelvis or blockage of lymphatic drainage.  In the early postop days walking should help relieve swelling in the lower extremities.  But if it persists then evaluation needs to be undertaken to determine the best method of treatment.

Paul Vitenas, Jr., MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 46 reviews

Leg Swelling after Tummy Tuck Requires Immediate Attention !

Leg swelling after abdominoplasty always needs to be immediately evaluated by your surgeon. Fortunately, this is most uncommon after tummy tuck. This can be post-operative fluid retention (early on), or blood clots in your legs or pelvis.  Although I have never seen this after abdominoplasty,  the swelling might rarely be related to your lymph system drainage (lyphedema).

In any case, you need to be evaluated with an ultrasound of your venous system, if your surgeon thinks that you may have deep vein thrombosis as the cause of your swelling. If you have experienced the onset of shortness of breath, as well as your leg swelling, you need to proceed immediately with a visit to the hospital emergency room for evaluation.

Douglas J. Raskin, MD, DMD
Colorado Springs Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Swollen legs post tummy tuck.

It is quite unusual for your legs to be swollen after a tummy tuck. I would highly recommend you contact your surgeon immediatly as this can be a serious situation such as clotting. Did you wear your compression stocking post surgery? Walking is also important post surgery to keep the blood flowing in your legs... Best of luck to you.

Jaime Perez, MD
Tampa Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 37 reviews

Preventing Leg Swelling After An Abdominoplasty

One of the key elements in preventing leg swelling is to walk frequently (6-8 times per week for 10-15 minutes each time) and not lay in a dependent manner (have your legs elevated). Also, if you have had liposuction and you’re wearing a garment it is good to take the garment off for at least 24-48 hours. If you have asymmetric leg swelling or pain in your calf or thigh then you need to have it evaluated as soon as possible with your doctor to rule out a deep venous thrombosis (DVT). 

Rod J. Rohrich, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 20 reviews

Swollen legs after tummy tuck- see your plastic surgeon ASAP

Swelling in the lower extremities after a tummy tuck is possible.

The most important thing is to have your plastic surgeon evaluate you to make sure that the swelling is not dangerous or caused by clots in your leg. This is especially important if the swelling is below the knee.

If your surgeon suspects a clot, ultrasound and blood work may need to be done immediately.

If a clot is not responsible, he or she may recommend special garments, a change in your diet or medication.

Do not delay in seeing your surgeon. Both of you will be glad that you did.

Pat Pazmino, MD, FACS
Board Certified, American Board of Plastic Surgery

Pat Pazmino, MD
Miami Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 63 reviews

Legs are swollen after tummy tuck

You want to make sure that both your leg veins and your lymphatic system are working properly. I suspect that because your thighs are swollen, that this is probably a lymphatic issue. It can happen that your superficial lymphatic system is somewhat compromised after the surgery; some people also have a lymphatic system that is not 100% and they notice a difference after surgery. I agree the best thing to do is to consult a vascular surgeon who can examine you and make sure that everything is OK. As for hair loss, this could be for many different reasons. Consult a dermatologist who treats hair loss. Hope this helps.

Tracy Pfeifer, MD
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 20 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.