How Do I Know if the Swelling Has Subsided from Tummy Tuck?

It had been 12 days since my Tummy Tuck and I can't fit into my jeans yet. Is this normal? I thought I would be smaller. I don't have the roll of fat I use to have, so how can I tell if its swollen or if this is it? I've been wearing my husband's sweatpants, and I'm hoping I can start wearing my normal clothes. Thanks for any information you can give me.

Doctor Answers (4)

Swelling after Tummy Tuck

+3

Thanks for your question -
It is common to have abdominal swelling after abdominoplasty.

Abdominal contour is dependent on:
Skin envelope
Abdominal fat (subcutaneous and intrabdominal)
Muscles tightness
Intrinsic Swelling
Fluid collections

Skin Envelope -
People complaining of "abdominal bulge" after tummy tuck typically do not have issues with too much skin - that points to issues underneath the skin.

Abdominal fat -
This can be an issue in people who may be a little bit over their ideal body weight at the time of abdominoplasty. Ways to fix this include the tried and true diet and exercise or liposuction. Be sure to allow enough time between tummy tuck and liposuction to minimize complications.

Muscle tightness -
Muscles plication (or tightening) is usually a part of abdominoplasty. Either failure of the sutures or some laxity can cause a bulge. If the change in your contour was sudden or if you felt a pop - think about the plication having ruptured.

Swelling -
This can be the most common cause of contour issues post-abdominoplasty. Patients typically have swelling for two reasons. First surgery causes trauma and the body's response to trauma is to bring additional fluid into the area that has been traumatized. In addition, abdominoplasty involves dividing lymphatic channels (very very small conduits that normally pull fluid out of tissue) - until these channels grow back the area will not be able to remove excess fluid.
It is usually the most dependent (lowest) part of the surgery that stays swollen the longest.
The majority of swelling usually resolves after the first 4-6 weeks but there may be residual swelling for up to 6 months.

Fluid collections -
Seromas (serous fluid collections) or hematomas (collections of old blood) can cause distortions of contour. Normally this will improve on its own but may require drainage.

I hope this helps.


San Francisco Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 22 reviews

Swelling After Tummy Tuck

+1
It is still early on in your recovery so any swelling is still probably very prominent. Swelling can last for months to a year, but you should be able to fit into your jeans again after this swelling subsides. 

Jerome Edelstein, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 51 reviews

Tummy tuck swelling

+1

12 days after surgery is way too soon to get back into your regular pants.  Remember you will more than likely have swelling for several weeks if not months.

Steven Wallach, MD
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

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Tummy Tuck and Swelling

+1

12 days is very early on and it takes about 4 months before a lot of the swelling has subsided.  So it is hard to say if you have fluid collection (seroma) or something else is going.

I would advise you to see your plastic surgeon and have him or her address your concerns.

Farbod Esmailian, MD
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 31 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.