Belt lipectomy, what is wrong with my upper stomach? (photos)

12 Aug 2016 12 months post I had a tummy tuck with muscle repair. I asked my doctor about it. He checked and said it wasn't fluid. I've gained about 5 pounds in the past year. I've had the belt lipectomy, a broken foot, a breast reduction and carpel tunnel operation on both hands in 10 months time. I go to the gym regularly and I knew I would possibly gain some weight with the laying around I've had to do.

Doctor Answers 2

Fullness in the upper abdomen 1 month post-op after tummy tuck may be due to the muscle repair

You are quite early after your surgery to tell what the final result will look like, but there are a couple of things that I can suggest that might be related to what you are seeing.  First, the lower abdomen is typically easier to tighten than the upper abdomen.  This mostly has to do with limitations imposed by the rib cage and the larger, less compressible organs, like the liver, in the upper abdomen.  Thus, unless the muscle repair is spot-on, we may have a situation like "squeezing a tube of toothpaste in the middle," wherein the lower muscle is tighter than the upper, and the upper tends to bulge out a bit.  In the worst case scenario, and I'm not suggesting this is the case with you necessarily, the upper muscle repair can actually weaken, and we can get recurrent bulging of the abdomen just in that area.  The stomach is also in the upper abdomen, so eating can cause intermittent distention of the upper abdomen, as the stomach fills and presses out toward the abdominal muscles.  In addition to this, any weight gain at this point is usually seen in the "belly fat," or intra-abdominal visceral fat compartment around the organs, and this will also increase pressure in the abdominal space, which can make the abdomen bulge more too.  At this point, the best advice I can offer is first to follow your surgeon's recommendations about activity, diet, and garment wear very closely.  Make sure you communicate your concerns openly and honestly with your surgeon and allow him to evaluate your abdomen in person.  He is best able to tell you what's going on as he is the one that knows exactly how your surgery was done and can examine you postoperatively to assess the status of your muscle.  Especially be careful about gaining any weight at this point, as that will only serve to increase the fullness of your abdomen.  Try not to be too worried at this stage, as things will improve over time as swelling resolves, tissue tensions rebalance, and diet and exercise become more normal.  Best of luck.

San Diego Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 87 reviews

Fullness to upper abdomen

Thank you so much for your question. When you think of tummy tucks or belt lipectomy as taking a large thick blanket and pulling it down and making it tight. The problem is it's not thinned out because the risk of the tissue dying is too high. So a common complication is residue fullness to the upper abdomen. Liposuction to this area can help. I would suggest discussing this with your plastic surgeon again. Best of luck.

William J. Hedden, MD
Birmingham Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 321 reviews

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