Belly Button Discharge After Tummy Tuck

I had a Tummy Tuck done on 10/28. My belly button has been seeping discharge and has an odor. I have been cleaning it with peroxide, but it has not helped. There also seems to be a small hole just inside as well. What should I do? When will it heal?

Doctor Answers 20

Belly button blues


Three weeks out from your tummy tuck your belly button should be healed. There are occasions when it takes slightly longer to heal, especially if the circulation to the belly button has been injured (sometimes unavoidable). Malodorous drainage may also be a result of an infected deep stitch. Your plastic surgeon should be able to discern the difference between the two and direct your treatment. Peroxide is a very toxic solution and kills not only bacteria, but the normal cells needed for healing, so be careful with its use. Good luck!

A buried stitch may be the most likely culprit.

The belly button usually heals within 2-3 weeks after an abdominoplasty. depending on the type of sutures used, an infected suture, a "spitting suture" or a suture that should have come out but is still in may be the answer.

A quick visit back to your surgeon should easily clarify the source of the bad smell. If it is a retained suture, removing it is a simple process. If antibiotics are needed your surgeon will prescribe them.

The value of washing wounds with peroxide is overstated. Peroxide will delay healing. Mild soap and water is all you need.

Francisco Canales, MD
Santa Rosa Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 35 reviews

Do not mess around, see your surgeon!

A foul smelling discharge from an open wound is abnormal! Causes may range from very simple to very complex...which could be potentially dangerous. Bottom line is STOP messing around and go see your surgeon immediately. In general, complications following surgery are usually treated easier early rather than late.

Stephen A. Goldstein, MD, FACS

Stephen A. Goldstein, MD
Englewood Plastic Surgeon

It's most likely because of a stitch, but cannot be too careful

Sometimes discharge or small opening can be associated with "spitting sutures." Spitting suture is a term used when a buried, absorbable suture becomes exposed, therefore, losing it's absorbability. These spitting sutures can be easily removed by your surgeon. A quick visit back to your surgeon whom can help determine the exact cause. It also can be associated with infection, so make sure you check it with your surgeon.

Contemplating Your Navel? - Use Your Surgeon's Eyes

After Abdominoplasty or Tummy Tuck, there can be some delayed healing of the umbilicus (belly-button/navel). Healing of the umbilicus depends on the remaining blood supply from the abdominal wall, and occasionally this can be compromised especially when the abdominal wall (rectus diastasis) is tightened with sutures. Sometimes, antibiotic ointment or dried blood accumulates in the depth of the umbilicus as well, which may cause a discharge or odor.

You should see your surgeon to make sure that healing is progressing as expected. You may require more antibiotics, or the drainage may be sign of a seroma or fluid pocket which could lead to infection.

Athleo Louis Cambre, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

Probably Nothing Abnormal!

Belly Buttons are separated from the surrounding tissue during a tummy tuck. The belly button is left attached to the muscle and fascia and it is these attachments that provide blood supply to the skin. Sometimes the blood supply is marginal and that can make healing delayed in comparison to other parts of the tummy tuck. Keeping it clean with soap and water is excellent. Keeping the area moist with bacitracin or neosporin also helps. Small areas of breakdown and seepage are common. However, sometimes something worse is occuring so tell your doctor.

Robert M. Freund, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Check with your doctor

Sometimes the umbilicus has some delayed healing. Usually they go on to heal without any problems. You may want your surgeon to evaluate you. Sometimes there is a retained suture that prevents it from healing on its own. I am not a big fan of peroxide because it can be tissue toxic. Usually I recommend daily showers and dry dressings.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 24 reviews

See your surgeon

Please see your surgeon to check this out. Discharge that has a bad odor often indicates an infection, and this needs to be addressed right away. Best of luck.

Foreign body removal after Tummy Tuck

It is most likely a foreign body causing the infection. Usually it is a suture that might need removal. Check with your surgeon again for possible removal.

Hisham Seify, MD, PhD, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

Belly Button drainage can be caused by a buried suture knot

Typically when recreating the umbilicus a buried absorbable suture may be used. Sometimes these become exposed or infected thus causing the drainage. You need an examination to determine the cause. If it is the suture knot then it needs to be removed. Also there could be an area of fat necrosis, which is dead fat, this will also cause some drainage.

Jeffrey Zwiren, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 16 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.