Bladder Retention After Tummy Tuck

Eight days after my tummy tuck an ultrasound was performed to see why my abdomen was so distended. My bladder was enlarged so a catheter was put in place and I was retaining over 2 liters of urine. Ive since had my catheter in and out twice but still unable to urinate on my own. The catheter I have in place is to stay in for a week and then I will see a Urologist. I'd like to know if any of you surgeons have had experience with this and if so what were the outcomes.

Doctor Answers 5

Urine Retention after Tummy Tuck

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Inability to void or pass urine is a condition which can sometimes occur following tummy tucks or any surgical procedure.  When your bladder contains as much as yours did when catheterized, the bladder often loses muscle tone and the catheter needs to remain in place (indwelling) for a few days.

Louisville Plastic Surgeon

Bladder Distention

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There are multiple reasons for the  urine retention post surgery. the most common is the bladder irritation during the surgery because of the Foley catheter. The other reason is the effect of the muscle relaxants and pain medication. You will be fine and may need bladder training with clamping the catheter for few hours. Your urologist will take care of it.

Kamran Khoobehi, MD
New Orleans Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 153 reviews

Bladder problems after tummy tuck

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I have seen this in a couple of patients following surgery, including tummy tuck.  If a urinary catheter is not placed during a long surgery and the bladder over-distends, this can happen.  It can also happen even if a catheter is used due to the effects of muscle relaxants and pain medications on the muscles of the bladder and this can interfere with the normal bladder emptying.  Both patients were seen by a urologist, treated with catheters and bladder training, and both regained full and normal function of their bladder.  Although you have hit a small bump in the road to recovery, and it certainly is inconvenient, it should resolve. Do not worry.

Unable to urinate after tummy tuck

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Urinary retention can be seen after general anesthesia, and bladder distention during surgery. Some individuals have a history of such after procedures other than tummy tuck and let us know if we might run into a problem. A catheter will relieve the pressure and rest the bladder muscle which is all that is needed for most to recover. For others a visit with the urologist, and perhaps medication will set things straight. The outcome? With help you can expect to recover bladder function.

Best of luck,


Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 44 reviews

Urinary retention after tummy tuck

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The problem can start soon after surgery, if the bladder is allowed to distend in the first place.  Once urinary retention persists beyond the initial post-op period, evaluation by a urologist is very important. 

Malik Kutty, MD
Sugar Land Plastic Surgeon

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.