Not Happy 2.5 Months out and Still So Swollen Above my Belly Button? (photo)

I posted this question and the drs asked for pics so i added them. I had a full tummy tuck with lipo of my upper abs. but since day 1 I have either been extremely swollen in my upper abs or there was no lipo done. I am extremely frustrated. I am 2.5 months post op and it looks like a fat bulged, then then belly button goes in then a little swelling below the belly button which I assume is normal. My tummy looks strange- any thoughts?

Doctor Answers 9

Tummy tuck results at 2.5 months

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You appear to have a nice result and improvement from your tummy tuck.  You still appear swollen and hopefully your result will improve with time.  If you continue to be unhappy with the thickness of your tummy, I would consider liposuction at about 6 months post-op to further refine the result.

Abdominal bulging

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I would like to know whether your operation included muscle repair. There's much more to surgery than what meets the eye. Perhaps a second opinion might be in order. Best of luck.

Swelling or infection after tummy tuck and liposuction

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Dear Blonde.  The upper abdominal fullness is either swelling or bulging muscle.  If the muscles were tightened too much at the lower half of your abdomen, then the upper half will bulge out.  Discuss these issues with your plastic surgeon.

Not Happy 2.5 Months out

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Thanks for posting the frontal views. There is a hint of fullness in the upper abdomen, but a side view is really needed for better evalutation. 

I assume the navel picture is from a while ago. It shows a local infection probably related to an undissolved suture. If that is a current photo, your surgeon should see you to remove the suture. 

The fullness in the upper abdomen may have one or more of a number of contributing factors. 

  • swelling, still possible at less than three months
  • excess fat tissue in the upper abdomen
  • laxity of the the abdominal muscles.
  • fluid collection-blood (hemoatoma) or serum (seroma)
  • excess intra-abdominal contents, and if this, it iwould not have been addressed by the tummy tuck. 

Thanks for the added info, best wishes. 

Jourdan Gottlieb, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon

Tummy tuck and bulging.

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The photos provided don't really show much in the way of a bulge, a side photo is required. Bulging is typically due to swelling, excess fat, or the an inadequate muscle plication. Unfortunately, we can not make a diagnosis from photos. An actual exam is required. My recommendation is to see your plastic surgeon and have a frank discussion with him/her.

David Bogue, MD
Boca Raton Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Swelling or Muscle Laxity After Tummy Tuck

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   This may be residual swelling, additional subcutaneous fat, visceral fat, less than optimal plication, or fluid collection.   These are all easy to sort out during an exam.  The belly button may have a suture that needs to be removed.

Swollen after tummy tuck

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You appear to be swollen, and the picture of your belly button suggests an infection, or at least a wound complication.  Do you have any evidence of fluid collections?  it is not uncommon after a tummy tuck where liposuction was performed to develop a fluid collection.  See your surgeon.  You may also need some more liposuction when all is said and done.

Tummy tuck problems

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The fullness in the upper portion of your abdomen will declare itself once the swelling has completely resolved, usually by the 6 month mark.  It is either from fat that can be addressed with liposuction or is related to the rectus muscle plication, which could require re-plication to adequately address.  Your belly button appears to have a superficial infection or spitting suture.  I would definitely see your plastic surgeon so they can evaluate these issues with you.   

Not Happy 2.5 Months out and Still So Swollen Above my Belly Button?

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Thank you for the question.

As always, it is best to be seen in person ( by your plastic surgeon) for precise diagnosis and treatment.

Abdominal wall "swelling" after tummy tuck may be related to:

1. Swelling in the soft tissues.  This may take several months to resolve and may worsen with increased activity  or at the end of the day.   Patience  is required to allow for resolution of the swelling. The swelling occurs because of the interruption of venous and lymphatic channels that occurs during the tummy tuck operation.

2. Fluid accumulation in the space between the skin and the abdominal wall muscle.  this may consist of blood ( hematoma)  or serum (seroma).  This fluid accumulation can generally be diagnosed by physical examination ( occasionally ultrasound  may be helpful).  Treatment consists of aspiration;  several episodes of aspiration may be necessary. 

3. Separation of the abdominal wall muscle repair may lead to a swelling/bulge appearance. This may be diagnosed on physical examination  with your surgeon examining you in different bodily positions. One of the steps of a tummy tuck procedure involves reapproximation (plication)  of the rectus muscles.  These muscles have spread apart during pregnancy and/or weight gain. Bringing them together again in the midline helps to “tighten” the abdominal wall as well as to narrow the waistline.

4. Residual adipose tissue may be confused for swelling. Again this is most easily diagnosed by physical examination. Additional liposuction surgery maybe necessary to improve the results of surgery.

Generally, it takes many months for swelling to resolve after tummy tuck surgery and it may take up to one year  (or greater)  a complete skin redraping  to occur.

I hope this helps.

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.