What exactly is normal swelling after a full abdominoplasty with liposuction and muscle repair?

I'm 9 days post-op and my lower abdomen looks more swollen than it was 3 days after the surgery. I don't see fluid accumulation like a seroma-it just looks a little bloated/poofy above the incision line and is not as flat as it was after surgery. Is this normal?

Doctor Answers 2

What exactly is normal swelling after a full abdominoplasty with liposuction and muscle repair?

Congratulations on having undergone the tummy tuck procedure. What you describe is commonly encountered after this procedure. Patients will like their “flatness” immediately after surgery; then, these same patients are disappointed for a period of time once swelling of the tissues occurs. In the longer term (this may take several months and even up to one year), the swelling dissipates and the skin of the abdominal wall "redrapes"  over the smaller underlying  musculoskeletal framework (where the abdominal wall muscles have been brought together again in the midline).

Sometimes, fluid accumulation (seroma or hematoma)  may cause the appearance of increased swelling; best to have your plastic surgeon evaluate you if you have noticed significant changes and/or have concerns.

I hope this, and the attached link, helps. Best wishes for an outcome that you will be very pleased with long-term.

San Diego Plastic Surgeon
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Post-Op Swelling

There is no "exactly". It is different for everyone. Swelling DOES typically maximize typically somewhere between day three and five so this sounds normal. it is worse above the incision because gravity pulls the swelling downward in the body and you can think of the scar as sort of a dam preventing the tissue fluid from moving further down thus causing a more localized fullness. If there is any question about it, see your surgeon.

Robert H. Hunsaker, MD
Miami Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 79 reviews

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