Is it normal for swelling to START 6 weeks out after a tummy tuck? (I didn't really have any before).

My swelling was pretty minimal after my tummy tuck (with full muscle repair) and kept going down. I did not need Lipo. At 5 weeks I was SO flat. At 6 weeks however, I ballooned up. There is no additional pain, and there is no fluid motion under my skin indicating a seroma. Is this normal to have swelling start like this 6 weeks out? Should I expect intermit swelling, and if so, for how long? Thanks!

Doctor Answers 4

6 weeks post-op swelling?

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It is not necessarily common to have swelling 6 weeks after a tummy tuck, however it may be caused by trying to get back to a normal routine and maybe not wearing your garment any longer. Prior to 6 weeks, most patients are taking it easy, are not back to work full-time and are not on their feet very much or for very long. Also, this time of year is extremely busy for most, as well, so take a look at your routine and see if maybe you've increased your activity. It's always best to check in with your Plastic Surgeon, as well and 6 weeks is usually a fairly common time to check in. You want your surgeon to rule out a late seroma.

Dr. K

Swelling 6 weeks after surgery

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is not something I would consider 'normal'.   However, you have already clinically excluded a seroma so that only leaves intra-abdominal swelling (gas/constipation?) as a culprit.  If the swelling comes and goes, its likely nothing serious but if it persists, you need to let your surgeon know as further studies could be done (ie: ultrasound) to help determine what may be causing your swelling.

Is it normal for swelling to START 6 weeks out after a tummy tuck? (I didn't really have any before).

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Swelling after tummy tuck is normal for the first 4 to 6 weeks. But swelling occurring after 6 weeks when all was fine before should be checked by your surgeon. It may just be due to increased activity, but seroma and fluid collection can occur, also there may have been failure of the muscle repair. I recommend that my patients wear a garment for the first 6 weeks and avoid abdominal exercize for 2 months after TT.

Swelling after Tummy Tuck Surgery?

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No, I would not say that it is “normal” to notice increased swelling 6 weeks after tummy tuck surgery. However, patients do report increased swelling as they become more active during this time period.  They also tend to report more swelling at the end of the day.  

Generally speaking 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.

 Giving your concerns, best to be seen by your plastic surgeon, earlier than already scheduled if necessary, for an in-person examination.

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.