Bulge Above Belly Button 6 Weeks Post Tummy Tuck? (photo)

Six weeks ago I had a tummy tuck and have just started going with out my compression garment. It has been completely flat until today when I noticed the area above my belly button is sticking out quite far. It looks a bit freakish. I know the stomach is there, but the bulge is quite obvious! Almost shelf like. Is this swelling?? Or what else could be causing this? I had lipo of the flanks & muscle repair done as well. I have a slight hernia behind my BB as well, noticed post-op :(

Doctor Answers 5

Bulge Above Belly Button After Abdominoplasty

Six weeks after surgery this area of localized prominence could be fluid beneath the skin flap, such as a seroma. It could also represent soft tissue swelling that is now more evident since you stopped wearing your garment. Lastly, it could be an area of muscle weakness like the hernia beneath your belly button. I would resume wearing your compression garment and discuss your concerns with your surgeon.  

Swelling above belly button after tummy tuck

Great question. The area above the belly button can appear swollen after a tummy tuck, and this is usually due to 1) fluid, or, 2) residual fat, or 3) separation of the muscles. Since your swelling started when you stopped wearing your compression garment, it is most likely fluid. There can be two types of fluid ... swelling in the tissues (which is natural after a tummy tuck), or a fluid collection (seroma). If it's just swelling in the tissues, then wearing your compression garment and massaging it can help. If it's a seroma, then your plastic surgeon can help address that.  So the best thing for you to do is to return to your plastic surgeon and discuss the situation with him or her. I hope that helps and wish you all the best!

Pseudo bursa/encapsulated seroma

Thank you for your post. Seromas can be painful and cause a cosmetic deformity, as well as sometimes leak. The whole point of drains is to keep a seroma from happening in the first place. If a drainless procedure was performed, and you had a seroma, or you had drains that were pulled and you subsequently had a seroma, then you should be drained, otherwise a capsule builds around the fluid making it permanent. If a capsule builds around the seroma (pseudo bursa or encapsulated seroma) then the only way to remove the seroma is to surgically open the areas and excise the capsule, and close over drains to prevent another seroma from happening. If the seroma is encapsulated and is tight and painful, then it can be confused with just swelling or fat. An ultrasound is useful in distinguishing these and identifying the extent of the seroma. If the seroma is not yet encapsulated, then it is usually loose and has a 'fluid wave' or water bed type feel. Occasionally, a seroma can also become infected, especially if a permanent braided suture was used. This will have a hot, red appearance, and will eventually open up. I have never seen an infection from sterile aspiration of fluid.
Best wishes,
Pablo Prichard, MD

Pablo Prichard, MD
Phoenix Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

Swelling after a tummy tuck

It appears as though you may have a fluid collection or some of the stitches have loosened.  I would recommend returning to your plastic surgeon to make sure everything is okay.

Swelling above belly button

From your photos you may have some swelling or may have accumulated some fluid under the skin called a seroma.  You should see you PS to discuss this.

good luck

Delio Ortegon, MD
San Antonio Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 23 reviews

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