Bulging of lower abdomen following tummy tuck. What should I do?

I had a full tummy tuck, with MR and liposculpture of my flanks over 2 months ago. While I accept it was a big procedure, and that my result is not going to be a washboard stomach; my lower abdomen is still bulging as if I'm showing the early signs of pregnancy! The area is very soft and I am certain it is simply fat, and loose skin, as it is still very pliable and I can pinch and pull it around, surely this should be tight? Feel as if I have wasted my money.

Doctor Answers 3

Abdominoplasty / tummy tuck looseness

Without your before, immediate postop, and current photos, it is hard to determine what structurally is going on.  If you could post those, they would be tremendously helpful.  You may have just residual swelling which may take a few more months to resolve especially in the lower abdomen.  Be patient with this area as it takes a while for the residual edema to work itself out.  If it still seems to be an issue, talk to your surgeon about your concerns.  Good luck.

New Haven Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Abdominoplasty surgery

Hi there
It is very difficult to comment on your situation without seeing your pre and post-operative pictures.

I would suggest you discuss your concerns with your plastic surgeon in more detail and express how you feel. As I am sure you know, it takes some months for everything to settle down so you must let the swelling settle.

Best of luck in your recovery

Paul Banwell

Paul Banwell, MBBS, FRCS
London Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 39 reviews

Bulging of lower abdomen following tummy tuck. What should I do?

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

Generally speaking, abdominal wall "bulge" 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.

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,487 reviews

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.