9 Weeks Post Op: Swelling or Bloating? (photo)

I have had the best recovery since i had my tummy tuck with no drains on December 10th. I had no issue and my results have been amazing...until last week. My tummy started to get bigger and bigger, my skin stretches and althought its not painful, its not very comfortable. I found myself putting on my binder back, thinking it might reduce the swelling. It does not. My routine hasn't changed, i am not doing anything different from the last weeks, have regular BM, not pregnant. It this swelling??

Doctor Answers 6

Swelling or Bloating

Thank you for your question and for the posted photos. What this might be would best be resolved at an in person evaluation by your surgeon. 

Two possibilities that would require intervention come to mind among other possibilities. These include a fluid collection (seroma) and this would be accompanied by a sensation of fluid, with the abdomen feeling not unlike a waterbed. The other is a dehiscence (coming apart) of the muscle repair. 

I will assume given your description of your recovery that you are no longer taking narcotic pain medications, as they can interfere with intestinal motility and result in distention of the abdomen.

See your surgeon. Best wishes. 

Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 45 reviews

9 Weeks after Tummy Tuck And Enlarging Abdomen

     While a fluid collection is possible at 9 weeks, that would be extremely unusual as healing and scar should have resolved the dead space by now.  If the plication failed, you should have developed enough scar to prevent separation.  This is a difficult one to analyze from pictures alone, and an exam will be needed.  By the way, if you can tap your belly and see a fluid wave, this is a fluid collection.  Kenneth Hughes, MD Los Angeles, CA

Kenneth B. Hughes, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 492 reviews


You, most definitely need, a re-evaluation by your surgeon. It is very unusual to develop this type of swelling that late after surgery.

William J. Welsh, MD
Nebo Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 51 reviews

Swelling After Tummy Tuck

Dear Sharyne, Thank you for posting your question and photos. The cause of your post tummy tuck swelling is best diagnosed with a physical examination, abdominal sonogram and possibly needle aspiration. Seromas and hematomas can form following an abdominoplasty and require drainage. I recommend that you contact your Board Certified Plastic Surgeon soon and schedule a follow up visit.,

Dr. Richard Swift

Richard Wellington Swift, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 22 reviews

Swelling 9 weeks post-op from tummy tuck

The sudden onset of swelling in your tummy tuck area 9 weeks after surgery is very concerning for a post-operative fluid collection called a seroma.  I would schedule an appointment with your surgeon to have this evaluated and possibly drained.  Good luck.

Sacha Obaid, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 133 reviews

Bulging Belly post tt

You didn't tell me how rapidly the swelling came up.  However, to me it seems likely that this is a seroma.  I recommend you call your doctor and see him before the weekend.  It will need to be examined, and likely be aspirated.  If this is needed, it will be an inconvenience, not really bad otherwise.  Wear your binder in the mean time.


Scott E. Kasden, MD, FACS
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 101 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.