Upper abdominal swelling after full muscle repair, umbilical hernia repair, mini TT. Breast implant swap to larger (Photo)

Exactly 3 weeks ago, I had a mini tummy tuck. My umbilical hernia was repaired at the same time and I had full muscle repair. I am very thin normally. Now I look AWFUL. I was told 1 day post op and also 1 week post op that the swelling in my upper abdomen is "just localized swelling." It seems to be more than that. Also, there is slight pain in that area. Based upon my description and the attached photos, I am looking for other opinions as to what is wrong here.

Doctor Answers 10

Tummy Tuck Concern While Healing From a Mommy Makeover

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Healing after a  #tummytuck will require time. Some patients are out of bed and walking the night of surgery and every hour while awake. I allow my patients to return to work at one to two weeks with 14 days preferred.  However, no lifting or straining.  At three weeks, increased level of activity and full with no restrictions, at 6 weeks. #MummyTummy is a term given to modified tummy tucks which can use liposuction and skin tightening with radiofrequency such Vanquish, Vela3, thermage, thermiRF and others.  The actual fat contouring can be done non-surgically as well with #UltraShape or Cool-Sculpting.
As I advise my patients, if your work keeps you sedentary, you may return whenever you feel up to it. If your work is strenuous, wait until your work activity does not cause any superficial pain.
Some employers will modify a person’s job duties so they can back sooner, but without physical activity. Our office can provide our patients with a note stating they are not to engage in strenuous activity for a specified period of time. The note will not disclose what procedure they have underwent. Therefore, you may have to request a similar note from your surgeon if you are not independently employed. I recommend avoiding heavy lifting and strenuous #activity for six weeks following your surgery. With that said, it may help you plan your return to work accordingly.

As for heavy lifting and other #strenuous #activities, it should be avoided for until you have clearance from your surgeon. You may, however, do normal activities at any time if they cause no pain or #discomfort. Let your body tell you what you can or cannot do. Aerobic exercise will raise your blood pressure, which could cause late bleeding and harm your result. Once you begin exercising again, start gently and let your body tell you what it can tolerate. Don’t rush!!  If you have concerns about your healing, or pain that you question to be unusual, it is important to call your plastic surgeon to discuss these further asked to be examined.

Swelling after surgery

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It appears as though you might have a fluid collection.  Visit with your plastic surgeon soon to see if it needs to be treated.

Upper abdominal swelling after full muscle repair, umbilical hernia repair, mini TT. Breast implant swap to larger (Photo)

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Thank you for your questions and photographs.  I do see the swelling that you are concerned about, and I would see your surgeons so that they can perform an exam and determine its source.  Because of the many parts of your surgery, it could be a collection of fluid (seroma), blood (hematoma), from the work on your muscle and hernia repair, or less likely, a recurrent hernia.  

Unusual swelling after mini-tummy tuck

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Thank you for asking about your mini-tummy tuck.

I agree that the result looks unusual. My thoughts -
  • The photos strongly suggest that you have a seroma.
  • Ask your plastic surgeon to do an ultrasound to see if this is correct.
  • If so, it needs to be taken off with a needle 2-3 x a week until it stops forming.
Always see a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon
Hope you found this answer helpful. Best wishes.

Upper abdominal swelling post muscle repair, umbilical hernia repair and mini TT?

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This area around the upper abdomen may be due to normal post operative swelling.  However, this could also be a fluid collection (seroma).  Ask your surgeon if they think that there is a seroma present.  If there is, your doctor may consider aspirating the fluid.  Best wishes, Dr. Lepore.

Correction of poor results from mini abdominoplasty might require conversion to full abdominoplasty.

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In my opinion a mini abdominoplasty has very few indications. In your particular case I think a full abdominoplasty will be necessary to get an idealized result. Nevertheless, you have significant swelling after the procedure which has to resolve before pronouncing judgment.

Post Mini Swelling

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Swelling is a normal part of any surgical procedure but localized swelling may be a concern. I would have another assessment by your Plastic Surgeon to rule out things like seroma, hematoma, etc.

Best of Luck!

Ryan Mitchell, MD, FRCSC
Grand Rapids Plastic Surgeon

Upper abdominal swelling after full muscle repair.

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We just can't know, however it doesn't look like local swelling, and might be a fluid collection or seroma. Give good support to the area and let your surgeon have another look.

Upper abdominal swelling after full muscle repair, umbilical hernia repair, mini TT. Breast implant swap to larger

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This may be more than localized swelling. Contact your plastic surgeon for an in person evaluation to see what is going on.


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You are still in the early recovery process and swelling can be normal at this stage.  However it would be best to return to your PS for an evaluation.  It may be that a seroma is forming which may need to be aspirated or scar tissue that can be helped by aggressive massaging.  Good luck.

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.