How Common and Why Do Some People Get an Unsightly Bulge in Upper Abs After a Tummy Tuck & Does That Happen with Body Lift Too?

I bumped into a disturbing thread about people who have had a tummy tuck and a few years after that, a bulge in their upper abs starts to appear and makes them a. look worse then before the TT and b. wish they wouldn't have done it. Some say they haven't gained any weight, it's just there. Some have gained weight and that maybe the fat appears there because the other was lipo'd. Others say it was poor surgeon work. 1. Any thoughts on this? 2. Would this apply to a lower body lift as well?

Doctor Answers 3

Upper abdomen bulge after tummy tuck

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Patients who gain weight may bulge in the upper abdomen and those who opted for mini-abdominoplasty, a procedure which many of us discuss frequently on Real Self may have this problem because they did not have a full tummy tuck.  If the abdominal musculature is properly and fully plicated during the operation, this problem should not develop. 

Unsightly Bulge in Upper Abs After a Tummy Tuck

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Dear hope4change,

This is a very rare occurrence after a Tummy Tuck and can be due to three factors.

1) Weight gain-probably the most common reason.

2) Failure to repair the seperation of the abdominal muscles(rectus diastasis) of the upper abdomen at the time of the tummy tuck or a failure of the repair to hold after being repaired.  This is an uncommon cause if the muscles were repaired but not uncommon if they were not repaired especially in patients that had the muscle seperation repaired only in the lower abdomen as can occur with a mini-tummy tuck.

3) The skin of the upper abdomen was not sutured down to the underlying muscles of the upper abdomen and develop a bulge or laxity.  

Again, this not a common problem in most tummy tuck patients and those who are having problems or concerns should see their plastic surgeon who after an examination may be able to offer a suggestion for treatment so they can get back to enjoying their tight tummy. 

Herluf G. Lund, Jr, MD
Saint Louis Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 88 reviews

Upper abdominal bulge after tummy tuck

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An upper abdominal bulge after tummy tuck might be related to incomplete plication and repair of the abdominal muscle all the up to the chest. The fat in this area is typically thinner and less often a problem. We have not seen the 'thread' about a bulge occuring later after a few years, and a picture or referrence would be interesting to see.

Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 44 reviews

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