Why do I have a pot belly 10 weeks after abdominalplasty? (Photos)

What could this be? Why do I have a bulging belly with numbness 6 weeks after abdominalplasty??? What does this look like to you?? My physical therapist seems to think it moves from one side to the other when she presses on my belly. My plastic surgeon doesn't seem to believe it's a seroma. What is going on??

Doctor Answers 6

Post Op Swelling

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Thank you for your question and photos. Unfortunately the pictures are not displaying correctly for me. I can tell you that at 6 weeks, general edema or swelling in the abdominal area is normal and may persist for a few months still. The best plan is to visit with your Plastic Surgeon in person and if they have examined you and find that you have normal swelling, continue to follow post op instructions and re-evaluate closer to 6 months.

All the best

Pot Belly After Tummy Tuck

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Before photos would help immensely as well as an in-person exam. An alternative to you having a seroma is simply that you have significant intraabdominal/visceral fat. This is the fat that surrounds your organs which cannot be treated with liposuction or a tummy tuck. Decreasing this type of fat takes a change in diet, not plastic surgery. Having this extra fat pushes your abdominal wall outward, making you look like you have a pot belly, even when plication/internal corset is performed along with your tummy tuck. A tummy tuck treats extra skin, not inner fat. You may be noticing your potbelly even more now that your extra skin has been removed and tightened. Continue close follow-up and communication with your plastic surgeon. 

Tummy Tuck Post OP

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Thank you for your question and pictures. While most people see results at 6 to 8 weeks, swelling from a tummy tuck can remain for a year. Without an exam it's difficult to say if you have excess fat, a fluid collection or swelling. It's best to discuss your concerns with your plastic surgeon. What does your plastic surgeon think is going on. In my experience, I would give it some more time to see what your final results will be.

Tummy Tuck - Post Op Swelling?

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Thank you for your question. You should expect to have swelling for three to six months following tummy tuck surgery. Use of a properly fitted compression garment will help decrease the length and severity of the post-operative swelling. As the swelling decreases, the contour of your abdomen, flanks, and hips will dramatically improve. Please follow your plastic surgeons specific advice regarding your level of physical activity. Hope this helps and good luck with your recovery.

Swelling Period after Tummy Tuck

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Swelling can persist for several months and will gradually improve and will look better at three months, six months, and even one year. Frequently the pubic area and the scrotal and penis area for men can become very swollen and discolored during the first two weeks due to gravity as this is the lowest area for swelling to accumulate.

It may take several months for a tummy tuck patient’s scars to soften, for sensation to return, and for relaxing of the tight sensation in the abdomen. In the case of extensive surgery, abdominoplasty recovery can be uncomfortable and may take longer. Scars may stay red, become thick or widen. It can take 12-18 months for the scars to settle.

If you do find that you are extremely concerned about your swelling after surgery you should never hesitate to visit your surgeon for a follow-up exam to make sure that healing is progressing well. The amount of time it can take for the swelling to completely settle and sensation to return fully can last a while but the cost of your procedure should include all follow-up appointments to help ensure that the healing process is moving along well. Good luck!

Jed H. Horowitz, MD, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 116 reviews

Abdominal issue

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It would be helpful to see preop photos and as well examine you in person.  You may have swelling, you may have fluid, hard to say.  Best to see your surgeon.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 30 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.