How Many Days After a Tummy Tuck Can a Person Start on Lymphatic Massages?

I will be having my TT on 10/24th and am very interested in lymphatic drainage. It seems to me like this is more popular amongst international PS's. Just curious as to why surgeons in the US don't mention it as much and if it really helps the healing process.

Doctor Answers 9

Lymphatic Massage and Tummy Tucks

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Dear NewMe1024,

It is not that plastic surgeons in the United States have anything against lymphatic massage, it is just the application that you are considering using it for requires some time between the surgery and the onset of the massage therapy.  For procedures such as liposuction, massage starting as soon as the patient can tolerate will help decrease the swelling and edema faster and allow for a faster recovery.  However with an abdominoplasty, the skin and fatty tissues of the abdomen are lifted up and undermined and then advanced.  The plastic surgeon then sutures the abdominal flap back down to the abdomen where it has to "reattach" itself back to the muscles and this takes time.  Anything that causes the skin and the muscle layers to shear against each other can cause pockets to form in between these layers and that can lead to a difficult problem to treat, seromas.  By allowing enough time for the tissues to re-adhere and then starting massage at around six weeks or so, the risk of developing a seroma is significantly decreased.  You can start lymphatic massage earlier at other areas such as the flanks or the legs if you had liposuction at the same time as your tummy tuck.  Good Luck with your surgery.

Saint Louis Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 88 reviews

How Many Days After a Tummy Tuck Can a Person Start on Lymphatic Massages? Answer:

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If you are talking massage to other areas than your tummy, then as soon as you feel like it. But…remember, the skin on your abdomen was lifted up (undermined) and then pulled tight. It needs time to “stick” back down to the tissue underneath and any stretch, pulling or pushing on that skin can only delay that process and possible lead to seroma. So I would wait until that skin has been given time to adhere, probably close to 6 weeks.

John J. Corey, MD
Phoenix Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 48 reviews

Abdominoplasty and lymphatic drainage

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there is no single good answer.  

i have had some problems with endemologie massage done less than 6 weeks .  it seemed to increase seroma.  but my experience is limited.   i think it works well after liposuction.  

i would probably wait 3 weeks minimim and 6 weeks preferred to allow for early healing. and use lymphatic massage benefit for the later healing.

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

Lymphatic drainage after tummy tuck

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The answer is loss of control of patient.  This is not an ego thing.

This is a huge, complex operation with real complications.  Send the patient out to get who knows what done, and who know's what will happen.  If a complication results from an overly vigorous massage, who is at fault, and who deals with it?

If this is important to you, find a ps who works with someone who does this, and someone whom he trusts.  In any event, don't do anything without your doctor's consent.

How Many Days After a Tummy Tuck Can a Person Start on Lymphatic Massages?

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I don't know who you are seeing but I have been using lymphatic massages for years. In a tummy tuck I recommend them after at least a week post operative. 

Deep Tissue Massage Does not Improve Outcome or Experience after Tummy Tuck

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Hi there-

While it would be impossible to generalize across all practioners of my specialty, I can tell you that the reason I do not recommend this treatment after tummy tucks in my practice is quite simple...

They do nothing to improve my patient's tummy tuck recovery or outcome, and they are quite painful.

This is in contradistinction to other procedures (liposuction, Brazilian Butt Lift), where I do believe the massage is helpful and shortens recovery time. 

In other words, I do not agree with the idea that these massages help the healing process after tummy tuck.


Lymphatic Massage after Tummy Tuck

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Thank you for the question.

I would have no problem with gentle prophetic massage provided by expert  providers starting around 2 weeks after surgery. It would behoove you to check with your plastic surgeon before proceeding.

Best wishes.

It depends on what the lymphatic massage entails

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One of the most important components of recovery following a tummy tuck is wearing your abdominal binder.  Taking it off for long periods of time for any type of lymphatic massage within the first week is not wise.  Gentle lymphatic massage for brief periods can be performed by you, while showering for example.  More aggresive lymphatic massage especially endermologie should be deffered until 4-6 weeks after your surgery.

All the best,

Dr Repta

Remus Repta, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 173 reviews

Lymphatic drainage after tummy tuck

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Major lymphatic drainage channels from lower abdominal skin to inguinal lymph nodes are completely disrupted during abdominoplasty.  This contributes to significant lower abdominal edema (swelling) after abdominoplasty.    Whether or not complex decongestive physiotherapy (lymphatic massage) accelerates resolution of this swelling and/or speeds up restoration of normal lymphatic drainage is unknown.  There is no scientific proof (prospective randomized double blinded controlled trial) of the benefits of lymphatic drainage in this setting.  However, there is no proof that lymphatic drainage does NOT help either, so as long as your surgeon agrees, no harm in trying.

Steve Laverson, MD
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 50 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.