Did Tummy Tuck Fail? (photo)

im five weeks post op. from full tummy tuck. i had a five inch gap in my muscles. my stomach never looked flat after the surgery. its always had a bulge. is this my final result.

Doctor Answers 16

"Failed" tummy tuck can be due to a number of causes.

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At five weeks post-op, you should be on the downhill side of recovery, but far from complete. It does take a full 6-12 months to see your "final" result, and of course, it does depend on your continuing with good diet and exercise habits as you heal.

Your abdominal bulge at this point is partially due to swelling, but if your muscles were NOT plicated (repaired, tightened), OR if you have significant residual intra-abdominal fat, and IF there is still significant subcutaneous fat, OR any combination of these, then more surgery (and weight loss if most of your weight is still intra-abdominal) is needed to achieve the results you reasonably seek to achieve.

A frank discussion with your surgeon may yield information about what is going on, but if part or all of the reason for your present lack of better outcome is related to lack of a muscle repair, there may be some reticence or defensiveness on your surgeon's part. Perhaps consultation with another ABPS-certified plastic surgeon (and a copy of your surgeon's operative report) may help you get to the bottom of this.

You should know that not performing a muscle repair is not necessarily negligent or malpractice, as this is a judgement-call made by each surgeon at the time of tummy tuck, but I do a muscle repair in 99% of my tummy tuck patients, and I suspect the vast majority of my colleagues answering here do a muscle repair with nearly every one of their  tummy tuck cases as well. So while not performing muscle repair "saves" only about 10 minutes, the outcome reveals whether this was a good judgement or not! Best wishes! Dr. Tholen

Minneapolis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 263 reviews

Excess intraabdominal fat ruins a tummy tuck

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The preop photo appears to show a significant amount of excess intraabdominal fat.  This will put substantial outward pressure on the muscle repair and prevent you from ever having a flat abdomen.  I'd revisit this with your doctor and if that is the case, a proper weight loss program is needed because the fat inside the abdoment cannot be removed surgically.

Tummy Tuck Results Five Weeks Post-Op

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It is very difficult to judge the success or failure of your tummy tuck without having the opportunity to see your pre-op appearance.  If you are concerned that your stomach is not flat enough, I would ask your doctor what he/she found on the inside.  It may be that this is as flat as is physically possible given the fat that you have around your intestines or the strength of your tissue.  Good luck.

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Cannot tell if tummy tuck failed

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I cannot tell from your photos if your tummy tuck has "failed" without seeing the preop photos.  If your stomach never looked flat, then it was not likely an issue of the tightening that failed.  Actually feeling your belly and determining how thick your fat layer is also needed to fully determine why you are not happy with your tummy tuck.  It seems as though that you are still swollen, which is common at 5 weeks.  It also seems as though you have a fair amount of intraabdominal fat which cannot be fully corrected with a tummy tuck.  If you are unhappy and not getting the support of your current PS, see another board-certified plastic surgeon for another opinion.  Good luck!

Tito Vasquez, MD, FACS
Southport Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Did Tummy Tuck Fail?

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It is not easy or fair to assess the outcome using post-op photos only--pre-op photos would add a lot to the on line evaluators. 

There are a number of possibilities that could explain the persistent bulge that is present. 

  • Excess intra-abdominal tissue
  • Swelling
  • Fluid collection-blood or serum
  • Loose abdominal wall, either from not doing a repair, not tightening enough, or failure of the repair. 

From the photos, I don't see much going along with the 2nd or 3rd possibilities. Follow up exam with your surgeon should be able to determine what has happened, and what could be done to give you a better outcome.

Thanks for your question, best wishes. 


Jourdan Gottlieb, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon

Did Tummy Tuck Fail

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It appears as your muscle was not done or failed as seen in the posted photos. Please seek in person opinions from boarded PSS in your city. 

Source of abdominal fullness after tummy tuck

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Thank your for the question and photos.  There are a handful of potential sources for abdominal fullness after a tummy tuck including excess fat, loose abdominal wall, seroma, hematoma, pseudobursa, etc.  Since you report that your abdomen was never flat after surgery I suspect that your abdominal wall and or excess fat is the source of the fullness.  Since you are at 5 weeks I would give it more time for your body to heal before you re-assess the need for a revision.  An examination will needed at that time to determine if liposuction for excess fat or a tummy tuck revision for abdominal wall tightening will be needed.

All the best,

Dr Remus Repta

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

Tummy tuck failure?

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I would need preop photos to compare to make a decision.  You may have excess intra abdominal fat preventing a flat tummy.  Donald R. Nunn MD  Atlanta Plastic Surgeon.

Donald Nunn, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 51 reviews

Tummy tuck disappointment

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It is very hard to know if this is a good or bad result without details of the surgery and the Preop photos.  Wait three months and diet aggressively to see final outcome. If you are still concerned consult your board certified plastic surgeon who will usually stand behind the work and revise if necessary. Best 

James B. Lowe III, MD
Oklahoma City Plastic Surgeon

Flattening Effect From A Tummy Tuck Affected By Skin Flap And Intraperitoneal Fat Volumes

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As a general statement, tummy tucks do not fail. It is more of a question of how much improvement is obtained particularly in regards to the degree of flattening. It is not possible to look at your result now and pass judgment on the result without seeing what you looked like before surgery. Some patients are never going to get a flat stomach from a tummy tuck regardless of how much the muscles are tightened because of their initial amount of intraperitoneal fat and the thickness of the upper abdominal skin flap. 

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.