One side of my tummy tuck is more swollen. Is it because they left more fat?

I had a lipo suction and tummy tuck 3 weeks ago and one side looks bigger , is it because they left more fat or ? Thank you

Doctor Answers 8

Tummy tuck appearance after 3 weeks.

This early from surgery it may only be a slight difference in swelling.  Other causes are best evaluated in-person.  Depending on the thickness of your abdominal wall prior to surgery, it is possible that one side is in fact bigger and due only to the anatomy.  Your surgeon can give a better assessment by examining you.  

Palm Beach Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 45 reviews

Swelling after TT

Hello dear, thanks for your post and provided picture as well. Is really hard to tell without photo.
As always, it is best to be seen in person ( by your plastic surgeon) for precise diagnosis and treatment.
Abdominal wall "swelling" after tummy tuck may be related to:

1. Swelling in the soft tissues. This may take several months to resolve and may worsen with increased activity or at the end of the day. Patience is required to allow for resolution of the swelling. The swelling occurs because of the interruption of venous and lymphatic channels that occurs during the tummy tuck operation.

2. Fluid accumulation in the space between the skin and the abdominal wall muscle. this may consist of blood ( hematoma) or serum (seroma). This fluid accumulation can generally be diagnosed by physical examination ( occasionally ultrasound may be helpful). Treatment consists of aspiration; several episodes of aspiration may be necessary.

3. Separation of the abdominal wall muscle repair may lead to a swelling/bulge appearance. This may be diagnosed on physical examination with your surgeon examining you in different bodily positions. One of the steps of a tummy tuck procedure involves reapproximation (plication) of the rectus muscles. These muscles have spread apart during pregnancy and/or weight gain. Bringing them together again in the midline helps to “tighten” the abdominal wall as well as to narrow the waistline.

4. Residual adipose tissue may be confused for swelling. Again this is most easily diagnosed by physical examination. Additional liposuction surgery maybe necessary to improve the results of surgery.
Generally, it takes many months for swelling to resolve after tummy tuck surgery and it may take up to one year (or greater) a complete skin redraping to occur.

Good luck :)

Tania Medina de Garcia, MD
Dominican Republic Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 418 reviews

One side of my tummy tuck is more swollen. Is it because they left more fat?

Thank you for your question and I am sorry that your results have not been what you anticipated. It is difficult without an in-person examination to determine what may be taking place. Most commonly this is residual swelling from surgery which will spontaneously resolve but it would be important to voice your concerns to your surgeon to ensure that other issues are not taking place - discrete fluid collection, muscle laxity, or residual adipose tissue.

Nelson Castillo, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 68 reviews

One side of my tummy tuck is more swollen. Is it because they left more fat?

At just three weeks post op, it is difficult to say what is causing one side of the tummy tuck to look larger.  At this point you are probably still swollen and may have more fluid (seroma) on one side than the other.  Let your surgeon know about your concerns.  If the asymmetry is due to fluid or swelling, it may well resolve over the next several weeks.  If there is a significant amount of fluid accumulation your surgeon may want to aspirate it with a needle.  Best wishes, Dr. Lepore.

Vincent D. Lepore, MD
San Jose Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 56 reviews

3 week post op swelling can impair evaluation of long-term outcome

Abdominal liposuction results in significant surgical trauma of the fat lying under the skin.  As a result tissue fluid collection, tissue swelling, and fibrosis can lead to varying degrees of temporary surface irregularities that often resolves spontaneously in the 6-8 weeks following a procedure.  3 weeks is too early to assess long-term outcome.  Be patient and maintain follow-up visits with your plastic surgeon.

Chen Lee, MD
Montreal Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Early post operative asymmetry

There are several possible explanations for the asymmetry.  First, your swelling may be uneven due to post operative activity or even positioning (that is, the tendency to lean towards or lay on one side more than the other).  Second, you may have developed a post operative seroma or fluid collection, accounting for the larger side.  Third, it is possible that fat removal was uneven.  I would suggest that you follow up with your operative surgeon for a careful examination and to discuss your concerns.  Best wishes for an easy recovery.

George Bitar, MD
Fairfax Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 55 reviews

One side of my tummy tuck is more swollen. Is it because they left more fat?

At only 3 weeks, it's hard to comment on your results. It's normal to be swollen after lipo/TT so best to allow all of the swelling to resolve before you evaluate your results. And, both sides do not necessarily heal at the same rate! Continue wearing your garment and following up with your PS. Good luck!

Farah Naz Khan, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 100 reviews

Asymmetric healing

Asymmetric healing is very common with all surgery. It could be that you use that side more. Is it the same side as your "handedness" -- i.e. right side if you are right handed? Nothing to worry about unless it doesn't improve with time. Then, see your surgeon.
My best,
Dr. Sheila Nazarian
@drsheilanazarian on Instagram

Sheila S. Nazarian, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 56 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.