Edema Following Tummy Tuck

I had a Full TT Oct 2010. Healing went great, had no problems at all. Mid Nov I began to notice I was holding fluid all over my body..maybe edema? My PS gave me water pills to take once per day. No results. When I asked for more she refused, and said that the surgery had nothing to do with the water retension,and to cut back on my salt intake.

I have been, and still holding maybe 20-25 lbs of water. I'm puffy, bloated and my hands hurt. Did surgery effect my lymph glands?? What to do now?

Doctor Answers 5

Water retention after tummy tuck

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You must look seriously for a medical cause for 20 to 25 pounds of water retention.  It does not occur as a result of a tummy tuck but can be related to kidney, liver, or thyroid problems etc.

An internal medicine doctor would the the right person to see.

Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 195 reviews

20-25 pounds of water retention is not from your tummy tuck.

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There is no reason why a tummy tuck will cause you to have widespread body edema (anasarca). Localized swelling in the abdominal flap or in the pubic area is common, but persistent swelling in your hands and feet indicates an issue with your salt balance, kidney status, or heart function. I recommend a thorough history and physical examination with your internist to evaluate for more common causes of body edema. Best of luck.

David Bogue, MD
Boca Raton Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

20-25 lbs water retention 7 months following tummy tuck has other medical cause.

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Your tummy tuck was in October, 2010, and by your own admission, "went great." Although generalized edema after any kind of surgical procedure can be seen (it's called "third-spacing"), 20-25 lbs is an extreme amount, and it is now 7 months post-op. Surgery-related causes should now be resolved, and the fluid gone from this cause. Any lymphatic injury related to your tummy tuck would affect swelling only near your incision and in your abdominal tissues, not your entire body. And, they would be nearly completely healed and back to a new normal by 7 months post-op.

Cosmetic surgery may simply have been the "red herring" that was coincidental with development of your fluid retention, and your PS was wise to not prescribe any more "water pills." I would not have prescribed any, as edema related to surgery ALWAYS goes away on its own in a healthy individual.

This is why all of us are stressing the importance of a general medical evaluation to look into the causes of this degree of fluid retention--there are any number of causes, and some of them are serious. See a board-certified Internal Medicine consultant now! Good luck!

Richard H. Tholen, MD, FACS
Minneapolis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 263 reviews

Edema after tummy tuck

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Tummy tuck did not affect your lymph glands or cause water retention. Limiting salt intake is certainly good advice. However, you should pay a visit to your primary care physician for a complete exam. Swelling in the abdomen for several weeks is common, and even some swelling in the feet and ankles with fluids from surgery and inactivity for several days. Bloating or whole body water retention is not the norm after tummy tuck.

Best of luck,


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

Fluid retention after tummy tuck

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Mild to moderate swelling of the abdominal area is usual for about 6 to 8 months. You need to see your family doctor to find out why you are retaining fluid. A tummy tuck this far out should not cause fluid retention.

Victor Au, MD (retired)
Chapel Hill Plastic Surgeon

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.