Failed Abdominoplasty/Hernia Repair, What Should I Do?

I had an abdominoplasty/double hernia repair in Oct 2010. About 4 months after the procedure I noticed extreme stomach distention to the point of looking 6 months pregnant at all times. I went back to the original plastic surgeon (and several other Dr's) who all agreed I have a problem, but no one can tell me what that problem is. Is it possible the vertical repair was never even made or that the hernia repair has since failed? This distention is devestating after all I have been through.

Doctor Answers 6

Failed Abdominoplasty/ Hernia Repair

Usually, physical examination suffices to determine weather abdominal wall laxity (separation of the abdominal muscles) is the culprit versus a true hernia.  A CT scan may be helpful although not generally necessary.  Either way, unfortunately, it sounds like a repeat plication of the abdominal muscle separation (putting it back together again) and/or repeat hernia repair is necessary.

San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,488 reviews

Failed Abdominoplasty/Hernia Repair, What Should I Do?

You do not mention whether your distention is just in the upper tummy or throughout.  Sometimes a fascial tightening/ventral hernia repair can fail and the stitches can pull through, and abdominal distention can recur.  And this can happen throughout the tummy or just in one area like the upper tummy.  Weight gain can also cause excessive fullness in the tummy, both from subcutaneous fat and from fat inside around the bowels.  Photos would help, but ultimately a plastic surgeon should be able to diagnose your problem by getting a CT of the abdomen and see what is going on with your fascia.

Robert M. Grenley, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 87 reviews

Hernia repair and abdominoplasty

A CT scan is the next step. That will determine whether it is a recurrent hernia or something else. There are also multiple causes of increased intraabdominal pressure which could be contributing to your problem. A full work up is necessary.

Richard Dale Reynolds, MD
El Paso Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 37 reviews

Failed hernia repair with tummy tuck

Your comment that the several doctors agree you have a problem though none know what the problem is, is problematic. If you do indeed have a hernia, a CT scan can rapidly sort out the issue as the hernia will show up in the study. A general surgeon may be of help in your area, if your plastic surgeon has not been helpful.

Best of luck,


Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

Failed Abdominoplasty?

We really need much more information to give  you useful information.  You should post before and after pictures.   What is the timeline of your concerns.  Did your abdomen look okay after surgery and then all of a sudden you were having problems?  Are you having any other medical issues?   Is your stomach larger than before surgery? Have the other consultations ordered any imaging studies such as CT scan.  Without the information and seeing you in person it is very difficult to give you specific advice or guidance.  However, you seem to be doing the right thing and seeking second opinions.  For a correction, you are likely going to need more surgery, but none of that can be determined without seeing you in person.


Good Luck.

David Shafer, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 75 reviews

Complex abdominal wall problem

You have not given us enough information to help you here.  What is your weight before surgery and what has it been doing.  Going up?  Do you smoke or have a chronic cough?  These both can destroy a hernia repair.  I'd suggest you visit the plastic surgery department at Univ of Michigan after calling them and asking who their abdominal wall/hernia expert is.  Good luck!

Richard P. Rand, MD, FACS
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 67 reviews

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