Swelling or Damaged Muscle Repair? (photo)

Picture on the left is not even a week ago, picture on the right is today. I am on my feet for work for 8hrs and just went back a few days ago. I'm scared I did something or is this normal for 5 weeks post-op? I have emailed my surgeon these pics, but want a few opinions. Thanks!

Doctor Answers 7

Standing will have no effect on the outcome from an abdominoplasty.

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There is nothing that you have done which is jeopardized the result of your abdominoplasty. There still is a sizable amount of swelling and you should wait for this to resolve before becoming concerned.

Swelling or Damaged Muscle Repair?

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Dear Chrmik,

Thank you for your photos.  This can be a notable change from a week ago, but can also be that your muscles were spasmed a week ago and tight and not relaxed.  If you can recreate the first photo by 'sucking it in' then you may just have a habit of relaxing your belly muscles.  This can also be a rupture in the abdominal sutures, swelling, or free fluid (seroma).  You doctor should assess all of this. 

Best Wishes,

Pablo PRichard, MD

Pablo Prichard, MD
Phoenix Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

Round Tummy after Tummy Tuck

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Thanks for the  pictures.  A before picture would help.  You are 5 weeks out from surgery and would hope that your abdomen would have better contour than this BUT this may be wonderful based on what your appearance was prior to surgery.  Discuss any and all issues with your PS.

Dr. ES

Swelling or Damaged Muscle Repair

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Watching your photos and with your history of standing most of the day is hard to tell if it is swelling or if there have been a weakness in your muscle repair so what you should do is to visit your plastic surgeon to check swelling is the reason of your change in your abdomen. Best Wishes

Australia Fragoso-Baez, MD
Dominican Republic Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 432 reviews

Abdominoplasty swelling post op

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All tummy tucks swell for 6-8 months following surgery. During the day, you may notice more swelling as you are standing all day. You can wear a compression garment for comfort but this swelling has to resolve over time. This is entirely normal.

Swelling after Tummy Tuck?

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Thank you for the question and pictures.
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.
I hope this helps.

Swelling or Damaged Muscle Repair?

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I don't think anyone can be certain based on photos alone. A visit to your surgeon will offer the best in reassurance. 

These photos are taken with such different magnification that they are hard to compare with each other. I am not sure I see much difference between the two. A pre-op picture would also have been helpful. 

All the best. 

Jourdan Gottlieb, MD
Seattle 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.