Upper abdominal bulge after Tummy Tuck, can it be fixed? (Photos)

I had a TT and look contour 9 months ago, since I have had a Seroma drained and dog ear correction, however my upper abdomen buldges over my belly button when tensed. It gets swollen and puffy after exercise, now I know there is a degree of fat there but it doesn't seem right. The pictures show me tensing the abs and you can see how much this is distended. Is this where the sutures are looser at the top than the bottom? Can it be fixed easily??

Doctor Answers 17

Upper abdominal bulge after tummy tuck

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

This can occur for several reasons including residual fat (many surgeons do not do concomitant liposuction which can be a mistake if the upper abdomen has a lot of subcutaneous tissue); an untreated rectus diastasis or a failed rectus plication.  Finally, if a seroma does form, it can become chronic and "organized" or scarred, forming an unsightly bulge.  This is more common in the lower abdomen or areas of dependence.  Go back and see your surgeon.

Charlotte Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

Upper abdomen fullness following abdominoplasty

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Thanks for your question and photos. There are no clear cut explanations for what we see in the photos. There are many possible explanations. My suggestion is to have a conversation with your plastic surgeon about this. Explain your displeasure, allow them to suggest a way to improve the situation. Please be prepared to request copies of your medical records for yourself. If the discussion is not to your satisfaction, consider a second opinion. In instances such as this, I always ask the patient to obtain copies of the operative summary. Having them can save lots of time. Best of luck and I hope that you get a satisfactory resolution of your issue.

Peter D. Geldner, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 34 reviews


{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

You may have a weakness in the upper abdomen that may need further tightening. You would have to be seen in person to be evaluated properly.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Tummy Tuck residual bulge

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}


It is unfortunate that you had a seroma. An upper abdominal bulge can occur due to a separation of the original fascia tightening or may be related to the abdominal contents being compressed with the upper abdomen being the area of least resistance. Perhaps in your situation both may be occurring. In these case I recommend using a mesh graft to help reinforce the upper abdomen support. 


Dr. K

Michael Kulick, MD, DDS
San Francisco Plastic Surgeon
4.3 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

Upper abdominal bulge after abdominoplasty

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

 Your first step should be to touch base with your plastic surgeon and have a thorough exam. It is possible that the area of your upper abdomen either was not plicated or ruptured the plication postoperatively. Serama, hematoma or fat bulging may be other causes of this as well. good luck.

Stefan Rene Adair, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

Upper abdominal bulge after Tummy Tuck, can it be fixed?

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Thank you for your question and sharing your photos. Unfortunately, you will have to be examined  in person to know exactly what the problem is. It is difficult to tell with just a couple pictures. I would recommend voicing your concern to your PS and possible having a second opinion on this. Best of luck!

Dhaval M. Patel 

Double Board Certified 

Plastic Surgeon 

Hoffman Estates 




Dhaval M. Patel, MD
Hoffman Estates Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 100 reviews

Upper Abdominal Buldge After Tummy Tuck......?

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Sorry to hear that you are having this problem.  There are several possible causes of this problem.   First and most likely cause is that either your surgeon didn't plicate your abdominal muscles above your belly button, or the stitches either broke or pulled through your tissues.  There are other possibilities such as fluid or fat, but if it is only showing up when you flex, it is most likely a muscle issue.   Yes, all of these issues can be fixed, but will likely require surgery.   Good luck!

Daniel P. Markmann, MD
Baltimore Plastic Surgeon

Upper abdomen bulge

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

You would need to be examined in person, with a copy of the operative note, to understand whether or not this is a seroma, muscle laxity, residual fat, etc.  The solution to the bulge depends upon this exam, but there should be some way to address it.  Discuss this further with your surgeon.
Best of luck!

Dr. Subbio
Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon
Newtown Square/Philadelphia, PA

Christian Subbio, MD
Philadelphia Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 74 reviews

Upper abdominal bulge after Tummy Tuck, can it be fixed?

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

I'm afraid we would need access to your operative note and an exam before we would have an idea as to the cause of the bulge, but whatever it is it can probably be corrected. 

Ronald V. DeMars, MD
Portland Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

Upper abdominal bulge after Tummy Tuck, can it be fixed?

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Without an examination it is difficult to tell the cause.  At 9 months post surgery it could be muscle laxity,  excess fat or a chronic seroma.  The commonest being the muscle laxity.  It may be able to be corrected with further surgery.  Best wishes

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.