How Long Does It Take for All of the Swelling and Muscles to Look Completely Relaxed and Normal After a Tummy Tuck?

I had a tummy tuck 3 months ago. There is one spot, ( about two inches long), in my upper AB that appears swollen still. It seems like it gets that way after I exercise. Will it get completely flat in time? Will it stay that way? Will I have to have surgery again to fix the one spot? Thank you!

Doctor Answers 7

Swelling after Tummy Tuck?

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Thank you for the question.
As always, it is best to be seen in person ( by your plastic surgeon) for precise diagnosis and treatment.
Generally speaking, 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.

Tummy bulge after tummy tuck (abdominoplasty)

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The upper bulge is worrisome because it may indicate incomplete tightening of the muscles.  Ask you surgeon how high up the abdominal wall the muscles were plicated (folded and tightened).  If the tightening was confined to the lower abdomen then the upper bulge is not likely to go away without more surgery.

Lump after tummy tuck

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This is a tough question to answer with information provided.  At 3 months, you should be  pretty well on your way to a final result.  On the other hand, if the "lump" only appears after exercise, it may be that you are having muscle spasm.  If it completely flat without exercise, this may be diagnostic.

It would be a good idea to have your ps look at it, and maybe exercise to provoke the "lump".  This I think would give a good idea of the problem and what might be next.


Early swelling after an abdominoplasty

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Each person heals differently and at different rates.   I would not be too concerned about this condition at this early stage in your recovery.  Point it out to your plastic surgeon at your next follow up appointment. He is in the best position to determine if this is a concern.   I would imagine that it will settle down over the next 3 months.  

How Long Does It Take for All of the Swelling and Muscles to Look Completely Relaxed and Normal After a Tummy Tuck

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The main problem with swelling after the tummy tuck is usually with the soft tissues and not the muscle.  This may take several months for the swelling to settle down as new drainage pathways are established.

Thomas Guillot, MD
Baton Rouge Plastic Surgeon

Cosmetic Plastic Surgery is an Art and a Science

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Thank you for your question. Everyone heals at a different rate especially if your muscles are repaired. Your surgeon can better answer this than I. It may take a few months for this to clear..Dr Thomas Narsete   Austin, Tx

Swelling 3 Months after Tummy Tuck

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   From your description with the ebb and flow associated with exercise, this is likely swelling that should decrease with time as the lymphovascular anastomoses are reestablished.  Kenneth Hughes, MD Los Angeles, CA

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.