If I Have to Retighten the Upper Abdominal Muscles Because It Was Not Done Tight Enough, Would It Be a Complete Tummy Tuck?

I have an area in my belly (upper) that still appears swollen on some days. I had a tummy tuck 3 months ago. Can the outcome still change at this point? I hate to repeat the surgery.

Doctor Answers 14

Post Tummy Tuck - Upper Abdominal Swelling. What Does it Mean?

Congratulations.  Since it appears your only concern is intermittent upper abdominal swelling 3 months after a tummy tuck, then the reasonable assumption would be that the scar and your belly button look just fine.

Upper abdominal fullness of an intermittent nature this early after an abdominoplasty usually is due to swelling of the upper abdominal muscles, secondary to suturing for correction of a rectus diastasis (separated abdominal muscles).  This type of swelling can continue off and on for at least another 3-6 months.  It is completely normal and nothing to be concerned about. 

An in-person physical exam by your plastic surgeon would help you answer the question. 

How To Treat Upper Abdominal Fullness

Firstly, since the fullness of your upper abdomen is not always present it sounds more likely that it is due to swelling that may occur due to level of activities, type of clothing you're wearing  or even changes in the weather.  If this is the case, time will resolve your issues.  If the fullness is due to residual fat in the area, simply liposuctioning the upper abdomen will flatten it.  Finally, if your PS determines that the upper abdomen was not tightened adequately, particularly in relation to the lower abdomen, you will have to re-tighten or plicate the  muscles and this is usually done by re-elevating the abdominal wall. 

Eric Sadeh, MD
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 57 reviews

Upper Abdominal Swelling

Swelling of the abdomen months after tummy tuck surgery is normal.  It resolves with time.  Your fullness may resolve with time.  Muscle re-tightening is rarely necessary but requires a full tummy tuck.  The fullness may also be due to a seroma that can be drained or residual fat that can be suctioned. Discuss this matter further with your surgeon. All the best.

Robert F. Centeno, MD, FACS
Columbus Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 77 reviews

Problems after an abdominoplasty

If your abdomen was flat in the early recovery period and now you have a bulge then this it may or may not be related to laxity of the upper abdominal fascia.  If you attempt to do a crunch does the area stay the same or does it bulge.  If it remains the same it is possible that this is just redundant fat or a collection of fluid under the skin.  Your plastic surgeon is in the best position to determine the problem.  If it is the fascia that is loose then there is no easy way to get to it.  You would need to re-elevate the entire flap to access this area.   

Jeffrey Zwiren, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

Retighten Upper Abdominal Wall Muscles after Tummy Tuck Surgery?

I'm sorry to hear about the concerns you have after tummy tuck surgery. At this point, it may be too early to evaluate the need for additional surgery. However, if it does turn out that your  upper abdominal wall remains lax, then additional muscle plication may be necessary to achieve the results you are looking for. The diagnosis of residual abdominal wall laxity can only be made during direct examination.

 This operation would involve relifting of the abdominal wall “flap” and additional sutures placed between the relatively lax rectus muscles of the upper abdominal wall. Additional skin excision will likely not be necessary.

 Nevertheless,  this operation would be considered relatively major with significant recovery time expected.

 I hope this helps.

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,499 reviews

If I Have to Retighten the Upper Abdominal Muscles Because It Was Not Done Tight Enough, Would It Be a Complete Tummy Tuck?

If indeed the upper tightening need to be redone, the entire TT incision must be reopened, and the skin elevated to approach the area in question. Yes, that is like redoing the TT. 

But if this is apparent only on some days, I would suspect something other than laxity of the upper abdominal repair. Has your surgeon excluded the possibility of seroma? Has there been any weight gain since surgery.

Photos might help.

All the best. 

Jourdan Gottlieb, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 45 reviews

Tummy tuck tightening after three months

A number of different causes exist for your current problem.  In the extreme circumstance that you would need more upper abdominal tightening then you would need another tummy tuck in order to achieve that.  You should first make sure that the area is not a seroma - or fluid filled cavity.  If so, drainage is indicated usually with a needle.  Also, some patients require more than three months to fully recover from the whole body swelling that is common after this procedure. Lastly, sometimes this region just has some retained fat that can be reduced with liposuction. Hope that helps.

Neil Gottlieb, MD
Philadelphia Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

Tightening the abdominal muscles


Thank you for the question.  If your abdominal muscles are loose at 3 months they will not tighten with further healing.  To tighten your abdominal wall the plastic surgeon will need access.  If you have a waistline horozontal incision thats what would have to be used and a full tummy tuck redo would essentially be done.  This will require a drain and a binder similar to the initially surgery.  The recovery will likley be a little better since the same plane of dissection would be used.

All the best,

Dr. Remus Repta

Remus Repta, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 166 reviews

Swelling of abdomen 3 months after a tummy tuck

Swelling can just be that swelling. It can also be fluid. An exam in person would be valuable to figure this out.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

Swelling on Some Days after Tummy Tuck

   Changes in abdominal size from day to day is more consistent with swelling than residual abdominal wall laxity.  Kenneth Hughes, MD Los Angeles, CA

Kenneth B. Hughes, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 496 reviews

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.