Is this swelling or bloating or what?

I am 3 weeks post op from a tummy tuck with muscle repair and lipo to the flanks. I just started my period 5 days ago. I feel like my upper abdomen is all of a sudden swollen or bloated and is no longer flat like it was. Is this normal and will it go back down? I'm not sure if it is because of my period, or normal swelling. I'm stressing out.

Doctor Answers 9

Swelling after tummy tuck

At three weeks post-op it is very common to be swollen. It may also be related to your period.  If concerned, see your surgeon.


New York Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 24 reviews

Swelling or Bloating Post-Op

Swelling can persist for several months and will gradually improve and will look better at three months, six months, and even one year. Frequently the pubic area and the scrotal and penis area for men can become very swollen and discolored during the first two weeks due to gravity as this is the lowest area for swelling to accumulate.

It may take several months for a tummy tuck patient’s scars to soften, for sensation to return, and for relaxing of the tight sensation in the abdomen. In the case of extensive surgery, abdominoplasty recovery can be uncomfortable and may take longer. Scars may stay red, become thick or widen. It can take 12-18 months for the scars to settle.

These can be improved with topical treatments such as BioCorneum, Scar Guard, Scar Fade and Mederma. Redness can be improved with laser treatments and the scars can be kept narrow with products such as Embrace.  On occasion, keloids or hypertrophic scars can develop and will need treatment including Kenalog, 5FU and laser.

With all of this that can occur during the healing process it is best to visit your surgeon with all questions and concerns that arise so that you can gain the best advice for your specific case. Good luck.

Jed H. Horowitz, MD, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 96 reviews

Tummy tuck

Thank you for your question.

Without before and after photographs or an in-person examination, it is difficult to determine the exact cause of this but at 3 weeks post op, it is most likely swelling that is beginning to resolve. I would recommend scheduling an appointment with your surgeon for a physical examination if you have having concerns in your post-operative recovery. They are your best and most accurate resource. Best of luck in your recovery. 
Sincerely,

James Fernau, MD, FACS
Board Certified ENT
Board Certified Plastic Surgery
Member of ASPS, ASAPS, ISAPS, The Rhinoplasty Society, AAFPRS, OTO/HNS, ASLMS, International Federation for Adipose Therapeutics & Science

James Fernau, MD, FACS
Pittsburgh Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 66 reviews

Tummy Tuck - Post Op Swelling?

Thank you for your question. You should expect to have swelling for three to six months following tummy tuck surgery. Use of a properly fitted compression garment will help decrease the length and severity of the post-operative swelling. As the swelling decreases, the contour of your abdomen, flanks, and hips will dramatically improve. Please follow your plastic surgeons specific advice regarding your level of physical activity. Hope this helps and good luck with your recovery.

Postop bloating

It is difficult for any of us online to answer this without knowing your particular story, preop exam, surgery details, etc.  The only person who can advise you on this is your operating surgeon.  Contact them today for further advice. 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 52 reviews

Is this swelling or bloating or what?

Thank you for sharing your question, and I am sorry that this swelling has caused you to stress out.  It is difficult without an in-person examination, or full series of photographs, to determine what may be taking place.  Most commonly this is residual swelling from surgery which will spontaneously resolve but it would be important to voice your concerns to your surgeon to ensure that other issues are not taking place - discrete fluid collection, muscle laxity, or residual adipose tissue. Best wishes.

Nelson Castillo, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 43 reviews

Is this swelling

I'm sorry to hear about the concerns you have after tummy tuck surgery.  As you likely know, your plastic surgeon will be your best resource for precise diagnosis...


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.  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.

   

Best wishes. 

Combination of things...

Thank you so much for this question. My guess is that you have the normal swelling from the tummy tuck and this has been compounded by swelling from your menstrual cycle. Some of the swelling should resolve with the resolution of your menstrual cycle and some will linger until you're fully healed. I tell patients that at 2 months after tummy tuck surgery 90% of the swelling is gone. Speak with your plastic surgeon about lymphatic massage and arnica cream as an aid to resolve swelling faster. Best wishes, Dr. ALDO :)

Aldo Guerra, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 190 reviews

Swelling after abdominoplasty

If you have developed a new area of swelling, you should follow-up with your plastic surgeon for assessment.  It is possible the swelling is a fluid collection called a seroma and will need to be drained.  Good luck!

Kelly Killeen, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 6 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.