I recently had an extended abdominoplasty done, can't fit in any pants that I normally wore before the surgery is this common?

Doctor Answers 7

Post-surgical swelling will take some time to resolve.

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Swelling is an unavoidable side effect of almost any plastic surgery procedure, especially abdominoplasty. The fact that you can’t fit into the pants you normally wear is to be expected. During the first several weeks of your tummy tuck recovery, it’s best to wear loose-fitting pants with a comfortable waistline. As your swelling gradually subsides, you’ll be able to return to your usual clothing options. Best of luck to you!

Swelling after tummy tuck

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Thank you for your question. After a tummy tuck surgery,  there is a process of swelling and bruising that peaks at 3 days after surgery and then undergoes the first stage of major resolution in the first 2 weeks after surgery.  The lateer phase of healing takes place over the 2-3 months after surgery where everything really settles and softens.  It is after this time that we are getting close to the final result, though this varies patient to patient. The swelling must be the reason why you can´t fit in the clothes you wore before surgery. 

Swelling Period after Tummy Tuck

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Most patients will be placed in an abdominal binder, which they will wear the first week. There is usually a fair amount of swelling and the binder should be opened several times a day so that there are no pressure points. After the first 7 to 10 days the patient is placed in an elastic garment for compression over the next six weeks. You can return to full activity without restrictions at 6 weeks.

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.

While it is normal to experience swelling for a number of months after the tummy tuck there is no reason that you should be afraid to visit your surgeon to have the area examined for proper healing. If you are worried at all a follow-up appointment would be good to make sure that healing is progressing well. Good luck.

Jed H. Horowitz, MD, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 116 reviews

Post op swelling

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Post op swelling is completely common after a tummy tuck. I know that it is frustrating but you will need to wait about 6 months for it to completely disappear so that you can see your final results. 


Kouros Azar

Kouros Azar, MD
Thousand Oaks Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 38 reviews

Post Op Swelling

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Thank you for your question. Swelling can last many months post op so Typically, people feel a bit thick around the middle for a while. Eventually, the expectation is that your waistline will be slimmer and tummy flatter than before. Try to wait until 6 months post op before evaluating.

All the best


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You will be more swollen for a few months after surgery before you get to your final contour and waistline.  You should be patient during this period but you should see significant improvement. 

Tummy Tuck - Post Op Swelling?

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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.

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.