Why Do I Have a Bulge After a Mini Tummy Tuck?

I just had a mini tummy tuck three weeks ago. The incision is closing up, and when you view my stomach from the side it is not flat, as the doctor indicated it will be. Why do I have this bulge and what is it?


Doctor Answers 6

Bulge after mini tummy tuck

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A bulge after a mini tummy tuck can be many different things including, weakness of the muscles, fluid, blood, to name a few. An exam would be vital to figure this out.

New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Healing post tummy tuck surgery

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A photo would have been very helpful to help diagnose the issues and concerns of bulging. It is very normal for you to have swelling 3 weeks post-op surgery which explains the bulging. However, there are other complications associated with bulging, including fluid accumulation within the tissues, also known as a seroma, which could then be aspirated. I recommend consulting with your plastic surgeon to address your concerns. In some cases, a mini tummy tuck may leave patients with a bulge above the naval area. Since a mini tummy tuck only involves repair and removal of excess tissue from the lower abdomen area below the belly button, the upper abdomen area may appear more prominent, meaning that you may have been a better candidate for a full (standard) tummy tuck. Consult your plastic surgeon with any issues or concerns.

Mini tummy tuck is not an ideal procedure for everyone

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You probably have some residual swelling from your TT 3 weeks ago- but more importantly is the question if all of your abdominal wall laxity was addressed by your 'mini' tummy tuck- a full fascial plication is required for a nice flat tummy- anything less is a compromise.

Bulging after a mini tummy tuck

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Patients should expect a recovery process after a mini tummy tuck that includes swelling, some bruising, and a small amount of bulging. The most important thing to remember is that your body is recovering from a surgical procedure and that this is not the final result. You can help your body recover and increase your comfort by using a compression garment provided by your surgeon. We use special garments that not only address the abdomen but the upper torso and hips as well. After approximately 6 months, you should see your final results from your mini tummy tuck. At that time, if you are still concerned about bulging discuss your concerns with your plastic surgeon who may determine if the voting is caused by the muscle layer, or the fatty layer. The treatments for each layer are quite different.


Bulge after mini-tummy tuck

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Thanks for your question -

It is common to have abdominal swelling after abdominoplasty. At three weeks you're still relatively early in your healing phase. The position of the umbilicus can only be corrected through additional surgery.

Sometimes mini-tucks have less efficacy in correcting abdominal bulges because that procedure does not correct the abdominal rectus diastasis (the muscles of your abdomen).

When thinking about abdominal contour here are things to consider:
Skin envelope
Abdominal fat (subcutaneous and intrabdominal)
Muscles tightness
Intrinsic Swelling
Fluid collections

Skin Envelope -
People complaining of "abdominal bulge" after tummy tuck typically do not have issues with too much skin - that points to issues underneath the skin.

Abdominal fat -
This can be an issue in people who may be a little bit over their ideal body weight at the time of abdominoplasty. Ways to fix this include the tried and true diet and exercise or liposuction. Be sure to allow enough time between tummy tuck and liposuction to minimize complications.

Muscle tightness -
Muscles plication (or tightening) is usually a part of abdominoplasty. Either failure of the sutures or some laxity can cause a bulge. If the change in your contour was sudden or if you felt a pop - think about the plication having ruptured.

Swelling -
This can be the most common cause of contour issues post-abdominoplasty. Patients typically have swelling for two reasons. First surgery causes trauma and the body's response to trauma is to bring additional fluid into the area that has been traumatized. In addition, abdominoplasty involves dividing lymphatic channels (very very small conduits that normally pull fluid out of tissue) - until these channels grow back the area will not be able to remove excess fluid.
It is usually the most dependent (lowest) part of the surgery that stays swollen the longest.
The majority of swelling usually resolves after the first 4-6 weeks but there may be residual swelling for up to 6 months.

Fluid collections -
Seromas (serous fluid collections) or hematomas (collections of old blood) can cause distortions of contour. Normally this will improve on its own but may require drainage.

I hope this helps.

Many different cuases for swelling after mini tummy tuck

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it is hard to know without a picture and a more detailed description of the procedure.

You may be experiencing normal swelling or you may benefit from additional liposuction at a later date.

You may also be experiencing a seroma which may require drainage.

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 86 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.