How Can You Tell the Difference Between Swelling and Just Having Fat After a Tummy Tuck? (photo)

I am almost 2 weeks PO and had a Full TT. I am worried that either I have swelling or I should have had liposuction with my TT. When I asked my PS if I needed liposuction he said , "We'll everyone can use lipo, but spend another $1000, no, you don't need it." It was a strange answer to my question but I took his response in terms that my body does not need any. Please let me know how to distinguish fat from swelling.

Doctor Answers 9

How can you tell the difference between swelling and just having fat after a tummy tuck?

I would definitely wait 6 to 8 weeks after your abdominoplasty to reach any conclusions. It can take up to eight weeks after an abdominoplasty for the abdominal swelling to disappear. Then there may be certain days when you are more active and the abdominal swelling recurs for several days. This is not uncommon. At this point in time, I would not worry too much. I would suggest compression 24 / 7. I would also minimize abdominal muscle work, specifically situps. If your abdomen still troubles you eight weeks after your tummy tuck, I would suggest you revisit with your board-certified plastic surgeon. However, I doubt you'll need revision. Good luck. Sincerely, Dr. Katzen

Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 193 reviews

How Can You Tell the Difference Between Swelling and Just Having Fat After a Tummy Tuck?

Your posted photos are not of enough exposure of the areas. Obtain in person second opinions to understand exactly what surgery you had. 

Darryl J. Blinski, MD
Miami Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 173 reviews

Swelling or fat

You have a good tummy tuck result. Give it time to heal before deciding if you need lipo. It is also relative to the rest of your shape which we cannot see in the photos. You may benefit from some lipo but this is completely elective.

Robert L. Kraft, MD, FACS
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 39 reviews

2 Weeks after Tummy Tuck - Swelling or Fat?

   Patients should wait at least 3 months after tummy tuck before considering liposuction, because swelling figures prominently in the postoperative period.  Additional liposuction can always be done to improve flanks, abdomen, or both.

Kenneth B. Hughes, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 492 reviews

Liposuction can be done after tummy tuck.


Hard to be sure from pictures, but it looks like you can use liposuction.  This can be done in four months, and it is not a big deal.

George J. Beraka, MD (retired)
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

It's too early

2 weeks after surgery you are still swollen.  While most of the swelling should be gone by about 4 weeks, it usually takes 3 months to see the final results.  I would recommend being patients and allowing your body to fully heal before you think of any revisions.

Martin Jugenburg, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 457 reviews

Some swelling typical early after tummy tuck

Your surgeon is in the best position to advise you, but it is likely that there is still some swelling so it is too early to tell if there is excess fat. It is typical with a tummy tuck to remove any extra fat in the area, which isn't usually done with liposuction so that may be the source of your confusion. Lipo may be done in adjacent areas though, such as on the sides to improve the waistline.

Richard Baxter, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 52 reviews

Post-Op Swelling vs Fat

Thank you for the question and photos. You are still very early in the post operative period. There is still a significant amount of swelling present which should resolve over the next 3 months or so. It is far too early to differentiate between fat and normal post operative edema (swelling) at this point.

Be patient and continue to follow up with your plastic surgeon. I hope this helps. Good luck.

Pedro M. Soler, Jr., MD
Tampa Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 39 reviews

How Can You Tell the Difference Between Swelling and Just Having Fat After a Tummy Tuck? (

Time will tell the difference. Chances are that either persistent fat or swelling would look and feel about the same. If it is fat, it won't go away (without diet and exercise).  If it is swelling, it will resolve over the next couple of months. 

It is a bit difficult to make much from the posted photos. There clearly seems to be improvement, but the pre and post op views are not comparable. Ideally we would want to see a front and side view showing the entire abdomen from before and after. If you were able to post such views, you would be more likely to get useful comments.

Thank you for your question, all the best.

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