Do You Get More Swelling from a Tummy Tuck if You Are Overweight to Begin With?

Weight 120 Height 5'4 Was wondering if weight contributes to swelling?

Doctor Answers 7

Swelling after abdominoplasty

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Overweight patients have more swelling and a lot of other problems after abdominoplasty.  HWP patients like yourself also have swelling and it can vary.  If you are concerned, you should see your surgeon.  The other thing that can be a problem after surgery is a fluid collection called a seroma.  These should usually be drained.

Seattle Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 77 reviews

Swelling with Tummy Tuck and being overweight

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One should expect a moderate degree of swelling with a tummy tuck procedure. This is a normal physiologic response to the trauma your body experiences with any sort of surgcical procedure. It tends to be true that those who weigh more tend to swell more. There is just that much more tissue to absorb the extra fluid in the tissues. 

At your height and weight, I would not expect an extensive amount of swelling with a tummy tuck.

Swelling after surgery

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Everyone responds slightly differently to surgery. Some get more swelling than others. It also depends upon the extent of surgery as well.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 30 reviews


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From your measurements, it does not seem you are overweight. So i guess in your case, it is not an issue. Significant obesity does affect post-operative swelling.

Swelling and surgery for tummy tuck

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Swelling is a natural response to surgery independent of your weight. It is more a function of how extensive your surgery is and how long the surgery takes.

J. Jason Wendel, MD, FACS
Nashville Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 221 reviews

Weight and postoperative swelling

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At 5' 4" and 120 pounds, you are not overweight nor do you have to worry about any possible effects of weight on swelling. The answer to your question is that there are so many factors that play a role in swelling including individual ones unrelated to weight that weight issues may not be that important.

Steven Turkeltaub, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

Swelling after Tummy Tuck Surgery?

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Thank you for the question.

Every patient will experience a different recovery after tummy tuck surgery;  this difference will include the amount of swelling present. There are many factors involved with the degree of swelling experienced;  I have not found that a patient's starting weight necessarily influences the amount of swelling present.

Some general thoughts about swelling after tummy tuck surgery may be helpful:

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. This may be diagnosed on physical examination  with your surgeon examining you in different bodily positions. 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.

I hope this helps.

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.