Localized Muscle Pain After Tummy Tuck and Breast Lift

Today is my 22nd day post-op from a full Tummy Tuck and Breast Lift. Five days ago, I bent over and seemed to pull something. Right afterwards I felt a stabbing pain on my right side 3 inches down from my ribs close to my midline. It is localized to one spot.

The pain is stabbing and burning, and has not gone away for 5 days straight. I saw my plastic surgeon and he said the stitches were intact, and I probably pulled a muscle. I am in a lot of pain, but the rest of the area is tolerable pain and getting better. Is there any way to check to see if something is wrong. Would an untrasound help?

Doctor Answers 6

Pain after tummy tuck

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Most likely this pain was from a pull of the muscle or on the plication. If your doctor saw you and he thinks you are OK, then you probably are.

New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Pain after tummy tuck

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it is normal after abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) to experience some muscle discomfort. Pain should be controlled with pain medication and muscle relaxers. It sounds like you may have stressed your suture line which may have pulled the muscle leading to the pain you are experiencing. This should improve. It may be helped with some muscle relaxers such as Valium. However, you should discuss this with your surgeon. Good luck with your recovery.

It's common to have some discomfort after a tummy tuck

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What you are describing does happen from time to time, and it usually represents a slight pull of the muscles or pulling on the sutures that have been used to tighten the muscles. If there is no obvious deformity of the abdomen, you should be fine, but there is no great test other than your surgeon's exam to determine if anything else is going on. Some patients will experience pain or even some burning, but this will go away as everything settles dwon over the next 6-8 weeks in most cases. Time is on your side, so let things heal and contineu to follw your surgeon's advice.

Shahram Salemy, MD, FACS
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 155 reviews

Pain after tummy tuck

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Hi there-

It sounds like you probably strained your suture line, or less likely, that you tore it a bit. If the contour of your abdomen still looks as good as it did before, I think it's unlikely you tore through the suture line, especially as the repair usually does not rely on only one suture...

In any case, I don't think there is anything to be done right now- I would follow your surgeon's advice carefully and keep all of your appointments for follow up. After a suitable healing period, if there is a problem that needs to be dealt with, your surgeon will be in the best position to do so for you safely and comfortably, with their greater understanding of the initial procedure you had.

Hopefully it's just a bit of a strain at your suture line and you'll progress to a beautiful outcome.

Pain after Tummy Tuck

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Dear Rogy61, There can be many reasons for pain after surgery- a muscle pull is one of them- also- infection, seroma, hematoma, suture failure and referred pain from another area or inflammed sensory nerve.

The pain can also arise from inflammation of the veins that run from the breast down to the tummy. This is known as Mondor's disease. this will improve with Anti-inflammatories and massage.

if there is no change in the area and no other symptoms then local massage and pain control is good place to start. An ultrasound may help if you have increased symptoms/pain or persisiting symptoms interfering with your recovery and daily activities.

you are best to return to your MD and inquire about your continued symptoms for management and reassurance.

With Warm Regards,

Trevor M Born MD

Trevor M. Born, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 126 reviews

Pain after Tummy Tuck is common

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An ultrasound might help to visualize the area but even so there is littlte that you can do or would do at this point in time so there are few reasons to obtain one.

It is possible that you pulled a stitch. However, there are other stitches which should retain the result. Rarely does a whole operation depend on a single stitch. I would rely on your surgeon's evaluation who is in the best position to judge your outcome.

It is also possible that sensation is returning and that you are becoming increasingly aware of pain in your abdomen. As you are undoubtedly are aware, you have little if any sensation in your lower abdomen and a slow creeping return of sensation from the outside-in.

You may want to ask your surgeon if you can now take NSAIDs to manage the pain and inflammation.

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.