How Do I Know if my Muscles Were Pulled Tight Enough?

I am 9 weeks post op full tummy tuck with muscle repair and lipo. How do I know if my plastic surgeon sewed my tummy muscles tight enough? I hear other people say that thier muscles feel really tight but mine feel no different than they did before. They were tight and sore expecially when I coughed or sneezed for the first 3 to 4 weeks but now they feel normal again, is this normal?

Doctor Answers 5

How to appreciate the muscle tightening from a tummy tuck.

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

The plication or tightening of the abdominal muscles in a tummy tuck varies between patients. This is because the amount of separation varies depending on the individual. For women with a large separation, the repair can feel very tight whereas the repair of a minor separation may have very little discomfort associated with it. You describe appropriate tightness and tenderness in the first 3-4 weeks followed by resolution of symptoms. This is very normal.

What's more important is whether the repair corrected the separation. A way to test this is to lie on your back, do a straight leg raise and lift your head off the ground at the same time. This helps to isolate the rectus muscles (the muscles which are "repaired") in your abdomen. The muscles should be about half an inch apart and you should see no soft bulges in the center.

Having less pain doesn't mean you had less of an operation, but rather you recovered quicker. Your results are quite nice and it's good to hear you are no longer in any discomfort.

Boca Raton Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

"Tight enough" does not equal soreness for months!

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Your photographs seem to show a good result, and at 9 weeks post-op you should be able to do a straight-leg lift of both legs that tightens your abdominal wall and shows you the degree of tightening your surgeon achieved for you. Careful surgery and minimal bleeding and scar tissue yield quick(er) recovery! You had tightness at first, and just got better more quickly than your friends who had the same operation. Some patients may also have more stretch in their tissues than others. What you are describing is quite normal.

It appears you should be thanking your surgeon for a job well-done rather than questioning whether or not the muscle repair was tight enough! Enjoy your new appearance! Cheers!

Richard H. Tholen, MD, FACS
Minneapolis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 263 reviews

Is my Tummy Tuck tight enough?

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

You seem to have had a nice result from your tummy tuck.  The excess abdominal skin is gone and your abdomen looks tighter from the front facing picture you have displayed.  The best way to see is by looking at a side view picture of your belly completely relaxed both before and after your tummy tuck. 

In general, you healed quickly and your stomach looks much better.  You said that you were tight at first and therefore have probably just healed faster than others you may know.  It is unlikely, but not impossible, that the stitches placed inside to tighten the muscles may have loosened or popped.  However, you would have felt a great deal of pain and likely felt a popping or tearing feeling.  Most commonly, the abdominal muscles relax a bit after healing and that is normal, leaving you with the look you currently have.....which is much better than before.

Erez Sternberg, MD
Jacksonville Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

How Do I Know if my Muscles Were Pulled Tight Enough?

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

You will be able to see a difference in your abdominal conture that would be signifecantly different then your pre-operative state. When palpating your abdomen from the superior portion down to your pubis you would feel that the abdomen is tighter then it was before if you had laxity in your abdominal wall.

It is also importent to know that tightining the abdomen to much can have serious complications involved.

Its is also some what early in the course to see the full reults of the surgery. 6 months would be a good time!

Tummy tuck results

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Based on the pictures you've provided, it seems like you have the expected result after the tummy tuck procedure.

In order to evaluate the abdominal wall muscle repair,  you can palpate the abdominal wall muscles in different positions (in the upright and bent over position)  to get a good idea if the plication  repair is intact or tight enough. If you notice a significant “bulge” when you are bent or when your abdominal wall is relaxed (for example after expiration of a breath) then you may be experiencing failure or laxaty of the plication repair.

Continue to follow-up with your plastic surgeon with specific questions and concerns.

Best wishes.

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.