How do I know if my stomach is just swollen or is it retaining liquid after my tummy tuck? (Photo)

I had a tummytuck 13 days ago (04/04/2014). My drainage was taken out 3 days ago (04/16/2014). Before and the day of my drainage being taken out my stomach was flat. Since the night of my drainage being taken out my stomach has been growing a little every day. I feel pressure on my stitches and bubbles in my stomach. Now I am starting to look pregnant. I like to know if I am just swollen from the tummytuck or am I retaining liquid under my tummytuck. Please advise. Thank you.

Doctor Answers 12

Swollen tummy

Thank you for the picture. If you had your drain removed and you developed swelling right after its removal I think you probably have fluid. This fluid needs to be drained. I will contact your plastic surgeon.

Good luck.

Earl Stephenson Jr MD DDS FACS

Post Tummy Tuck

Inform your surgeon of your concerns for his evaluation and advise. Good luck! Dean Vistnes.

M. Dean Vistnes, MD
Bay Area Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 47 reviews

Swelling or fluid retention?

Based on your description, it could be a seroma and I would encourage you to return to your plastic surgeon for followup.  

Robert L. Kraft, MD, FACS
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 40 reviews

Tummy Tuck Postop

Your concerns are valid but it is very difficult to tell you if your situation is from normal swelling or from fluid collection with only a photo like this.  You need to be examined, and I stress to anyone with questions like this after their procedure- best to contact your surgeon and ask them directly, as she or he will likely want to see you and make sure that you are both comfortable and that all of your questions are answered.

Adam David Lowenstein, MD, FACS
Santa Barbara Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 56 reviews

Fluid in TT

Best to return to your surgeon for a follow up examination. Does sound like fluid retention. Drainage could be needed... 

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

Post Tummy-Tuck Swelling or Liquid Retention

After a tummy-tuck, drains are placed to allow any fluid that accumulates under the skin flap to come out.  However, if after the drain is removed there is a sloshing feeling or fluid shift type of feeling (like a water bed) it can indicate that additional fluid has accumulated under the flap.  Ordinary swelling just feels boggy, but there is no sensation of fluid moving around. If however you do have this fluid under the flap it is recommended that it be removed by drawing it out with a needle to speed up recovery from the surgery.  

Scott Wells, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 reviews


Please contact your board certified plastic surgeon regarding your concerns. Upon examination your surgeon will be able to address your concerns. Best of luck!

Christine Sullivan, MD
Columbus Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

Advice re: Swelling post abdominoplasty/tummy tuck

Hi and thanks for your question. Yes, from what you describe it sounds as if you may indeed have some fluid called a seroma. I'd advise that you make an appointment to see your PS. This can happen. It can be treated with aspiration with or without steroid injection that has been shown to reduce recurrence. In fact I now rarely use drains after a tummy tuck, since I use a combination. of internal suturing and a special internal fibrin glue/sealant. Wearing a compression garment can help. Good luck.

Sultan Hassan, MD, FRCS(Plast)
London Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 103 reviews

Suspicions about fluid collections below the abdominal drape after abdominoplasty requires a visit to the plastic surgeon's offi

I cannot tell whether you have swelling or a fluid collection without physical examination. If you have concerns you should visit your plastic surgeon.

Vincent N. Zubowicz, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 35 reviews

How do I know if my stomach is just swollen or is it retaining liquid after my #tummy tuck?

Based on your photo and description I think you are right to be concerned about fluid reaccumulating (a seroma).  You should contact your surgeon for an assessment.  You may need to have the fluid aspirated (removed with a needle) or, rarely, to have a drain reinserted.  Neither is pleasant (!) but your recovery will be expedited with the appropriate intervention at this stage.

I hope that this helps and good luck,

Dr. E

Alan M. Engler, MD, FACS
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 125 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.