Is It Normal to Have Swelling After Removing an Abdominal Binder?

Hi I'm 5 weeks post op. Had a full tummy tuck with liposuction. My doctor advised me to wear my compression garment 24h a day for 4 weeks. The first two days after I removed my garment there was little swelling but on the third day I noticed more swelling which is still persistent. Gets worst in the evening and goes down a bit in the mornings.Is this normal? if so how long does it last. Would it be better to start wearing my compression garment again? Thanks for your help.

Doctor Answers 13

Swelling when the binder came off after a tummy tuck

what you are describing is very normal and almost expected. In time as the skin continues to heal and adhere to the muscles, that will happen less and less. In the meantime, if you wish, you could wear a panty girdle during the day to limit the amount of swelling that occurs so it can stick down sooner.

Las Vegas Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 27 reviews

Post op swelling after tummy tuck and what is the value of the binder

Hi,  It is very common to have the yo-yo effect that you are describing post op tummy tuck.  What happens is that the normal vascularization of the redraped  upper abdominal tissue is taken away and will need up to a year to reestablish itself as the vessels regrow into the tissue that was pulled down in your procedure.  As the vessels regrow, then the swelling will be more normal as the day goes by and not be like a "wet sponge" getting engorged as you are upright during the day.  The binder is good to wear but not an absolute.  It does compress the tissue and it seems to be swollen less but that is merely the binder keeping the redraped tissue squeezed.  The swelling will go down over time with or without the binder as long as you are "reattached" and it seems that you are.  Be patient....there will be a lot of interesting changes that you will notice and be quite pleased with as it happens.  Be sure to stay close to your board certified plastic surgeon and have your questions answered.

Steven M. Lynch, MD
Albany Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

Swelling after tummy tuck

every ps has been taught differently to some extent. That is why it is  sometimes called the art of surgery . I tell my abdominoplasties to wear the garment 24/7 for 6-8 weeks then wear the binder 8 hours per day for another 6-8 weeks. The reason is that I believe the inflammatory period last at least 3 months long. I have had patients say that they swell on one side some days and another side another day. The more active they are the more they swell.  Most of my patients prefer to wear a spanx type garement. cheaper , more comfortable which leads to more compliance. I learned alot with doing an abdominoplasty on my nurse. seeing her eveyday in the office I noticed that the garment made her feel better when it was on. but by 3 months she did not feel she need it anymore. So I am an advocate of  garment wear. But check with your PS who is following you and did your surgery.

Paul Albear, MD
Tampa Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Swelling after a tummy tuck

Hello Jolie, yes, it is normal to have swelling 5 weeks after a tummy tuck. It's very common for patients to have significant swelling after a tummy tuck, especially if liposuction is performed at the same time. I advise my patients to wear their garment for at least 4-6 weeks after a tummy tuck. Then, I advise them to switch to a second stage garment, like Spanx. I also advise them to massage these areas and not exercise for 6 weeks after surgery.

I hope this helps and wish you all the best!

James Knoetgen, III, MD
Fresno Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 59 reviews


I see this in some of my patients are well. You may ask your surgeon about wearing a support girdle during the day or exercise when that is permitted. Usually by 2-3 months the temporary swelling completely subsides.

Michael Hueneke, MD
Nashville Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 63 reviews

Is it normal to have swelling after removing an abdominal binder?

Hello! Thank you for your question!. The tummy tuck procedure is an excellent method for contouring of your abdomen, often removing the excess skin as well as tightening the abdominal wall. After nearly all surgical procedures, a potential space is created from where the surgical procedure/dissection was performed. This is especially true for the tummy tuck, in where the abdominal flap is raised off of the abdominal wall and then redraped atop the area to contour the abdomen. The procedure alone promotes swelling and inflammation, which typically lasts for 6-12 weeks. This may even last longer if liposuction has been performed in addition. During this time, a few things may be done to allow adherence of the abdominal skin/soft tissue to readhere to the abdominal wall and close that space. Many surgeons use drains to evacuate the expected serous fluid from building up. Stagnant fluid as such may be a nidus for infection as well as does not allow the tissue to adhere back to its normal anatomic position. Drains usually are removed once output is <30cc/day - usually removed within 3-4 weeks on average, sometimes longer. When this occurs, a seroma may develop - which may require aspiration or surgical evacuation to rid this in order to optimize your result.

This is not an uncommon reason for persistent swelling and/or bulging in a certain area of your belly. Of course, thwarting the development of a pseudobursa, or seroma capsule, is always best, to provide the best result as well as avoid any future procedures for this. This may be a troubling consequence and often compromises your overall result. Thus avoiding this complication, in whatever manner, is the objective. "Drainless" tummy tucks are becoming more popular - basically, the overlying tissue is physically sutured to the abdominal wall to close the potential space. In addition, most surgeons typically restrict vigorous activity/strenuous exercise as well as lifting restrictions of usually <20#, especially the core, for 6-8 weeks to allow healing to continue. Most also often recommend an abdominal compression-type binder or garment, which will serve to provide compression as well as assist to decrease swelling and eliminate the dead-space of the area for at least 6 weeks as well.  It is not uncommon to experience some swelling once the binder is removed - most patients like wearing a compression garment for several weeks past the recommended 6 week period.  For you, if you are experiencing additional swelling, use of such for an extended period may be helpful to you.  After the initial binder, many patients like the Spanx garments. Most patients are able to return to most activities within a couple of weeks, provided they adhere to the restrictions.

Overall, this is a procedure with a high satisfaction rate. Discuss the procedure and postoperative instructions/restrictions with your surgeon, as these will vary among surgeons. Hope that this helps! Best wishes!

Lewis Albert Andres, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

You can wear the garment if it helps

Yes, this is very common and can take a few more weeks to subside. I usually recommend patients wear their garment 24 hours a day for three weeks after their surgery, then only in the day for up to 6 weeks or so, however you should ask your surgeon for their advice. You may want to wear your garment during the day just to alleviate the swelling, or switch to a Spanx type of garment if that is more comfortable.

Jerome Edelstein, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 176 reviews

Tummy Tuck

Swelling is normal and may persist for 4-6 months.  There is a large area to heal so you will have to allow time for that to occur.

Vivek Bansal, MD
Danville Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Tummy tuck Swelling?

Thank you for the question.

As always, it is best to be seen in person ( by your plastic surgeon) for precise diagnosis and treatment.

Abdominal wall "swelling" after tummy tuck may be related to:

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.

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,487 reviews

Swelling 6 Weeks After Tummy Tuck is Normal

Some swelling, especially if you've been wearing a compression garment regularly, should be expected.  It's only been 6 weeks after surgery, and you noted that you've been wearing your compression garment all of the time as instructed, so some swelling to occur after you remove it is normal. 

Every patient is different, so the amount of swelling you have may be different compared to other people.  Also, plastic surgeons vary as to how long you should wear a compression garment after a tummy tuck.  You should talk to your plastic surgeon as to how long he/ she recommends wearing your compression garment.


You may have some increased swelling at the end of the day, if you're on your feet a lot, or if you exercise.  Thiss is normal as well, and should go away when you lie down or when you wake up after a night's sleep.





Roy Kim, MD
San Francisco Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 6 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.