Is It Normal That my Tummy Looks Bigger Now Than Before?

I had a tummy tuck 3 weeks ago and my stomach looked flatter before than it does now. I'm concern that it is because of my diet and I wish I can start working out now so I can keep it flat. I really don't know what to think, maybe it is swelling? I don't know how to tell if is swelling.

Doctor Answers 7

Tummy tuck swelling

I have to agree with the others, your tummy looks much better now than before surgery.  At 3 weeks it is normal to have swelling still so I expect that your results will continue to improve.  I wouldn't worry- continue to wear your compression garment if you have one, minimize salt intake and drink a lot of water.  Good luck!

Reno Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 40 reviews

Tummy bigger after tummy tuck?

Are you saying that your tummy looks bigger than BEFORE the tummy tuck? Really? You sure? Your photos certainly don't show that. Or are you saying that your tummy looked greatly improved after your tummy tuck, but now seems a little more swollen than at a week or so postop? That may make more sense. Swelling can come and go after a tummy tuck. It can take months before all swelling is gone, all scar tissue has flattened, and patients achieve their final result. If you have swelling that feels like a "waterbed" with a fluid wave in the lower tummy, this can be due to a seroma or fluid collection, and your doctor should assess this.

Robert M. Grenley, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 87 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 1,485 reviews

Excellent tummy tuck

I would congratulate your doctor on giving you an excellent tummy tuck.  There will be some swelling for at least 4 months but you already look great.  It will only get better with time, proper diet, exercise when your doctor allows and wearing the compression garment as prescribed.  Enjoy!

Richard P. Rand, MD, FACS
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 67 reviews

Swelling after tummy tuck

Yes it is likely that you are still swollen. Given the excellent result in your one week post op photo, I have no doubts you will look great. Continue wearing your garments and routine follow up with your ps.

Delio Ortegon, MD
San Antonio Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 25 reviews


Given you before and after photos, your results look very good-make sure you are wearing your compression garments 24/7 in order not to cause swelling which you may feel and hence you may feel like you look bigger

Edward J. Bednar, MD
Charlotte Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 124 reviews

You dolook better

I am surprised that you feel you look bigger. Your before and after pictures show great improvements. Please continue with your workout and diet.

Kamran Khoobehi, MD
New Orleans Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 122 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.