Is It Normal to Have a Very Swollen Belly After Tummy Tuck? (photo)

I had my tummy tuck complet there 1month. and since my belly swells. no serum., and I feel pain in any effort to muscles. is that it is normal that my stomach will look after 1month of tummy tuck. if so how will the swelling last? my scar and it's gonna get better? thank you very much

Doctor Answers 2

Swollen Belly After Tummy Tuck?

Thank you for your question and for the photos. Without some pre-op photos to look at it is difficult to answer your question.

A tummy tuck will allow for removal of excess skin and fat, and some tightening of the abdominal wall. What it will not do is reduce the intraabdominal contents.

Swelling after TT surgery can be due to several issues

  • swelling in the soft tissues from the manipulation of surgery itself.
  • It can be present due to seroma or hematoma.
  • It can also occur due to use of narcotic pain meds which reduce intestinal function.
  • It can be due to breakdown of the muscle tightening done during surgery.

For the first three of these possibilties, improvement is likely. If the "swelling" is due to intraabdominal girth, only weight loss will help.


As far as the scar goes, it is probably at its maximum thickness and redness at this time (peaks at six weeks on average). It actually looks quite good in the photos you attached. Expect it to improve over the course of one year.

Thank you and best wishes. Do continue to follow up with your surgeon, who can work  on these issues.




Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 45 reviews

Swelling after Tummy Tuck?

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

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.