Swelling and upper abdomen protruding - what could this be? (Photo)

When I wake up my belly is flat but as the day goes on I swell; which I expected. What I didn't expect was much of it would be in upper ab area where muscle repair was done. 1 part in particular about 3 in. above belly button/ left of my upper ab muscle is sore. I began feeling it 2 weeks ago after a sneezing fit. In picture with shirt on- after a day of shopping; my stomach swelled up in this area so badly that it looked odd. Also, Is this cellulite or swelling in other pictures?

Doctor Answers 7

Swelling , some advices:

Thank you very much for sharing your concerns with us.

To reduce the swelling, I recommend you perform daily lymphatic drainage massage therapy over the abdomen and wear a postoperative girdle from thigh to the breasts.
If the fter six months post-op, I recommend you send us your photos again, to give you more information about how we can solve this problem.
Kind regards,
Dr. Emma Mallol Cotes.-


Dominican Republic Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 175 reviews

Swelling and Upper Abdomen Protruding

Swelling can persist for several months and will gradually improve and will look better at three months, six months, and even one year. Frequently the pubic area and the scrotal and penis area for men can become very swollen and discolored during the first two weeks due to gravity as this is the lowest area for swelling to accumulate.

It may take several months for a tummy tuck patient’s scars to soften, for sensation to return, and for relaxing of the tight sensation in the abdomen. In the case of extensive surgery, abdominoplasty recovery can be uncomfortable and may take longer. Scars may stay red, become thick or widen. It can take 12-18 months for the scars to settle.

These can be improved with topical treatments such as BioCorneum, Scar Guard, Scar Fade and Mederma. Redness can be improved with laser treatments and the scars can be kept narrow with products such as Embrace.  On occasion, keloids or hypertrophic scars can develop and will need treatment including Kenalog, 5FU and laser.

It is likely that swelling may persist for months, but if you find yourself concerned about healing then it is best to visit your surgeon to have the area examined. You will be able to receive informative advice and details based upon your specific case. Good luck.

Jed H. Horowitz, MD, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 96 reviews

Fullness upper abdomen

The tightness may be related to eating and the plication, it may be swelling, it may be fluid.  Best to review with your surgeon.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 24 reviews

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Swelling and upper abdomen protruding - what could this be? (

Thank you for sharing your question and series of photographs.  It is difficult without an in-person examination to determine what may be taking place.  Most commonly this is residual swelling from surgery which will spontaneously resolve but it would be important to voice your concerns to your surgeon to ensure that other issues are not taking place - discrete fluid collection, muscle laxity, or residual adipose tissue. Once a diagnosis is made, the best treatment plan can be determined.

Nelson Castillo, MD
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Abdominoplasty questions post-operative

Congratulations on a great result post abdominoplasty.  Some of these changes could represent a fascial laxity or could be postoperative swelling.  The best option is to see your Plastic Surgeon and discuss your concerns.  Good luck with your recovery!

Saira Saini, MD
Fayetteville Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

Swelling above navel

Thank you for your inquiry. 

The issue you are having is dependent on the time course following your surgery. This could be related to normal postoperative soft tissue swelling, muscle/abdominal wall plication swelling. However, it could also be related to an abdominal wall buldge. The only way determine the true etiology is for you to contact your board-certified plastic surgeon for an exam. He or she will reassure you and provide the answer you are seeking.

Tummy Tuck Revision/Tummy Tuck/Abdominoplasty/Liposuction/High Definition Procedures

I appreciate your question.

Since there has been a change in your post op course, please contact your surgeon so he/she can examine you and recommend the most appropriate treatment plan at this time.

The best way to assess and give true advice would be an in-person exam.

Please see a board-certified plastic surgeon that specializes in aesthetic and restorative plastic surgery.

Best of luck!

Dr. Schwartz

Board Certified Plastic Surgeon

#RealSelf100Surgeon

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.