Swelling after tummy tuck: is it normal to look more swollen above incision area 3 weeks after TT?

I know tummy tuck swelling takes a while to go away. But, I feel like I'm MORE swollen by my incision area than before? Could it be that i'm doing more daily activities? It was literally flat after surgery. Now that the drain came out, (maybe not related) I see more swelling concentrated above the incision area. Like a little pooch. Can I do anything to make it better? .... ugh photos won't upload. I'm not overweight just had TT to rid some stretch marks and a little loose skin from pregnancies.

Doctor Answers 10

Swelling

It is a common complaint for patients that undergo tummy tucks to feel swollen after surgery. Don't judge your look until you have given yourself time to heal and recover. A few things that may help:
1. After surgery,make sure your garment is still giving you the appropriate compression. If too loose, it's not helping. If its too tight, your legs will swell.
2. decrease yout salt intake. Drink plenty of water. That helps alot with the swelling. Many times patients drink less water thinking it will make the swelling resolve. The opposite is true.
3. Change positions frequently. If you are in a chair/desk position most of the time. Make sure you are getting up and walking around frequently to help with circulation.
4. Eat high fiber fruits and veggies to help with constipation and bloating which can also make you feel even more uncomfortable and "tight" in a compression garment.
I hope this helps.


Fort Worth Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 43 reviews

Swelling

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It is a common complaint for patients that undergo tummy tucks to feel swollen after surgery. Don't judge your look until you have given yourself time to heal and recover. A few things that may help:
1. After surgery,make sure your garment is still giving you the appropriate compression. If too loose, it's not helping. If its too tight, your legs will swell.
2. decrease yout salt intake. Drink plenty of water. That helps alot with the swelling. Many times patients drink less water thinking it will make the swelling resolve. The opposite is true.
3. Change positions frequently. If you are in a chair/desk position most of the time. Make sure you are getting up and walking around frequently to help with circulation.
4. Eat high fiber fruits and veggies to help with constipation and bloating which can also make you feel even more uncomfortable and "tight" in a compression garment.
I hope this helps.


Fort Worth Plastic Surgeon

Swelling Above Incision 3 Weeks After Tummy Tuck

Swelling that involves the incision and extends above occurs in everyone and is normal part of healing. This can take two or more months before it starts to decrease with full resolution needing about one year. 

If you just have swelling above the incision and involving the lower abdomen, this can represent fluid accumulation deep to the skin - known as a seroma. You don't want to have this. If indeed that is what it is, then serial aspirations of the fluid would be indicated - something that can be done in the office under local anesthesia.

Given your concern, contact your plastic surgeon and have him/her reassess your situation.

Steven Turkeltaub, MD


Swelling Above Incision 3 Weeks After Tummy Tuck

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Swelling that involves the incision and extends above occurs in everyone and is normal part of healing. This can take two or more months before it starts to decrease with full resolution needing about one year. 

If you just have swelling above the incision and involving the lower abdomen, this can represent fluid accumulation deep to the skin - known as a seroma. You don't want to have this. If indeed that is what it is, then serial aspirations of the fluid would be indicated - something that can be done in the office under local anesthesia.

Given your concern, contact your plastic surgeon and have him/her reassess your situation.

Steven Turkeltaub, MD


Swelling vs seroma

Thanks for your question.  You will still have a significant amount of swelling at 3 weeks out from your tummy tuck, and right above the incision is a common place for this swelling to be more obvious.  I would, however, recommend that you be evaluated by your surgeon so that a seroma can be ruled out.  If it is a seroma, it will need to be aspirated in the office.  Best of luck with your recovery!

Swelling vs seroma

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Thanks for your question.  You will still have a significant amount of swelling at 3 weeks out from your tummy tuck, and right above the incision is a common place for this swelling to be more obvious.  I would, however, recommend that you be evaluated by your surgeon so that a seroma can be ruled out.  If it is a seroma, it will need to be aspirated in the office.  Best of luck with your recovery!

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How to differentiate normal swelling from a fluid collection

Following surgery, almost everybody will have some degree of swelling.  Depending on the procedure the swelling will last from a couple of weeks to several months. 

Most physicians advise patients to wear a compression garments and limit for several weeks after surgery of the arms, abdomen, back, and legs to help control swelling.   This is also why your surgeon will ask  you to avoid vigorous exercise  immediately after surgery.

Normal swelling will typically feel "boggy" or firm and may be slightly tender to the touch.   A fluid collection feels very different.   Tissues are typically very soft and you may feel a "sloshing"  when you touch the area.   If you have any questions, we encouraged you to see your surgeon who is in the best position to  identify a fluid collection (seroma).

How to differentiate normal swelling from a fluid collection

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Following surgery, almost everybody will have some degree of swelling.  Depending on the procedure the swelling will last from a couple of weeks to several months. 

Most physicians advise patients to wear a compression garments and limit for several weeks after surgery of the arms, abdomen, back, and legs to help control swelling.   This is also why your surgeon will ask  you to avoid vigorous exercise  immediately after surgery.

Normal swelling will typically feel "boggy" or firm and may be slightly tender to the touch.   A fluid collection feels very different.   Tissues are typically very soft and you may feel a "sloshing"  when you touch the area.   If you have any questions, we encouraged you to see your surgeon who is in the best position to  identify a fluid collection (seroma).

Swelling above incision

Certainly there could be several causes of swelling above your incision.  One is just edema, as the area above the incision, below the belly button will gather fluid by the nature of its location and gravity.  I would advise compression in the garment and patience as it could persist for months.  Massage of the area to push out extra fluid towards the side is a possibility if your surgeon approves. Another explanation is a fluid collection.  Gravity would tend to cause accumulated fluid to gather in the area possibly.  Your surgeon would need to evaluate this and possibly drain the fluid collection.  Again, compression is important.  

Overall its a common area to have persistent swelling for longer periods of time.  And three weeks is still very early in the healing process.  Continue to wear compression at all times, limit activity, and discuss your concerns with your surgeon.  Best wishes!

Swelling above incision

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Certainly there could be several causes of swelling above your incision.  One is just edema, as the area above the incision, below the belly button will gather fluid by the nature of its location and gravity.  I would advise compression in the garment and patience as it could persist for months.  Massage of the area to push out extra fluid towards the side is a possibility if your surgeon approves. Another explanation is a fluid collection.  Gravity would tend to cause accumulated fluid to gather in the area possibly.  Your surgeon would need to evaluate this and possibly drain the fluid collection.  Again, compression is important.  

Overall its a common area to have persistent swelling for longer periods of time.  And three weeks is still very early in the healing process.  Continue to wear compression at all times, limit activity, and discuss your concerns with your surgeon.  Best wishes!

Swelling after TT

Dear Mommymakeover_me,

a photo would help a lot. Generally speaking, swelling after tummy tuck can last up to 4-6 months. However, if there is a significant swelling located in one area then it might be a seroma (fluid collection) which should to be evacuated. I would recommend you to consult your plastic surgeon.

Daniel Barrett, MD, MHA, MS 

Certified, American Board of Plastic Surgery 

Member, Am. Society of Plastic Surgery


Swelling after TT

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Dear Mommymakeover_me,

a photo would help a lot. Generally speaking, swelling after tummy tuck can last up to 4-6 months. However, if there is a significant swelling located in one area then it might be a seroma (fluid collection) which should to be evacuated. I would recommend you to consult your plastic surgeon.

Daniel Barrett, MD, MHA, MS 

Certified, American Board of Plastic Surgery 

Member, Am. Society of Plastic Surgery


Swelling after surgery

Thank you for your question.

It is difficult to determine what is going on without seeing photos. If the swelling is concentrated to above the incision you may have a seroma, which is a collection of fluid under the skin. It is best to be evaluated in person to make sure nothing is going on. Good luck with healing.

Swelling after surgery

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Thank you for your question.

It is difficult to determine what is going on without seeing photos. If the swelling is concentrated to above the incision you may have a seroma, which is a collection of fluid under the skin. It is best to be evaluated in person to make sure nothing is going on. Good luck with healing.

Swelling after a Tummy Tuck

Swelling can be present for several months after a tummy tuck. Some swelling is normal but it is best to be evaluated by your plastic surgeon to make sure that there is not a fluid collection called a seroma. 

Swelling after a Tummy Tuck

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Swelling can be present for several months after a tummy tuck. Some swelling is normal but it is best to be evaluated by your plastic surgeon to make sure that there is not a fluid collection called a seroma. 

Swelling After Tummy Tuck #tummytuck

  • It is not uncommon to actually develop some more swelling (edema) at a few weeks after a tummy tuck.  This may be in part due to the fact that you are more active now. 
  • Quite rarely, after an abdominal drain is removed after a tummy tuck, a fluid collection (seroma) can develop.
  • The last place for edema to finally dissipate is just above and along the length of the lower abdominal incision after a tummy tuck.
  • Over the next couple months this edema will go down considerably. 
  • Don't hesitate to be evaluated by your plastic surgeon if anything changes or you become more concerned. 

Swelling After Tummy Tuck #tummytuck

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}
  • It is not uncommon to actually develop some more swelling (edema) at a few weeks after a tummy tuck.  This may be in part due to the fact that you are more active now. 
  • Quite rarely, after an abdominal drain is removed after a tummy tuck, a fluid collection (seroma) can develop.
  • The last place for edema to finally dissipate is just above and along the length of the lower abdominal incision after a tummy tuck.
  • Over the next couple months this edema will go down considerably. 
  • Don't hesitate to be evaluated by your plastic surgeon if anything changes or you become more concerned. 

Swelling after surgery

Thanks for your question. If you are finding that you are more swollen now compared to when you had your drains removed it is possible that you have a fluid collection known as a seroma. This is something that can be drained painlessly in the office by your operating plastic surgeon. I suggest you schedule a follow-up appointment with them to make sure your recovery is going smoothly. All the best. 

Ian MacArthur, MD, FRCSC
Ottawa Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

Swelling after surgery

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Thanks for your question. If you are finding that you are more swollen now compared to when you had your drains removed it is possible that you have a fluid collection known as a seroma. This is something that can be drained painlessly in the office by your operating plastic surgeon. I suggest you schedule a follow-up appointment with them to make sure your recovery is going smoothly. All the best. 

Ian MacArthur, MD, FRCSC
Ottawa Plastic Surgeon

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.