Post Tummy Tuck Swelling - How Long Should It Last?

It has been over 6 months after my tummy tuck and I am still very swollen, especially around my belly button area. Sticks way out when this happens. I asked my plastic surgeon if I could have a hernia, and she said no it is swelling. I haven't read that anyone has swelling like this after so many months. Can someone please help? Thanks.

Doctor Answers 13

Swelling around belly button 6 months after tummy tuck may be fat, hernia, or lax muscles

Your doctor needs to examine you and give a good explanation-otherwise a second opinion may be necessary.

If in fact you have a significant protrusion around your belly button there are many possible causes.

A hernia is a possibility but I would have expected that a hernia would have been discovered during your ecxam prior to the tummy tuck surgery.

Localized fat deposits are a possibility.

Most common in my experience is failure (suture break) of or incomplete muscle repair if in fact a muscle repair was done during your abdominoplasty.

Your doctor can address these concerns with you.

Proper surgical contouring of the abdominal wall

While it's not unusual to still experience some swelling six months after an adominoplasty, chronic or long-term focal swelling or exaggerated protuberance of the umbilicus should introduce questions to your surgeon as to possible causes.

Patients can expect that while much of the swelling associated with either liposuction or tummy tuck procedures usually resolves within three to six months, total resolution and softening of the surgical scar can often require up to one year.

During the abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) procedure, your surgeon usually performs a plication (abdominal wall tightening), and trimming of the excess fat around the umbilical stalk. If the plication sutures become loose, if the rectus facias around the umbilicus is not plicated, or the stalk is not adequately trimmed, then you can expect a postoperative bulge around the umbilicus.

My suggestion is continued periodic evaluation by your surgeon for several more months. If, at that point, your swelling is solely confined to the belly button area, I think it's reasonable to have a discussion regarding possible surgical management.

Jeffrey D. Hoefflin, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 14 reviews

Post-abdominoplasty swelling

As stated there are many possible causes for the abdominal fullnes of the umbilical region. However, following tummy tuck the most likely explanation is relaxation of the diastasis repair sutures. Massage may help in resolution of the swelling. Diagnostic imaging may be useful. A second opinion is always a reasonable option.

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 69 reviews

Swelling at 6 months after a tummy tuck should be significantly reduced


Thank you for the question.  The majority of the swelling following a tummy tuck should be gone at 6 months.  Fullness at 6 months should be considered either excess fat, pseudobursa, or lax abdominal wall.  An examination should help determine which of these are the likely source of your abdominal fullness.  A CT scan, although not necessary,  may also shed additinal light on the subject.

All the best,

Dr. Remus Repta

Remus Repta, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 144 reviews

Swelling after tummy tuck

Chronic swelling after a tummy tuck can be a lot of different things. It could be untreated local fat deposits, it could still be residual swelling, it could be a seroma, it could be excess skin. You would have to be examined.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 23 reviews

Chronic swelling after Tummy Tuck


It is still early, but you should not be seeing localized swelling around any one particular area. Without a picture or exam, it's impossible to say the cause, however, a hernia is not out of the question, nor is seroma, fatty deposition, or inadequate plication. Or it could be completely normal, and resolve over time. You need to ask your surgeon to clarify the other possiblities other than normal post-operative swelling.

Normal to swell after an abdominoplasty

Swelling is a normal aspect of any surgical procedure. This can be asymmetric. There are also other causes of swelling such as a fluid collection or a hematoma. If there are questions you should see your plastic surgeon.

Jeffrey Zwiren, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 14 reviews


It is unusual for so much swelling to still exist after 6 months if your recovery has been going normally, and I am concerned that you mention it is concentrated around your belly button. You may want to get a second opinion from a board certified plastic surgeon. It could be indication of something else.


Post Tummy Tuck Swelling - How Long Should It Last?

Congratulations on having undergone the tummy tuck surgery. Yes, significant swelling after exercise may occur after these operations;  this may persist  during the first year  postoperatively, sometimes longer, after tummy tuck surgery (it will dissipate once the lymphatic/venous drainage system has returned back to normal function). Sometimes, the use of a compressive garment may be helpful; hopefully, you will find one that you can utilize without  it being too much of a nuisance. Best wishes.  +1 

Swelling Following Tummy Tuck Surgery: What to Expect

The wound healing process following abdominoplasty lasts for over a year.  Most of the swelling resolves in six to eight weeks, but small amounts of swelling may persist for up to a year.  The procedure inevitably interrupts the abdominal lymphatic drainage, and this takes time to re-establish itself. 

                  Patients can minimize swelling with compression garments, massage and limitations on activity level.  It’s important to remember that swelling is a normal part of wound healing and should resolve with time. 

                  When localized areas of swelling are present a careful evaluation should be undertaken.  This type of swelling might indicate the presence of a more significant problem such as a hernia.  For this reason, its important to have close follow-up with your surgeon until this situation has resolved.

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.