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 15

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

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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

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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

Post-abdominoplasty swelling

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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
4.9 out of 5 stars 86 reviews

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

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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
4.9 out of 5 stars 173 reviews

Swelling after tummy tuck

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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
4.2 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Chronic swelling after Tummy Tuck

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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.

Nirav Savalia, MD
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 46 reviews

Swelling after abdominoplasty

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Tummy Tuck Recovery

The first 2-3 days after surgery there is a good amount of pressure and tightness from repairing the stretched rectus muscles. The feeling is similar to a hard workout. We usually prescribe pain pills such as Norco (Vicodin) or Percocet and a muscle relaxant such as Soma or Flexeril. You will need help from someone the first 2-3 days. A drain is placed which is removed at approximately 1 to 1.5 weeks. Most people usually go on with light normal activities at that time. No heavy lifting or exercising for 6 weeks. The results will be visible right after the procedure. It takes several months for the swelling to subside. Generally, patients wear the compression garment 6 weeks and longer if there continues to be swelling.  Most swelling subsides at 3 months, however, a small residual can take up to 6 months to a year.    

Best of luck, Dr. Michael Omidi

An in-person exam with a board-certified plastic surgeon is the best way to assess your needs and provide true medical advice.

Michael M. Omidi, MD, FACS
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 120 reviews

Can last up to a year

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Swelling lasts for weeks, and for total resolution it can take a year or so. However you should see most of the swelling go away well before that time. Your surgeon should give you advice on how to ease swelling, such as limiting physical activity and cutting back on sodium.

Ronald Levine, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 25 reviews

Normal to swell after an abdominoplasty

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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 20 reviews


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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.


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.