What Could Be Causing my Upper Abdomen to Swell After Tummy Tuck?

I am 9 weeks post tummy tuck, my upper abdomen (between my belly button and under my breast) seems more swollen at times, usually in the afternoon. I am still wearing my garment during the day, my surgeon said to wear it until week 12. Please advise?

I saw my surgeon, he thought could be fluid but he checked and there was none. The only other answer he gave is that my muscles are weak. He said he tightened them and it is impossible for the stiches to come off so that is not what is causing the upper bulge. Just looking for other advice, Thanks.

Doctor Answers 6

Swelling of upper abdomen following tummy tuck: beware the garment

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On rare occasions, I have seen the compression garments "gather" around your midsection causing a tourniquet like effect with swelling above this area similar to the swelling seen above a tight leg stocking.

Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 86 reviews

Many answers for upper abdomen swelling

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1. Swelling from liposuction

2. Swelling from muscle tightening.

In the upper half of the abdomen, especially after a high tension abdomenoplasty, there can be excess swelling in the upper abdomen.

3. Fluid.

Although your doctor has ruled this out.

4. Widening of the muscle after repair.

That seems like an unfortunate event; you should have heard a pop or felt some activity that caused the muscles to release.

5. Relaxation of the muscles as a result of no exercise or activity. My advice is Pilates.

Robert M. Freund, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 34 reviews

Anatomy of bulges

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The upper abdominal subcutaneous tissues are often thicker than in the lower abdomen especially, after a Tummy Tuck. This can be due to intrinsic presence of subcutaneous fat, or because the lower abdominal soft tissue layer is pulled tighter, thus producing a thinning effect.

There can also be a side-to-side gathering of the upper abdominal fat layer and skin if the upper abdominal muscles are pulled together significantly without redistribution of the overlying soft tissues. This bunching up of the soft tissue can produce a central bulging effect. So, the fullness can be an absolute or a relative difference in thickness.

It may also be a consequence of the dynamic circulation, particularly of lymphatic fluid, of the upper abdomen. The usual drainage of this area is away from the belly button, towards the axilla. If the area becomes traumatized, especially by liposuction, this lymphatic circulation can be disturbed, and the edema has a difficult time to flow aganist gravity, and can collect as a ridge of swelling in the upper abdomen.

Robin T.W. Yuan, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon

Abdominal Swelling Following Surgery

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The presence of a significant abdominal bulge several months following abdominoplasty surgery should be investigated.Especially if the bulge wasn’t present in the immediate post-operative period.This type of bulge could occur for a variety of reasons including swelling, seroma formation, encapsulated hematoma, residual muscle weakness, recurrent separation of the muscles, intra-abdominal fat excess, subcutaneous fat, hernia formation and possibly fat necrosis.
Under these circumstances, it’s appropriate to obtain ultrasound and possibly MRI studies.Depending upon the results, revisional surgery may be indicated.For these reasons it’s important to consult your plastic surgeon.Your surgeon should be able to formulate an appropriate treatment plan.

Periumbilical swelling

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Periumbilical swelling after a tummy tuck is not unusual.  Since the surgeon did not feel it was fluid, it could be swelling or residual fatty tissue under the skin.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Swelling in the upper abdomen after a tummy tuck

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Tummy tucks are very popular and effective technique to contour the abdomen and tightened the patient's waist. During the surgery, your surgeon will perform several suture techniques to tighten the muscle layer you a smaller waist. It is possible that the bulge in your upper abdomen may be a slight loosening of the sutures. However the best way to determine the cause is to return to your plastic surgeon for an examination. They will be able to determine if this bulge is from the loosening of muscle layer or if this is a discrete collection of fat. Either way this bulge may be fixed with a small surgery.

To learn more about tummy tucks, see photos, and help you decide which one is best for you, please visit us at the link below:

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.