What Can Be Done to Prevent or Minimize Fluid Build Up or Swelling Following a Tummy Tuck? I

How much does medication help?

Doctor Answers 6

Swelling after tummy tuck

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Swelling is a natural response to surgery. Having a light activity level the first two weeks after surgery will held the drain output decrease more rapidly. You can still get up and go to the bathroom, carry a plate of food to the couch, etc... but take it easy.

There is some evidence that Arnica Montana may help. Ask your surgeon before taking it.

Nashville Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 221 reviews

Swelling after Surgery

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Hi there-

There are now several well done studies proving that the combination of Arnica Montana and Bromelain (in specific doses) shorten the time to resolution of swelling and bruising with plastic surgery.

This is not to say that if you take these you can ignore your surgeon's instructions, or that a binder is not necessary, however.

Ask your surgeon about adding these to your regimen.

Minimizing fluid buildup after abdominoplasty

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Fluid buildup or production after a tummytuck  is going to happen most of the time.  For this reason I like to use abdominal drains in combination to a supportive binder on the abdomen.  The drains may be needed for 7 to 10 days or so..  There are some techniques that attempt to use a quilting  suturing  style that holds the skin down to the muscular structures below the skin.  This has not worked as well for me in my practice.  Limited activities, avoidance of antiinflammatories and aspirin, no driving of a car for two weeks, no straining, no lifting or excessive activities all help to minimize the possibility of bleeding or fluid buildup.


I would always follow the advice of your Plastic Surgeon when  inquiring as to how to minimize the possibility of fluid formation.


Good luck to you.


Frank Rieger M.D.  Tampa Plastic Surgeon

Tummy tuck, swelling

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Swelling is a natural response of your body to any injury, surgery included. That is very different from fluid buildup. For years we have minimized fluid buildup by using fascial advancement quilting sutures. I know, too technical, but that's the short answer.

Ronald V. DeMars, MD
Portland Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

Swelling after Tummy Tuck?

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Thank you for the question.

I do not think that medication is of  significant help in minimizing  swelling following tummy tuck surgery.

Abdominal wall "swelling" after tummy tuck may be related to:

1. Swelling in the soft tissues.  This may take several months to resolve and may worsen with increased activity  or at the end of the day.   Patience  is required to allow for resolution of the swelling. The swelling occurs because of the interruption of venous and lymphatic channels that occurs during the tummy tuck operation.
2. Fluid accumulation in the space between the skin and the abdominal wall muscle.  this may consist of blood ( hematoma)  or serum (seroma).  This fluid accumulation can generally be diagnosed by physical examination ( occasionally ultrasound  may be helpful).  Treatment consists of aspiration;  several episodes of aspiration may be necessary. 
3. Separation of the abdominal wall muscle repair may lead to a swelling/bulge appearance. This may be diagnosed on physical examination  with your surgeon examining you in different bodily positions. One of the steps of a tummy tuck procedure involves reapproximation (plication)  of the rectus muscles.  These muscles have spread apart during pregnancy and/or weight gain. Bringing them together again in the midline helps to “tighten” the abdominal wall as well as to narrow the waistline.
4. Residual adipose tissue may be confused for swelling. Again this is most easily diagnosed by physical examination. Additional liposuction surgery maybe necessary to improve the results of surgery.
Generally, it takes many months for swelling to resolve after tummy tuck surgery and it may take up to one year  (or greater)  a complete skin redraping  to occur.

I hope this helps.

Tummy tuck swelling

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The best way to minimize fluid accumulation and swelling following a tummy tuck procedure is to avoid excessive activity after surgery and by following your physician’s post surgical instructions. 


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.