Severe Swelling in abdomen post tummy tuck SX?

I had a tummy tuck with muscle repair on May 3rd 2016 and I am having more swelling and pain than ever. I have to wear my compression garment and my waist belt. I'm very worried because I look worse now than I ever have. Is this normal or should I be concerned. Please advise. Thank you so much.

Doctor Answers 5

Severe Swelling Post-Op

Most patients will be placed in an abdominal binder, which they will wear the first week. There is usually a fair amount of swelling and the binder should be opened several times a day so that there are no pressure points. After the first 7 to 10 days the patient is placed in an elastic garment for compression over the next six weeks.

Swelling and pain can persist for several months and will gradually improve and will look better at three months, six months, and even one year. Frequently the pubic area and the scrotal and penis area for men can become very swollen and discolored during the first two weeks due to gravity as this is the lowest area for swelling to accumulate.

Additionally, it may take several months for a tummy tuck patient’s scars to soften, for sensation to return, and for relaxing of the tight sensation in the abdomen. In the case of extensive surgery, abdominoplasty recovery can be uncomfortable and may take longer. Scars may stay red, become thick or widen. It can take 12-18 months for the scars to settle.

Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 94 reviews

Severe swelling after a tummy tuck

i'm sorry you're having this issue. It is very difficult to answer your question without seeing pictures or examining you. With that said, this is unusual for you to be having these issues four months after a tummy tuck. I recommend that you discuss your concerns with your surgeon. Good luck !!

Mehdi K. Mazaheri, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 20 reviews

Swelling months after tummy tuck

Thanks for your inquiry, but without pictures or an exam it is hard to advise. You are fairly far out from surgery and your symptoms should not be getting worse.  Please discuss with your surgeon, good luck.  

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Severe Swelling In Abdomen After Tummy Tuck

Nearly 5 months after a tummy tuck, most of the swelling should be resolved. At this point, it is still normal to have some residual swelling. Without before and after photos, is is impossible to give you a personalized assessment. For some patients, it is possible that removal of excess skin and fat from a tummy tuck exposed underlying bulging from intraabdominal fat. If this swelling you have is indeed a significant change from earlier in your recovery, you should see your plastic surgeon immediately.  I advise you to return your plastic surgeon for follow-up. 

Millicent Odunze-Geers, MD, MPH
Sacramento Physician
4.6 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

Given changes, best to follow up with your plastic surgeon…

I'm sorry to hear about the concerns you have after tummy tuck surgery.  As you likely know, your plastic surgeon will be your best resource for precise diagnosis and advice...

Generally speaking, 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.  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.


Best wishes. 

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.