What Can You Do to Relieve Tummy Tuck Swelling?

I'm 1 week post op and I'm starting to swell. I knew it would happen and I know it will go away, but damn it's uncomfortable. Anything you can take? Anything you can eat that helps? A wizard I can contact?

Doctor Answers 8

Swelling has a mind of it's own!

One of the major side affects of the tummy tuck is swelling.  I tell my patients to expect this.  It's a nuisance, but it's predictable and normal.  Usually you will not be able to wear the pants or jeans that you can pre-operatively until about a month after surgery.  Another month later they will start to get loose.  Starting around two to three months, you will find that you stomach looks great first thing in the morning, but by the end of the day the lower abdomen is swollen.  And this can take up to six months to completely resolve.

Certain things can help to a degree, like avoiding salt and wearing a binder most of the time.  But this will not prevent swelling.  Ceratinly diuretics are to be avoided (unless you normally take them to manage high blood pressure).  But in terms of compression, we have found Spanx® to be of great help starting about two to three weeks after surgery.

Swelling is part of the body's response to injury, and surgery is a controlled injury.  It's normal, and it's how we heal.  So, as aggravating as it is, you will need to accept it and understand that it will eventually go away.  But there isn't much we can do to speed the process up.

All the best,

David B.

Knoxville Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 108 reviews

Swelling after tummy tuck

Try the following to reduce swelling after your tummy tuck: 1. Avoid salt 2. Wear your girdle regularly 24/7 3. Avoid clothing that pinches or leaves a mark above the swelling 4. Avoid sitting for long periods of time. Take frequent walking breaks at work. 5. Avoid fatty or gassy foods. Use mild stool softener 6. Massage when you get the go ahead from your doc 7. Try arnica - a lot of people swear by it

Ronald Schuster, MD
Baltimore Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 78 reviews

Swelling after Tummy tuck Surgery

Sorry, no wizard here.  Some surgeons use Arnica to decrease swelling / bruising - I am not aware of any good science that it makes things significantly better. Make sure the "uncomfortable" nature of your situation is not related to constipation (use high fiber foods, fluids, prune juice, etc).  Also make sure that you don't have a fluid collection below the skin flaps (seroma). This may present as a fluid wave sensation.   Keep close follow up with your surgeon for examination and reassurance.

Best wishes

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,499 reviews

Swelling one week after tummy tuck

The swelling at one week after tummy tuck surgery is often at its maximum 3 to 10 days after surgery.

Please check with your surgeon to make sure that you don't have an abnormal fluid collection (haematoma or seroma) or infection.

Otherwise try to rest  because excessive movement can cause more swelling. Make sure that you are wearing your compression garment 24 hours per day and keep your bowls regular.

Isolde Hertess, MD
Gold Coast Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

Swelling post Tummy Tuck

It is common to have swelling post tummy tuck. Each surgeon has his or her own guidelines regarding post operative care. Consult with your surgeon as he or she knows the scope of the surgery and the specifics about you.

Kris M. Reddy, MD, FACS
West Palm Beach Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

Post-op swelling

Some swelling is normal, but make sure you are seeing your surgeon every couple of days.  It is possible that your drains are not working, and if you had no drains placed like some surgeons do, you may have a seroma, a fluid collection or a hematoma, a blood collection.  Finally, have you had a proper bowel movement? Patients do often get constipated after surgery and this can lead to dramatic bloating.

Vishnu Rumalla, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 201 reviews

1 week post op swelling after tummy tuck

it is normal to have swelling at this time. make sure your surgeon checks you however, as sometimes fluid builds up after the drains are removed, and needs to be drained. Usually it is just swelling in the tissues which will go down. keep a compression garment on if your surgeon approves it. sometimes it also can be bloating secondary to the pain medicine which makes the intestines not work correctly.

do not do too much activity as that can also lead to fluid buildup. hang in there.

Rick Rosen, MD
Norwalk Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 22 reviews

Swelling after tummy tuck

This is perfectly normal at this stage.  Make sure you wear your compression garment and keep your bowels moving because pain meds can lead to constipation.  I find it also helps if you maintain a low salt diet and drink a lot of water.  Your surgeon can rule out anything abnormal such as a fluid collection or bleeding.  It does get better! 

Tiffany McCormack, MD
Reno Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 40 reviews

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.