My abdomen stays swollen. What's causing this? (Photo)

I really have bad constipation would that be the reason I'm swollen like this I saw my plastic surgeon he said it was no fluid at my last check up but these are current photos and these are when I saw my surgeon a month ago

Doctor Answers 4

Swelling and tummy tuck

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It is very common to suffer from swelling after a tummy tuck. Swelling can take several months to truly resolve.  However, there can be more concerning causes for major swelling that should be ruled out, so don't hesitate to speak with your plastic surgeon if there are any concerns.

Fort Worth Plastic Surgeon

Swollen abdomen after tummy tuck

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Thank you for your question and the pictures. This swelling could have different etiologies, such as post operative edema, seroma, hematoma, dehiscence of the fascial sutures, etc. It is not possible to make the diagnosis without an in-person examination. Having said that, You are very early in the healing process at this point. Healing from surgery will take time. In the initial phase after surgery, within the first three months, there is a period of inflammation and scarring that must occur in order for you to heal. Over ensuing months these processes will subside and the inflammatory process gives way to scar softening and remodeling. It is during this time that you will start to see your results appear. I tell my patients that they will not see their final results for at least to 6 months.

I would recommend to continue close follow up with your plastic surgeon as they are in the best position to evaluate and treat you during your post operative recovery. This will allow you and your surgeon the chance to discuss your concerns and help allay any anxieties you may be experiencing.

I hope this helps. Best wishes.

My abdomen stays swollen. What's causing this?

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I'm sorry to hear about your concerns after tummy tuck surgery.  Your plastic surgeon will be your best resource for precise diagnosis and treatment.

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. 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.

Best wishes.

Swollen Tummy

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Hi and thank you for your question,
Swelling is certainly common following abdominoplasty, especially when combined with constipation. Usually by 6 weeks this has settled. 

If you and your surgeon are concerned regarding any fluid collection (seroma) then an ultrasound usually can determine one way or another what is going on. 

As you have said though, the most likely cause is constipation. I would suggest reducing any opiate pain killers you may be taking and discussing with your surgeon taking a light laxative to sort this out.

I hope this helps
All the best
Dr Sam Cunneen
Plastic and reconstructive surgeon
Perth, Western Australia

Sam Cunneen, MBBS, FRACS
Perth Plastic Surgeon

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.