3 weeks post op, belly button infected? Pelvic area really hard, seroma? (Photos)

My bellybutton has yellow creamy stuff no smell yet. My doc says it's normal. It doesn't look so to me. And the hardness on my lower pelvic area.

Doctor Answers 8

3 Weeks Post TT - Do I Have An Infection & A Seroma?

Wound healing around belly buttons are often fraught with minor problems.  From the pictures you provided, it would be my opinion that the redness is not actual infection but a combination of wound healing and infestation of normal skin bacteria.  The yellow creamy stuff you refer to is often a combination of degenerating skin and fat cells.

With reference to the hardness in the lower pelvic area, this is very common at three weeks and is usually due to fluid buildup within the tissue itself, whereas a seroma is free fluid in a pocket surrounded by a fluid producing wall. The difference between normal post surgical swelling and a seroma is best determined by a Board Certified plastic surgeon.  I recommend you consult your personal plastic surgeon to differentiate whether your induration (hardness) is part of the normal process or is a situation that needs greater attention.

Scar Healing and Potential Infection

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.

These can be improved with topical treatments such as BioCorneum, Scar Guard, Scar Fade and Mederma. Redness can be improved with laser treatments and the scars can be kept narrow with products such as Embrace.  On occasion, keloids or hypertrophic scars can develop and will need treatment including Kenalog, 5FU and laser.

If you find that you are experiencing an infection it would be best to visit your surgeon to have the area examined for the infection. If an infection is starting it would be best to visit your surgeon in case antibiotics or other treatments are needed. Good luck.

Jed H. Horowitz, MD, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 109 reviews

Mommy make-over - worried about belly button and lower abdominal hardness

Thank you for asking about your mommy make-over recovery.

  • Your belly button looks as though it may have inflammation or even early infection around the sutures.
  • This should go away completely as soon as the sutures are removed -
  • It is time to remove them.
  • The photo isn't enough to comment on the lower abdominal hardness.
  • It could be normal swelling - if you think not, ask your surgeon to order an ultrasound to be sure there is o seroma.

Always see a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon. Best wishes  - Elizabeth Morgan MD PHD FACS

Elizabeth Morgan, MD, PhD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 43 reviews

Belly button issues

Based solely on the images, I would tend to not think your belly button is infected. Obviously, this assessment is best made by an in person exam by your operating surgeon. Sometimes a patient can have mild separation of the skin edges in a belly button and the body will need to fill those areas in. These is initially done with kind of a protein "goop" that can resemble pus but is not really a sign of an infection. If the area was infected, I would expect to see more redness and tenderness in the surrounding skin, rather than just the protein discharge between the edges that are trying to heal. If you were my patient and I came to the same conclusion after an exam, I would encourage you to wash the belly button with soap and water daily and moisturize it with a bland moisturizer like Vaseline or Aquaphor until it heals in.

Regarding the lower firmness, that is much harder to draw any conclusions from based on your picture. Sometimes, patients can have firm spots near the incision from the dissolveable sutures, as well as fluid collections and infections. Other times, some of the fat may inside may get stressed too much and those cells can die, creating a firm spot of scar tissue known as fat necrosis. I would encourage close follow-up and re-evaluation of this area by your surgeon if it continues to concern you.

Greg Bancroft, MD, PhD
Texas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 43 reviews

3 weeks post op, belly button infected? Pelvic area really hard, seroma?

Thank you for your pictures and questions. Sorry to hear you are having problems after your surgery. I would say that I am not sure that your belly button is infected, but it does appear that it has some lack of blood flow and thus some lack of appropriate healing. This problem may get worse before it gets better. The hardness that you are feeling could be some fat necrosis or some post-op fluid (seroma). You need to follow closely with your plastic surgeon and follow his or her recommendations on how to care for your surgical sites.

Hope this helps!

Dallas Buchanan, MD
Spokane Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Belly button redness

Hi there, it does appear that your belly button has a small wound from your photos. A small separation can occur during the healing process that will produce some drainage and redness. I would continue to follow up with your surgeon and follow their recommendations for best healing this wound. As far as a seroma that is difficult to tell from a photo and would be best determined by your surgeon in person. If present these can usually be drained in their office for you. 

Jennifer Geoghegan, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

Wound issues after TT

Thank you for your question. Although those pictures are very helpful, they don't substitute a need for examination to see what is going on.  Follow your surgeon recommendations. In regards to the bellybutton, sometimes local wound care is needed after a tummy tuck. In regards to the "hard area" you are referring to, that normally resolves with time if it's just inflammation and the normal healing process. Be patient and voice all your concerns with your surgeon. Good luck. 

Mehdi K. Mazaheri, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 32 reviews

3 weeks PostOp belly button infected?

Thank you for sharing your question and photographs.  Though nothing replaces an in-person examination, it appears that your belly button is having wound healing difficulties and has separated along portions of it's incision.  This has resulted in some redness that should be monitored by your surgeon to ensure its resolution. Voice your concerns to your physician as they can provide you with reassurance and wound care instructions.  Hope this helps.

Nelson Castillo, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 65 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.