Complications Later in Life After a Tummy Tuck?

I have read allot of horror stories online about women having acid reflux, gerd, shortness of breath, Ibs, and constant swelling after tummy tuck. Also many complain of upper abdominal bludge years later! Some say it's from abdominal compartment syndrome after tummy tuck but I also read it's because the surgeon removes subcutaneous fat and tightens the muscles leaving fat unable to return to subcutaneous regions and converts to visceral fat that puts pressure on vital organs! Is this common?

Doctor Answers 6

Tummy tuck complications

I have never had a patient with any of the problems you mention although I guess they could happen if the muscles are tightened too much. Such problems are unlikely. I have heard of those problems with the Lapband procedure however.

San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 27 reviews

Complications Later in Life After a Tummy Tuck?

      Acid reflux and GERD(gastroesophageal reflux disease) represent the same entity.   If the plication is performed to return the rectus abdominis muscles back to anatomic norms, abdominal compartment syndrome and shortness of breath should not be a concern.  The upper abdominal bulge is not due to compartment syndrome but rather inadequate tightening of the upper abdomen, overzealous tightening of the lower abdomen, a combination of both, or extremely poor quality fascia that cannot maintain its strength. Swelling should resolve in 6 months to a year.  Abdominal compartment syndrome causes a variety of physiologic changes that must be addressed in emergent fashion, and it does not represent a chronic or long standing problem.  I could not offer any evidence of the last statement in the medical literature.   

            Find a plastic surgeon with ELITE credentials who performs hundreds of tummy tucks each year.  Then look at the plastic surgeon's website before and after photo galleries to get a sense of who can deliver the results.

Kenneth Hughes, MD Los Angeles, CA

Kenneth B. Hughes, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 492 reviews

Complications after Tummy Tuck San Diego

The most common problems after tummy tuck are aesthetic.  Recurrent bulging of the abdominal wall, dissatisfaction with one or several aspects of the result, and others related to weight gain and/or continued presence of perceived excess skin.  Scar size and placement and/or scar quality may mandate revision for improvement.  

Upper abdominal bulge years later usually happens when the procedure was performed by an OB-GYN or ENT-facial plastic surgeon or Dermatologist because the epigastrium is often excluded from the plication.  The other issues you mention are not related to the abdominoplasty/tummy tuck procedure, but may occur in patients who have had (or not had) tummy tuck.

Steve Laverson, MD
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 46 reviews

Complications Later in Life After a Tummy Tuck?

Most of these complaints are very rare following a tummy tuck. Generally these symptoms are sometimes present during the healing period. Recurrent laxity is always a possibility but having to redo this is rare as well. 

Kurtis Martin, MD
Cincinnati Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 72 reviews

Problems after abdominoplas

While the problems you mentioned are a remote possibility they are not listed within the common problems related to tummy tucks. Seromas, incisional problems and perhaps the less frequent but most feared is deep vein thrombosis. You need to discuss the risks and benefits with your plastic surgeon prior to any procedure and see what is best for you. Thank you for your question, and best to you. 

Complications Later in Life After a Tummy Tuck?

The last comment sounds particularly fanciful, but it is hard to disprove anything. The abdominal wall contains only a small portion of all the subcutaneous fat in the body, so this explanation seems most unlikely. The other complaints do occur, but are rather uncommon. There are risks to any procedure, that must be balanced against the benefits. 

If you look at the RealSelf "worth it ratings" you will see it is highest of all the single cosmetic procedures, and this includes a category for patients over 50.

All the best. 

Jourdan Gottlieb, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 45 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.