One Side of Tummy is More Swollen than the Other After Tummy Tuck? (photo)

I am 3 months post tummy tuck and one side (the left side) of tummy above incision is more swollen then the other. It isnt awful but it noticeable. Is this swelling that will go down or will i need lipo to correct this? Is it normal to still have this at 3 months post op?

Doctor Answers 6

Swelling after tummy tuck

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It is common for one side to swell more than the other; typically, patients are not symmetrical to begin with and your doctor may have done more work on one side than on the other. Residual swelling can remain for several more months so I would give it time to resolve. You could certainly have a little liposuction at a later date. Best of luck.

Swelling After A Tummy Tuck

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In some cases, this may be normal post operative swelling that will resolve with time.  However, there is the possibility that you may have some fluid accumulation on that side of your abdomen, which would need to be drained in the office to allow the skin to retract and restore a flat contour as you heal.  I recommend returning to your plastic surgeon for a follow-up examination to best assess the situation. 

Swelling after Tummy Tuck?

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Thank you for the question.
As always, it is best to be seen in person ( by your plastic surgeon) for precise diagnosis and treatment.
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.
I hope this helps.

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Potential reasons for asymmetry after tummy tuck

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There are a handful of reasons to have asymmetric fullness after a tummy tuck.  Including:

-different amounts of fat

-asymmetric muscle tightening

-seroma or hematoma


-asymmetric undermining

It is hard to know which of the above is causing your asymmetry without an examination but I suspect it is fourth or fifth of the above options.  Liposuction can release some of the attachments if uneven undermining is the cause.  At three months you would best be served by waiting longer and seeing of you continue to see improvements or if it is stable.

All the best,

Dr Remus Repta

Remus Repta, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 170 reviews

Asymmetry after tummy tuck.

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Thank you for your question. 

It's hard to give you an exact answer without examining you and knowing how your surgeon performed your tummy tuck.  In general tummy tuck does not affect the contour of hips or the flanks in particular unless your plastic surgeon has performed liposuction in these areas as part of the tummy tuck.

If liposuction has been performed in these areas and there's residual fatty fulness it may be something that can be easily treated with a bit of touch up liposuction.  It's a little bit early to go back in for touch up liposuction but it's something you may wish to discuss with your plastic surgeon.

While it's hard to tell from your photograph it's also possible that you have some natural asymmetry or spinal curvature. Liposuction and tummy tuck won't correct a spinal curvature.  Sometimes these things become more noticeable afte tummy tuck.  Looking at your pre operative pictures may help give some insight into this possibility.

I would strongly suggest to speak with your plastic surgeon and share your concerns.  He or she will certainly do his best to help.


Best wishes.



Why Is My Abdomen Uneven After Tummy Tuck

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Thank you for providing us with your picture after tummy tuck.  Kudos to you for choosing an excellent plastic surgeon.  You have a great looking belly button (the redness will resolve) and the tummy tuck scar is completely hidden under your bikini bottom. 


The asymmetry you are referring to more than likely was present prior to surgery.  Some of it will resolve with time, but post operative liposuction which I recommend to all my tummy tuck patients can be done three months after abdominoplasty. 

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.