Is it Normal to Still be Swollen 4 Months Post-Op Tummy Tuck w/o Lipo?

I had an endoscopic tummy tuck w/o lipo or skin removal in mid-June 2011. I am petite at 95 Ibs. and 5'3. When I try to exercise, vacuum, or for no reason, I experience swelling. I can tell it's swelling b/c it is exactly over the area that was worked on. Outside of this area stays normal. I have read that lipo prolongs swelling but since I didn't have that, why am I still swollen? When will this get better? Surgeon tells me 6 mos. but I am getting worried because progress has seemingly stopped.

Doctor Answers 9

Swelling after tummy tuck

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It is not unusual to have swelling still present even several months after a tummy tuck.  The swelling is often variable: changing from day to day.  Most patients experience swelling later in the afternoon after being up on their feet all day.  The swelling is often much less obvious early in the morning.

One must also be sure that the swelling is not from a fluid collection called a seroma.  Serous fluid can sometimes collect in the space created during the operation.  This type of fluid collection can sometimes be uncomfortable and does not change in appearance from day-to-day.   You should follow-up with your surgeon to have him/her evaluate the swelling and be sure that it is part of the normal healing process.

Charlotte Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

Is it Normal to Still be Swollen 4 Months Post-Op Tummy Tuck w/o Lipo?

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Swelling can take several months to completely resolve, even 6-8 months.  If the swelling comes and goes, it will eventually resolve.  If the swelling is always there, it should also eventually resolve if it is swelling in the tissues or scar tissue thickening from the procedure.  However, if there is (or was after surgery, particularly after the drains were removed) the feeling of a fluid accumulation or a wave-like phenomenon (you push on one portion and the other portion waves up like on a waterbed), then you may had a seroma form after surgery, and it may have formed a seroma cavity that would need to be treated to completely resolve.  An ultrasound examination my help determine if you have an actual fuid collection.

Swelling after tummy tuck

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It may take longer than 6 months for edema to resolve.  Exercise and massage should help.  Donald R. Nunn MD  Atlanta Plastic Sureon.

Donald Nunn, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 51 reviews

Swelling after Tummy Tuck Surgery

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Thank you for your question.

Yes, it is quite normal to have swelling up to 6 months post op Tummy Tuck Surgery.. sometimes even up to one year (especially after exercising).   I would recommend that you keep in close communication with your surgeon and follow his/her instructions.

I hope this helps.


Thin Patients Show Fluid Easily

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Exercise will create swelling in the surgical area until the body as created new lymphatis to drain the fluid, usually 6 months. A petite person will show small amounts of swelling that might be concealed on a larger frame. Most likely you are not yet at the end point of your result.

Mary Lee Peters, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 117 reviews

Post tummy tuck swelling

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Even though we wish that the swelling would go away sooner, it can last for up to six months.  It is likely more noticeable on a person with a petite frame like yourself.  Even if no liposuction was performed during your operation and it was performed endoscopically, it was still surgery.  If after the six month point, the result still disturbs you, then definitely return to your plastic surgeon for a discussion.

Swelling 4 months after Tummy Tuck

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It is certainly possible to have swelling 4 months after a tummy tuck.  It is also possible to have a fluid collection, however, that may be amenable to easy removal in the office or surgically if necessary.  An ultrasound may help define if a fluid collection is present, if there is a question.  Continue to follow up with your plastic surgeon for further evaluation. 

Stephen Delia, MD
Boston Plastic Surgeon

Swelling after "endoscopic" tummy tuck.

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I have to assume that what you essentially had was a muscle repair through an endoscopic technique. With out any skin removal and no lipo, this is not exactly a tummy tuck but rather a diastasis correction. It is possible to swell along the midline where the undermining was performed to correct the diastasis. It can take upwards of 6 months for this to resolve, however it could also be related to a fluid collection or even a recurrence of the diastasis. Best advice is to see your plastic surgeon for an examination.

David Bogue, MD
Boca Raton Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Swelling can persist for quite a while

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I would give it some more time as it does sound as it is swelling related.  Swelling will continue to improve.  Certain healing events such as pseudobursa or seroma may need to be addressed.  Maintain your follow up schedule with your plastic surgeon as he/she can guide you through this process.

All the best,

Dr Repta

Remus Repta, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 173 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.