Swelling Four Months After Abdominal Liposuction? (photo)

I am four months after an abdominal liposuction and ab etching. I was not overweight, just love handles. The love handle area is still swollen and numb with creasing. My surgeon is concerned, but he said there doesn't appear to be anything wrong and I just need to wait it out. My question is, if there is something wrong, is there anything I should be doing about it or do I just do as he says and wait it out? In the last two months the swelling has hardly reduced at all.

update: 5/10/12
A five month visit to my surgeon, and he was quite disturbed. He feels the hard swelling is definitely scar tissue, and he says it will never go away. He is trying to break it up using corticosteroid injections (internet says this will just soften the scar), and if that fails he says he would have to use a tummy tuck to ever look normal again. Opinions about the steroids or other thoughts/options? Should I trust him to do more surgery? Thanks!

Doctor Answers 10

Swelling 4 months after lipo is probably permanent

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We all get shorter as we age. I'll bet you are an inch or two shorter than you were when you graduated from high school. We shorten in the spine and that accordians the excess skin around the waist. Everyone gets some redundant skin around the waist eventually and that used to be called a "spare tire"  Superficial lipo can shrink the skin a little if done expertly. Other skin shrinking devices like laser and RF are a waste of money for this. Don't go there. It would have helped if you had worn a strap around your waist for the first 3 months. It's too late now.  Dr Foster

Sacramento Plastic Surgeon

The issue may be skin laxity

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All patients get swelling after liposuction.  My take is that most of the swelling subsides within the first 4-6 weeks after surgery.  Some plastic surgeons recommend compression garments to speed up the process and to prevent fluid collections (seromas).  After the swelling subsides, some patients are left with loose skin.  A small number of these patients will improve as the skin continues to contract during the first 6-9 months after surgery.  Some patients will need to undergo a skin excision procedure in order to remedy the problem.  The downside of a skin excision procedure can be the scar.  Unfortunately, we are yet to develop a sure fire way to tighten skin in these situations without excisional surgery.

Kelly Gallego, MD, FACS
Yuba City Plastic Surgeon

Swelling after liposuction

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Follow your surgeon's advice. Do not do anything for at least  2 months (6 months after surgery).

From the photo, the swelling is unusual but not unheard of. The tissues are probably firm. Numbness is normal with swelling. Massage may help.

It is distressing. You may need additional treatment but it is too early to do anything now. Good luck.


Swelling Four Months After Abdominal Liposuction?

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The posted photos demonstrate a rare complication of superficial liposuction with abdominal etching. This appears as a residual seroma turned scar like. The treatment for now is external ultrasound therapy and aggressive lymphatic massages for at least 4 months. When and if the tissue softens than consider a skin only abdominoplasty. Forget about the etching. Sorry for your complications

Seroma vs skin laxity

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 After four months you should not have too much swelling and pretty much be back to normal. In some locations patients develop a full collection known as Seroma,  this can be addressed in different manners. Another possibility is that you have some redundant skin, and this would also could be treated by possibly removing  some of the excess skin. After a abdominal edging is very important to follow the postoperative directions to prevent   complications  but even if you follow the directions you may still present some of the issues that we discussed above.  I would highly recommend you to get evaluated by your provider. 

Best, Dr. RG

Post Liposuction Pain/ Swelling / Soreness -- Start Venus Legacy, Vanquish, Exilis Ultra, Massage, Cellutone/Z Wave

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This will require surgery , tummy tuck , to fix .  It needs precise skin removal, scar improvement, and liposuction to complete the etching.  This wasn't done properly to begin with.  I suggest you see a hi definition body sculpting expert.  Best, Dr. Emer.

Jason Emer, MD
Los Angeles Dermatologic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 204 reviews

Swelling and scarring after liposuction

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Hi and thanks for the question.

I would follow your surgeons advice. Corticosteroid injections are a reasonable treatment option. Manual massage to the scarred areas may help as well. I would give it more time, however. You are still early in the surgical healing period.

Best wishes,

Dr. Vallecillos 

Glenn Vallecillos, MD, FACS
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Swelling after liposuction

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Some swelling can be permanent and I believe yours may be. It looks like you had etching to mimic good abs and you may have had Vaser or Laser.  Some of these procedures can lead to even longer periods of swelling than traditional liposuction so it is worth waiting as long as possible before any revision is considered. I think you may indeed need a tummy tuck type procedure, but a long scar is the trade off. I am always very conservative with any steroid injections as they thin tissues and can compromise healing at a later time. Get at least 2 opinions and it may be worth it to travel outside your area to the most qualified person available. Best of luck.

Francisco Canales, MD
Santa Rosa Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 35 reviews

Waiting is hard to do but the best course of action

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While it is understandable for you and your surgeon to remain vigilant, waiting for at least another two months is the best course of action.

Kris M. Reddy, MD, FACS
West Palm Beach Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 55 reviews

Swelling in lower abdomen

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It might be swelling, it might be fluid.  Hard to say without an exam.  If swelling should improve with time. Is it loose skin?  Perhaps.  Need an exam. Good luck,.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 30 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.