Swelling over my Tummy Tuck Incision - Is This Normal?

My tummy tuck was 24 days ago, and i am worried that the ridge of swelling over my incision will not go down. It still looks like i have some overhang there. Apart from this, my results are still very good, and i am pleased.

Doctor Answers 22

Tummy Tuck swelling at 3 weeks - very normal

Edema actually takes months to resolve after an abdominoplasty, so yes, at 3 weeks it is very normal to have noticeable swelling.  An additional component that is visible at that time is the effects of the multiple layers of sutures used for closure.  Within the first 2 weeks of surgery, you might have noticed that the incision looked higher than the skin around it, or that there were visible "dents" near the incision at somewhat regular intervals.  These are caused by the deep dermal sutures, and they disappear as the tissue relaxes.  There typically is an additional layer of sutures on a deeper fascia layer that holds tension, and this creates another ridge (about 1-2" wide) along the incision.  As this layer relaxes, the visible transition from the lower abdominal skin to the upper skin also smooths out.  Normally it happens in the order of 1 to 3 months, so most patients don't notice it happening.  You look good at 3 weeks, so expect to continue to look better over the next several months.


Dallas Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 67 reviews

Tummy tuck Swelling?

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.

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,498 reviews

Swelling at 3 weeks

Be sure to take it easy as you are still only 3 weeks out from your tummy tuck. It often will take a few months to return to normal fluid control in that area.

Ricardo A. Meade, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 120 reviews

Swelling over tummy tuck incision

This is normal and expected. Give it  a few months to improve. Your surgeon most likely made sure it is not a fluid collection (serum)

Karol A. Gutowski, MD, FACS
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 68 reviews

Swelling Takes Time to Go Away!

Swelling (and numbness) of the lower abdomen, especially just above the incision line takes many months to improve.

You will see it change and continue to soften for a year to a year-and-a-half!

Paul C. Zwiebel, MD
Denver Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 41 reviews

Swelling after a tummy tuck

Yes it is quite normal to have swelling of the skin above the incision for quite some time after a tummy tuck.  Normally the excess fluid in the skin is channeled away via small vessels called lymphatics. These are cut and the flow of this fluid is altered after a tummy tuck.  It does usually get better with time.

Delio Ortegon, MD
San Antonio Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Postop tummy tuck swelling above incision

Your results appear quite normal for the time after surgery.

Often the area above the incision swells temporarily due to decreased drainage (while the incision heals).

You might want to talk to your surgeon about postoperative compression, the appropriate activity level, and creams and laser therapies you can use to maximize your healing after this type of surgery.

Brent Moelleken, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 178 reviews

Early tummy tuck result

Your result looks fine for 3 weeks out.  The swelling is called a "healing ridge" under the scar and it is normal and will soften up in 4 months.  The swelling above the scar is just edema in the tissue, also will go away nicely.

Richard P. Rand, MD, FACS
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 67 reviews

Post op tummy tuck swelling

Based on the photograph, you have a lot of residual swelling. You need to give it some time to go down. As for the scarring, you will be entering the inflammatory phase of scar healing soon and can expect the scar to become a bit more obvious until it settles down. Just be patient and reassess the results in a few months.

Robert L. Kraft, MD, FACS
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

Swelling after tummy tuck.

Swelling can last up to a year after surgery.  Be patient and take it easy until then.  24 days seems like a ling time post op but it really isn't even a month!

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 81 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.