Drainless TT without Lipo 6 1/2 weeks ago, why do I look worse than pre-surgery? (photos)

I had a drainless TT without lipo on sept 30. I am 6 1/2 weeks post op. I feel that my pre surgery pics are much better than the post surgery. I wear compression garment and I am very active with my kids. I eat a healthy diet. Could this be my final results??? PS says he cannot tell if it's swelling or not because we live in different states. Shouldn't most swelling be gone by now? I know I read it takes 3 months, but for the last four weeks I've been like this with no significant improvement:(

Doctor Answers 4

Drainless tummy tuck; recovery

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Drainless tummy tuck; recovery

You do look very swollen..  Seroma is still a consideration.. This can occur with or without drains

Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 116 reviews

Drainless tummy tuck

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Tummy tuck surgery removes the loose skin and excess fat from the abdominal wall. Maneuvers to minimize post operative fluid drainage include but are not limited to minimizing cautery, use of quilting sutures and preservation of the scarpa fascia level which has abundant lymphatic drainage to the groin. 

Concomitant liposuction can be safely combined with tummy tuck to help thin the abdominoplasty flaps and contour the waist line. All surgery has a period of post operative swelling. Continued abdominal binder treatment and frequent follow up with plastic surgeon are essential to final results.

Post op tummy tuck

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It is difficult to tell what is going on from the photos alone. It might be worth it to make a trip to see your plastic surgeon or see if he can refer you to someone he knows closer to you. It is certainly possible that you have a fluid collection there but with a large collection most people can tell you that it feels like "waves of water under my skin." Your PCP can often send you for an ultrasound evaluation to see if there is fluid in there and if there is they can either drain it or place a draining tube. 


Surjit S. Rai, MD

Dallas Plastic Surgeon 

Surjit S. Rai, MD
Dallas Physician
5.0 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

Not a fan of drainless tummy tucks

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A drain is a simple thing to use and in my opinion helps to speed the healing process from a TT because it eliminates the fluid your body weeps in response to the injury of surgery. It is usually removed between 7-10 days when the output is low enough and rarely ever after are there fluid problems (seroma). I really don't understand all the push to go drainless. It is like trying to close incisions without sutures, it can be done but is it better?

It is probably the case that you have a large amount of undrained fluid in the abdomen accounting for the increased girth since preop. Not much else could be causing this. It is unfortunate that your surgeon isn't nearby to care for you. I would suggest that you get a doctor to order an ultrasound of your abdomen to look for fluid and have the radiologist performing that study be potentially ready to drain it. 

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.