Tummy Extended After 4 Weeks Post-op, What Could Be Causing This?

Hi, I had FTT 5 weeks ago. I was so happy with the result until end of week 4. Last week, my belly started to bloat and now I look like 4 months pregnant. My tummy is not as flat as the first 4 weeks. It looks less big early in the morning but its the biggest by night. My PS said it is my colon, but I can't understnd why the muscle tightening doesn't hold it in? If it is my colon why it didn't happen the first 4 weeks? It is not fat becuase there is not much under the skin.

Doctor Answers 6

Bloating and Distension Normal After Abdominoplasty

It is not unusual for some patients to have some daily distension of the abdomen or bloating for a month or two after surgery.  As the pain goes away, you become more active, and the increased activity can lead to more edema build up in the tissues, leading to that distended appearance later in the day.  I would be suprised if there was something wrong with your repair internaly, but without examining you, it would be hard to know.  One of the great myths out there is that you can tighten someone so much internally that they will always be tight, no matter what.  That is simply not the case.  You can only tighten so much anatomically.  After that, if you have weakness of the abdominal wall, you will still have some laxity afterwards.  You may need to work on your core muscles when you are cleared to return to working out.  I hope this helps.

Barrington Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 73 reviews

Swelling 4 weeks after Tummy Tuck surgery

You should continue close follow up with your plastic surgeon.  Sometimes there is fluid buildup (seroma) that may cause this problem.  Otherwise, i have seen swelling in the subcutaneous tissue which will cause this effect between 4-8 weeks post op tummy tuck surgery.  As you described, it gets worse later in the day or after activity.  Generally, if this subcutaneous tissue swelling is the cause, it resolves by 2 months post operatively.

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,485 reviews

You probably would benefit from more tightening of the abd. wall.

You probably have some persistent laxity of your muscle wall.  You are correct.  This is not usually because of fat -  there is typically little subcutaneous fat after a tummy tuck.  The fact that it swells during the day suggests that it is due to gas in your intestines pushing forward. 

Bottom line, you may benefit from a secondary procedure to further tighten the abdominal wall (unless you have gained weight since surgery, but this is unlikely).  I had a patient several years ago in a similar situation.  I reoperated to further tighten the wall.  It does not mean your surgeon did anything wrong.  There is a lot of pressure on this repair and it may become stretched out.  Be sure you are not constipated after your secondary muscle repair so as to avoid any excessive pressure on the repair.  Your surgeon may offer you a price break for this touchup procedure.  But it is a decision to reach only after visiting your surgeon and discussing it with him or her.

Eric Swanson, MD
Kansas City Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 56 reviews

Tummy tuck swelling

I see this sometimes when my patients are constipated which can happen after being on pain medications for some time after surgery.  Your surgeon should be able to examine you and tell you if that's the case depending on your history.  There is a small possibility that your diastasis repair "snapped" and needs to be revised.  Talk to your surgeon about activity levels and whether or not you felt a "pop" or new pain in the abdomen.  Last, you could have developed a fluid collection or seroma- your surgeon will be able to tell by examining you.  Good luck!

Tiffany McCormack, MD
Reno Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 40 reviews

Consider asking another surgeon

The most important thing you can do is discuss your concerns fully and frankly with your surgeon.  If you are not comfortable with the answer you get, tell that to your surgeon as well.  On occasion, I have found it helpful when a patient was skeptical or uncertain or anxious after surgery to have them see another surgeon to get another opinion.

If you are in that position, ask your surgeon.  Most of us would be happy to give our patients the names of some other surgeons in the area they could talk with.

James Nachbar, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 22 reviews

Please send pixtures

You may have seroma,disruption of the sutures for the muscle repair or retained fatty tissue. Please send pictures.

Kamran Khoobehi, MD
New Orleans Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 122 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.