Should I Be More Proactive About Swelling After Tummy Tuck?

I had a Tummy Tuck 12 weeks ago. My lower abdomen is unnaturally swollen. I had it aspirated 1 ½ weeks ago; only 18ccs were removed. I look like I need 1 pint drained. My PS says my body will eventually absorb the fluid. Are there negative outcomes possible by not taking a more proactive approach to this depressing situation?

I had tumescent/ultrasound liposuction at the same time. Overall, 2 ½ lb. of fat and ½ lb of skin were removed. Can anything be done to get rid of this NOW? I looked much better before the surgery. The shape of my abdomen is unnatural now. Thank you.

Doctor Answers 5

Persistent lower abdominal fluid collection after tummy tuck

Some patients have a greater tendency for flud accumulation resulting in seroma formation. This may require repeated aspiration after drain removal or even a second drain to be placed.

Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 81 reviews

Several possible explanations

The first step would be to investigate if you have fluid in your lower abdomen that needs to be drained. If the first aspiration was done without ultrasound guidance, there are two possibilities -- there was only a very small amount of fluid or only a portion of the fluid was aspirated. If a significant amount of fluid is present, it will not resorb and may become a chronic collection or become infected. I would consider your first step to be an ultrasound, followed by aspiration if any fluid is found.

If there is no fluid, the prominence is likely due to lymphedema of the lower abdominal flap. This can be compounded by the liposuction. This should improve with time as the lymphatic channels re-establish.

Other possibilities are that the muscle repair to the lower abdomen has failed, making the lower abdomen appear protuberant. If a lot of liposuction was performed to the upper abdomen, but none below the belly button, the amount of remaining fat in the lower abdomen can make it look prominent by comparison.

Good Luck!

Jeffrey Horowitz, MD
Bel Air Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 24 reviews

Time will help, but there are a few things you can do now to reduce tummy tuck swelling


Check with your plastic surgeon to see if there is any additional fluid that can be removed from the abdomen. If not, wearing a garment similar to the one that you probably wore after liposuction can be very helpful.

I usually place my patients into these garments after removing their drains, and I find that it prevents fluid collection and helps to speed the resolution of their swelling. Following liposuction, swelling can persist for 3, 6, or even 12 months.

Every patient is slightly different in terms of how quickly their swelling will resolve.

Best wishes.

Nina S. Naidu, MD, FACS
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

Post operative swelling after an abdominoplasty

At 12 weeks post abdominoplasty your swelling should be starting to subside.  It generally takes 3 to 6 months for it to completely resolve.  There is no specific time schedule for each individual.  Gentle massage and time is about all you can do at this point. If it seems unusual to you then it is time to consult with your plastic surgeon.

Jeffrey Zwiren, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

Swelling after a tummy tuck

Tummy tuck surgery is a very popular and effective way to contour the abdomen. After this procedure, patients should understand that there is a significant recovery process. In our practice, we commonly provide the patient with two separate compression garments to help them manage the swelling that they will experience. Patients should expect to have bruising and swelling that may last upwards to six months. In our experience, the compression garment is essential in managing the swelling and improving the patient's comfort. Be sure that you're working with a board-certified plastic surgeon with a great deal of experience in abdominoplasty and body contouring. At the middle of your concerns and ask if a special compression garment will help moderate your swelling.

To learn more about tummy tucks, see photos, and help you decide which one is best for you, please visit us at the link below:

Pat Pazmino, MD, FACS
Miami Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 101 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.