Swelling Flanks After Tummy Tuck and Liposuction

I had full Tummy Tuck with Muscle Repair and Liposuction 9 days ago. I still have my drains, and a lot of swelling in the flank area. Is this normal? Is there something that I can do for the swelling? It does go away, right?

Doctor Answers 10

Swelling after tummy Tuck

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Thanks for your question -
It is common to have abdominal swelling after abdominoplasty.

When thinking about abdominal contour here are things to consider:
Skin envelope
Abdominal fat (subcutaneous and intrabdominal)
Muscles tightness
Intrinsic Swelling
Fluid collections

Skin Envelope -
People complaining of "abdominal bulge" after tummy tuck typically do not have issues with too much skin - that points to issues underneath the skin.

Abdominal fat -
This can be an issue in people who may be a little bit over their ideal body weight at the time of abdominoplasty. Ways to fix this include the tried and true diet and exercise or liposuction. Be sure to allow enough time between tummy tuck and liposuction to minimize complications.

Muscle tightness -
Muscles plication (or tightening) is usually a part of abdominoplasty. Either failure of the sutures or some laxity can cause a bulge. If the change in your contour was sudden or if you felt a pop - think about the plication having ruptured.

Swelling -
This can be the most common cause of contour issues post-abdominoplasty. Patients typically have swelling for two reasons. First surgery causes trauma and the body's response to trauma is to bring additional fluid into the area that has been traumatized. In addition, abdominoplasty involves dividing lymphatic channels (very very small conduits that normally pull fluid out of tissue) - until these channels grow back the area will not be able to remove excess fluid.
It is usually the most dependent (lowest) part of the surgery that stays swollen the longest.
The majority of swelling usually resolves after the first 4-6 weeks but there may be residual swelling for up to 6 months.

Fluid collections -
Seromas (serous fluid collections) or hematomas (collections of old blood) can cause distortions of contour. Normally this will improve on its own but may require drainage.

I hope this helps.

Treatment of tummy tuck swelling in the Bronx

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You're still in the very early phase of  post operative healing . Be patient and you will start to see results. It has always been my practice to use compression garments and binders immediatly post op.BUT every surgeon has their own regimin to obtain  results.

Barry H. Dolich, MD (Retired)
Bronx Plastic Surgeon

Much too early to tell...

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Hi there-

It is very difficult to say, without an examination, whether the amount of swelling you are experiencing is the anticipated amount, or whether there is additional swelling, indicating a problem...

If you are concerned that you are swelling more than you expected, I would pay a visit to your surgeon, who is the only person with enough knowledge of your procedure to be able to give you an accurate answer.

Generally speaking, with the procedure you had performed, swelling at 9 days should be expected, and this swelling should be expected to persist for 6-8 weeks (although it is improving over that time).

Call your surgeon and stop in for an exam- I bet you'll find that everything is fine, but the only one who can tell you for sure is your surgeon.

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Nine days is too early to worry about the flanks

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If you are nine days after surgery, with drains in place, you are too early in the process to worry. In general, our Santa Rosa tummy tuck patients wear a light compression garment for 6 weeks after a combined tummy tuck/liposuction procedure. The final shape and results should be visible around 2 months after surgery.

Check with your doctor frequently and keep your activity level to what your doctor has recommended. More activity means more swelling. Best of luck.

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

Swelling after Tummy Tuck and Liposuction Expected

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Bruising and swelling are normal in the suctioned areas and usually increase slightly after the removal of any tape or foam. The bruising will decrease over 3-4 weeks, but may last as long as 6 weeks. The majority of the swelling will be gone within the first 3-4 weeks. However it may take 6-9 months to disappear completely. The compression garment helps reduce the swelling, and the longer it is worn, the more quickly the process will proceed.


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Swelling is quite normal for 9 days after surgery. I normally advise my patients to wear their drains (if used) for about 2 weeks after surgery, and to wear their compression garment 24/7 for 3 weeks then from 3 to 6 weeks,   during the day, but you can take it off at night. The garment will help reduce swelling. 

Swelling may take a few weeks to subside.

Swelling will improve with time

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Nine days following a tummy tuck with liposuction is still considered very early in the postoperative period. Swelling is a normal consequence of these procedures and will take several months to completely resolve.

I have my patients wear an abdominal binder for several weeks following surgery to help with support and compression of the abdomen and flanks. Once your drains are removed, you should start feeling better and will notice a significant improvement in your swelling by 6-8 weeks following surgery.

If you have any further questions, you should discuss these with your plastic surgeon.

Good luck and enjoy your results!

David A. Robinson, MD
Munster Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 46 reviews

Swelling will persist for a long time.

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This is absolutely normal.

9 days is VERY EARLY.

Swelling may easily last for 2 months before you notice any significant change.

Discuss your concerns with your surgeon. It is early in the post operative period and I am sure you will be in for multiple visits.

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 86 reviews

Very normal

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It's very normal to have swelling this soon after surgery. How soon your swelling will go down is variable from patient to patient. This depends upon your skin quality, your age, and the amount of liposuction you had performed on your flanks. Although every surgeon has his or her own preferred regimen for postoperative care, I personally like to place my patients into a compressive garment after the drains come out, as it fell that it helps speed the resolution of swelling. Your final results may not be evident for up to one year, so be patient. Good luck and best wishes.


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Swelling is expected.  By a month, most of the swelling will be gone, but a signigicant amount remains.  It may take a year or more for it to totall go away.  Follow your doctors instructions regarding binders, etc.



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.