Can Tummy Tuck Stitches Open Up Years Later?

I had a Tummy Tuck in 2002. My internal stitches still show up in X-rays. My question is, can the stitches pop open after so long and cause distention in my upper abdomen?

Doctor Answers 5

It's not the sutures

Sadly, no cosmetic surgery lasts forever and both time and gravity press on relentlessly. This means that even though the sutures are still present, your tissues have continued to age and lose their firmness. This causes a recurrence of the distension


It good to know that your physician used permanent suture to repair the diastasis. This is essential to preventing recurrence. However, the tissue around the repair can continue to weaken. And in some cases the tissues are just poor genetically so weakness will be a continuing problem. So it's not the suture it's the surrounding tissue.

Christopher L. Hess, MD
Fairfax Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

Repair would be secure, but your body may change

Mishelle 143

Those internal sutures are only thought to hold your internal tissue layers together while they heal strongly. That process happens over the first few months after surgery. Once the fibrous tissue layers heal together, they have more strength than the sutures did. So it shouldn't matter if those sutures "pop," loosen, come untied, etc.

As with most cosmetic plastic surgery, no matter what the surgeon achieves, your body continues changing over the years. If you have some concerns, go in for a consultation in-person. You'll get a complete evaluation and opinions about what you need.

Sutton Graham II, MD
Greenville Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

You are healed after 8 weeks

The muscle repair achieves its full strength of repair after 8 weeks of healing.  After that the stitching doesn't matter anymore because the scar tissues hold you together.   Your upper abdomen can become fuller because of aging, weight gain and stretching of the tissues.

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

Not likely

The more time that passes from your surgery the less likely a chance of the suture line disrupting. This is because initially the strong row of sutures is preventing relapse and as time goes on, your own scar tissue takes over to keep your abdomen flat. Of course if one has a significant increase in weight manifested in an enlarging abdomen, the muscles will again stretch out. This too would be the case with a subsequent pregnancy.

Lastly, the sutures show up on x ray because most surgeons use a permanent non- absorbable suture for the muscle wall repair. Don't worry.

Leslie H. Stevens, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 10 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.