Tummy Tuck - Swelling After 4 Weeks

I had a tummy tuck 4 weeks ago and I am still swolen, but I am beginning to be concerned that my stomach will not look much less than it does with the swelling. My doctor told me he would not be able to make me super flat, but he would take as much as he could. In your experience, do you think swelling is still at the extreme after 4 weeks?

Doctor Answers 60

Swelling after a Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty)

After any surgical procedure, the peak of swelling is around the second or third day. Most people don't notice it, as they have other things to be concerned about. Now that you are a month out from surgery, you are feeling better, doing more activities, and are really starting to look at the result. The amount of swelling that is still around depends on how the surgery was performed (how extensive), and also yourself as an individual. I generally have my patients wear compression garments up to the fourth week after a tummy tuck, both to provide support and help "squeeze out" some of the swelling. A good way to prove to yourself that there is residual swelling is to look at your trunk a few minutes after taking off some clothing that has an elastic waist band. If you see more of an impression on the front side of your body (where the tummy tuck surgery was) than on your back, you can be certain that there is still "left over" swelling. This is a normal process, as the lymphatic system that drains fluid takes quite a long time (months) to fully heal and re-orient channels after such a major procedure.
I hope this helps!

Dallas Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 67 reviews

Swelling at 4 weeks is completely normal

At 4 weeks, you are very early in the recovery period.  The swelling typically is peaking at 6 weeks, and continue to be moderately pronounced until 2 months.  Some degree of swelling after tummy tuck can last up to a year. Of course you will be more swollen for the first several months. In fact, it is very important that you refrain from any vigorous physical activity for the first 2 months after tummy tuck. At that point you can start exercising, but if anything you do results in swelling, you should wait on that activity. As long as you stay behind this swelling curve, the surgery will continue to heal over the next 6 months. People who try to push through the swelling almost always end up with prolonged healing and can compromise their outcome. It is totally normal to be "larger" after tummy tuck for some time, and patients report they cannot fit into their old clothes. Then, as the swelling goes down, there are remarkable transformations. Just be patient, the swelling will resolve.

Gary Lawton, MD, FACS
San Antonio Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 136 reviews

Swelling of the abdomen after tummy tuck

Swelling in the abdominal area may persist for weeks to months after a tummy tuck.  However, you should have a very good idea of the approximate contour your abdomen will be almost immediately after surgery.  This means that with the tightening of your abdominal muscles and the removal of excess skin, you should see on day #1, the basic overall contour of your abdomen.   The swelling usually lasts longer on the flanks or love handle areas if you had liposuction in this location.

I recommend following up with your plastic surgeon and allowing more time for your overall healing.

Best wishes,

Dr. Bruno

William Bruno, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 377 reviews

Final tummy tuck results usually visible after at least 6 months

4 weeks post op surgery is too soon for the swelling to subside. Abdominoplasty is a very invasive surgery, swelling and bruising is very normal during this time. Usually, it takes about 6 months to a year before you see the final results of surgery. Do not be alarmed with the results at this time. Results will improve over time as your body heals.

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,499 reviews

Swelling after a tummy tuck can fluctuate for MONTHS

Yes, you're likely still swollen.  A good barometer is this:  do you feel the same at the end of a day as you do at the beginning of the day?  Do you have more swelling in the afternoons/evenings?  Do you notice that you are more swollen after salty meals (soups, fried foods, etc)?  If you answer yes to any of these questions, then you know you are still dealing with swelling from healing. 

Scars take 12-18 months to mature, and that includes the scar tissue created on the inside of the abdomen with a tummy tuck.  Give it time.

Carmen Kavali, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 43 reviews

Swelling After Tummy Tuck

Swelling after tummy tuck will be present for many months (8-12 months), especially in the lower tummy, just above the scar line.

Check in with your surgeon to be sure you don't have a fluid accumulation (serum or blood) which should be drained.

Otherwise, give your body the timeit needs to heal.

Paul C. Zwiebel, MD
Denver Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 41 reviews

Swelling 4 weeks after a tummy tuck is normal.

Actually, you will have swelling for many months after a tummy tuck.  The color of your incision is a good barometer.  As long as it is red or pink, there is swelling everywhere the surgeon went during the operation.  You will find that your scar will probably not turn white for many months.

Vincent N. Zubowicz, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 36 reviews

The Wound-Healing Process Following Abdominoplasty May Last Up To A Year

The wound healing process following abdominoplasty lasts for over a year. Most of the swelling resolves in six to eight weeks, but small amounts of swelling may persist for up to a year. The procedure inevitably interrupts the abdominal lymphatic drainage, and this takes time to re-establish itself. Patients can minimize swelling with compression garments, massage, and limitations on activity level. It’s important to remember that swelling is a normal part of wound healing, and should resolve with time.
Significant swelling four weeks following abdominoplasty should be evaluated by your plastic surgeon. In the vast majority of cases, this swelling is probably normal, but in a small percentage of patients, it might represent a problem. Seroma formation, low grade infection, and separation of the muscle closure might be possible explanations for this swelling. In some cases, a CT scan may be necessary to resolve this issue. If you have concerns about persistent swelling, make sure you discuss the issue with your plastic surgeon.

Richard J. Bruneteau, MD
Omaha Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 194 reviews

Swelling After Tummy Tuck

Although it can be frustrating, swelling after a tummy tuck can take several weeks, or sometimes even a few months, to subside fully. Try not to get discouraged, and just give your body time to heal. A tummy tuck is a major surgery. Wearing your compression garment will assist with lymphatic drainage and keep the healing tissues in place, making you more comfortable.

If you have concerns that your swelling is the result of built up fluid (seroma), then definitely contact your surgeon for an examination.

Frank Campanile, MD
Denver Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 55 reviews

Swelling after a Tummy Tuck

Thank you for your question.  To start, being that you are only 4 weeks post-op from surgery it is quite normal to expect that you are still swollen.  Swelling can take 6-12 months to resolve completely, and I have found that this dissipation of swelling can vary from patient to patient in how long it will take.  If your swelling is getting progressively worse, if you are seeing very little improvement, or if you are experiencing any discomfort from this, I would recommend following up with your board-certified operating plastic surgery to discuss your concerns and conduct a physical examination.  

Secondly, some patients who elect to undergo a tummy tuck procedure also have some intra-abdominal or visceral fat in addition to the extra skin and subcutaneous fat that is removed at the time of a tummy tuck.  This intra-abdominal or visceral fat (otherwise known as organ fat) can cause a patient to adopt a more barreled abdominal shape and can only be addressed with diet and exercise.  While repair of a diastasis recti at the time of a tummy tuck can help to flatten this barrel shape slightly, it is left largely unaffected by a tummy tuck procedure.  

Your results should improve over time as your body has had time to heal and recover.  I always recommend that any patient concerns are addressed with the patients operating surgeon at a follow up appointment so as to rule anything out.  Be patient and follow up with your doctor.

Stephen T. Greenberg, MD
Woodbury Plastic Surgeon
3.9 out of 5 stars 59 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.