Increased Swelling Above the Incision Normal After Tummy Tuck?

Today, I woke up with increased swelling 2-3 inches above my incision from Tummy Tuck. I feel more uncomfortable and have increased "tightness". It doesn't feel soft like fluid accumulation and it doesn't look infected. Today is a holiday so I can't really call the office to have them take a look at it. I'm feeling worried and just wondered, is this normal?

Doctor Answers 8

The incision acts as a wall or dam

Intermittent swelling above the incision after a tummy tuck may last for several months. You will notice that in the morning, after waking, your abdomen looks flatter. As the day goes on, the body circulates fluid and it builds up just above the incision because that is the lowest part of the operated area (much like a gutter). The incision acts as a wall or dam because the lymphatic drainage has yet to reconnect across it and allow drainage downward. You will continue to improve and soften until you don't even notice any fullness over several months.

Oak Brook Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

Completely normal

For several months after an abdominoplasty there is a tendency for swelling right above the incision. This is because the normal lymphatic circulation has been disrupted and fluid accumulates in the tissues. Over time the connections reform and the swelling should resolve. I tell my patients to expect about 4 months for this to happen.

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

Sounds like swelling

It is common to have swelling in this area after this type of procedure. the incision interupts the small veins in the area which drain fluid within the skin. It takes weeks to months for these to restore themselves so. In this period of time, compression or massage helps to move this swelling out. Fluid pressure can also be uncomfortable. This is normal as well.

Barry E. DiBernardo, MD
Montclair Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 50 reviews

Swelling above the incision may be perfectly normal

Following an Abdominoplasty swelling just above the incision may be perfectly normal.  Initially, it may be the result of a collection of fluid call a "seroma".  Once this is ruled out then it is probably normal.  Swelling above the incision may last for 2-3 months so don't be alarmed.

Todd B. Koch, MD
Buffalo Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 35 reviews

See your doctor to rule out hematoma or seroma after tummy tuck

Most commonly an acute swelling above the incision soon after tummy tuck is a seroma or hematoma which should be evacuated.

Longer term, after 6 -8 weeks, swelling above the incision can be caused by scar contraction beneath the skin.

In either event, see your doctor. Both of these situations can be remedied.

Swelling not unusual, however, you should call your surgeon

While swelling at this stage is not unusual, if you are concerned, you should contact your surgeon regardless of the day of the week. Your surgeon would rather hear about a potential problem sooner rather than later anyway. Good luck.

Parham Ganchi, PhD, MD
Wayne Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 154 reviews

You may have fluid accumulation or it may be normal swelling


This may be the normal swelling that occurs after a tummy tuck, or it may represent fluid accumulation beneath the skin and fat. If you noticed an increase and you are just 2 weeks out from surgery, I would recommend calling your surgeon's office to see if you can go in for an evaluation. If it is fluid, this can be easily and painlessly drained in the office for you, and you'll notice an immediate difference. If there is no fluid, you will at least experience some reassurance from having the area evaluated. I usually put patients into a compression garment for several weeks to help with the swelling and decrease the risk of accumulating fluid, but you should discuss this with your surgeon as we all have our preferences. Good luck!

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

Increasing swelling after tummy tuck is not normal.

Hi.  This sounds worrisome and you should call your surgeon right away.  Swelling normally decreases with time after an abdominoplasty.

In Manhattan, we would probably do a sonogram to see if you have a hematoma or seroma that needs to be drained.

George J. Beraka, MD (retired)
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 9 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.