Is Tummy Tuck Swelling Long-term or Permanent?

I read this on a message board concerning swelling after a tummy tuck:

"...the lymph normally flows towards the groin, but after surgery it cannot go through the scar tissue and needs to be re-routed up to the nodes in the arm pits."

I would like to know, is this true? If so, is the condition permanent?

Doctor Answers 6

Swellin after a tummy tuck is usually transient.

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Any incision in the body disrupts normal anatomy. The healing process will ultimately produce reconnections of small arteries and veins, lymph channels, and some minor nerves. Immediately after a tummy tuck, the incision acts as a wall or barrier to drainage and most patients will notice fullness above the scar especially at the end of the day after they have been up and around. Over the first 2 to 6 months, the body will continue to "remodel" the area and produce reconnections of the draining mechanism.

There are some patients who may have persistent swelling and benefit from liposuction of the area to reduce the fullness, however I usually suggest waiting at least 6 months to allow the body to soften the area.

Oak Brook Plastic Surgeon

Is Tummy Tuck Swelling Long-term or Permanent?

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Significant swelling after exercise may occur after these operations;  this may persist  during the first year  postoperatively, sometimes longer, after tummy tuck surgery (it will dissipate once the lymphatic/venous drainage system has returned back to normal function). Sometimes, the use of a compressive garment may be helpful; hopefully, you will find one that you can utilize without  it being too much of a nuisance. Best wishes.

Long term

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The lymph channels will increase in size and allow more drainage so that the abdomen swelling really starts to come down after about 3 months, and continues for a year or more.

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Tummy tuck and swelling

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With a well done tummy tuck, the deep lymphatic vessels are preserved, and lymphatic obstruction does not lead to long swelling.  All the swelling should be gone one month after the surgery.

George J. Beraka, MD (retired)
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon

There is no permanent swelling.

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You will definitely have swelling after a tummy tuck that may last for months after surgery. It will go away through time as your body creates new channels in which to drain off any extra fluid. With time and patience, a tummy tuck is a procedure with an extremely high patient satisfaction.  

David Rankin, MD
Jupiter Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 168 reviews

Swelling after tummy tuck is temporary

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It is true that lymphatics have to be re routed after tummy tuck surgery.

However the body does have the ability to develope and regrow new lymph channels after surgery and some lymph flow is re-routed through channels that are present in the upper tummy tuck flap.

The swelling after tummy tuck surgery is temporary maximum 3-4 months, but most swelling gone in first 4-6 weeks.

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.