Upper Belly Bulge After Tummy Tuck

Two years after my Tummy Tuck, my upper belly is still bulging. I do crunches and weights and it still pops out past my lower belly. Why is it still bulging? Is this subcutaneous fat?

Doctor Answers 9

Upper tummy bulge despite tummy tuck

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

The most likely reason for your persistent upper abdominal bulge is residual laxity (looseness) of the paired midline muscles of the upper abdomen. If the initial plication (muscle tightening) of the upper abdomen was disrupted, not tight, or not performed, the intra-abdominal contents will still push the upper abomen outward. In fact, if the lower abdominal plication is still intact, the upper bulge may be worse than it was preoperatively, as it may be the only place that the intra-abdominal contents can push out. Other possibilities for causing the bulge are residual fat of the upper abomen or a hernia, but these are less likely.

Your best option is to be evaluated by a board-certified plastic surgeon. If the cause of the bulge is residual laxity of the abdominal wall muscles, the only effective treatment is repeat abdominal wall plication. Unfortunately, no amount of abdominal wall exercises will treat this condition alone.

Best of luck!

Persistent upper abdomen bulge and fullness after tummy tuck

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

In some instances upper abdominal fullness is due to persistent fat which can be treated with liposuction and in other instances it is persistently loose skin that may benefit from a reverse abdominoplasty. Discuss your concerns with your surgeon.

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

Persistent upper abdominal buldge after tummy tuck

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

There are several reasons why you may experience upper abdominal bulging after a tummy tuck. The most common reason is that there is residual swelling that can last for many months (but this is unlikely in your case being that you are 2 years post op). Also common is if your surgeon did not tighten the muscles as high as possible - this may lead to some laxity of the upper abdomen. Additionally, if the muscle was repaired all the way up, but was made tighter on the lower part, then there could be some bulging of the upper abdomen (think of it you squeezed a balloon and the top part bulged out). Also possible, but more rare is that there was disruption of the internal sutures.

Your plastic surgeon - or another one - should be able to tell you what the most likely cause is for your complaint. There are options for fixing all of them, some simple, and some not so simple.

Bulge after a tummy tuck

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Tummy tucks are a popular and very effective way to contour the abdomen and tighten the waist. During this surgery, surgeons use suture techniques to repair the muscles and create a tighter waist. If you continue to have a bulge in your upper abdomen two years after your surgery, it is possible that some of the sutures may have loosened and you currently are witnessing the bulge from your muscles. Your best bet is to be evaluated by a board-certified plastic surgeon who has great deal of experience with abdominoplasty and revision tummy tucks. They will be able to assess your concerns and examine you to determine if the bulge is from the muscle layer. If so, they may recommend that you receive a small revision of abdominoplasty where the muscle is assessed and repaired with further suture techniques.

To learn more about tummy tucks, see photos, and help you decide which one is best for you, please visit us at the link below:

Several reasons for upper belly bulge after Tummy Tuck

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Continued bulging of the upper tummy after tummy tuck may be due to:

1. The covering of the muscles(fascia) was never repaired in that location

2. There is excess fat and/or skin in the upper tummy

3. The lower ribs flair out and will not allow the upper tummy to be pulled in

4. There is a hernia

The correction depends upon the cause.

John P. Stratis, MD
Harrisburg Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 37 reviews

You would benefit from a physical exam, and possible further studies...

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}
An upper abdominal bulge following abdominoplasty can occur for a variety of reasons. In someone who is two years post-op, swelling would be unlikely. A large number of structural defects need to be considered as possible causes for this problem.
These include abdominal wall hernias, separation of the upper abdominal wall muscle repair, excess subcutaneous fat, excess intra-abdominal fat, fat necrosis, over tightening of the lower abdominal muscles and chronic seroma formation.
Unfortunately, it’s not possible to determine the cause of your upper abdominal bulge without a physical examination. In some cases, additional studies may be necessary to determine the exact cause of this problem. This may require a CT scan or possibly ultrasound studies.
Under these circumstances it’s appropriate to consult your plastic surgeon. Your surgeon can hopefully determine the cause and address the problem.

See your surgeon

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}
Please see your surgeon about your concern. It could be one of several problems, such as excess fat that was not removed or muscle separation which was not corrected during your surgery. Either way, your surgeon should be able to make a better assessment. Best of luck.

Upper Belly Bulge After Tummy Tuck

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Thank you for your question. Have your abdomen evaluated by your surgeon. There maybe e some swelling in the area, or a collection of fluid. Have an evaluation and determine the root of the problem.  If it is a fluid collection, this can be removed with a needle, and with compression, may remain away. I hope this helps.

Vivek Bansal, MD
Danville Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Upper abdominal bulge after tummy tuck

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

It is tough to say why it is bulging without examining you. This could be residual fatty tissue that may be treated with liposuction. It could be a seroma or fluid collection. It could be wekaness of the upper musculature that may need to be tightened some more. These are the more common things.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 30 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.