Normal to Have Stomach Swelling After Tummy Tuck Surgery?

I had a tummy tuck 2 weeks ago and I want to know will my upper stomach go down.  I am very flat down by my pubic region.  I am having trouble keeping underwear and shorts on because I am so flat in the pubic area and very full above that. Is this normal swelling or am I a freak. Thanks Paula

Doctor Answers 13

Upper abdominal swelling after tummy tuck

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Potential causes of upper abdominal swelling after tummy tuck include:

1. Normal postoperative swelling. Everyone is swollen following tummy tuck, but it is usually greater in the lower abdomen than the upper abdomen. Wearing a compression garment will help.

2. Residual excessive fat of the upper abdomen. If you had upper abdominal excess fat and did not undergo liposuction of this area, you may have some untreated abdominal protruberance. Liposuction will help.

3. Residual upper abdominal wall laxity. If the lower abdomen was tightened to a greater degree than the upper abdomen, some residual protruberance of the upper abdomen may occur. Converting a minitummy tuck to a full tummytuck may help. Or if there is enough residual upper abdominal wall fat, upper abdominal liposuction may camouflage the abdominal wall laxity.

4. Seroma. A fluid collection between the abdominal wall and the abdominal fat can be treated by removal with a syringe and needle under local anesthesia.

My advice: see your surgeon. If you have a seroma, get it treated. If not, wear a compression garment and wait. Residual fat or laxity should not be treated until all postoperative swelling has resolved (6 months minimum).

Plano Plastic Surgeon

Swelling is common after tummy tuck surgery

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At 2 weeks, post-op swelling is to be expected. The upper abdominal fullness can have many causes. Normal swelling from the upper abdomen not being placed in a compression garment.

There could be fluid, seroma, under the flap. If you did not have liposuction at the same time there could be excess fat in the upper abdominal flap. I would go back to your surgeon and discuss your concerns.

Irvin M. Wiesman, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon

Abdominal swelling

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Upper abdominal swelling is fairly common after abdomnopalsty. Usually I have patients wear an abdominal binder or liposuction garment to provide compression. This helps with the swelling.

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

See your surgeon soon

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It is normal to have generalized swelling after surgery, especially for several weeks. However, what you are describing seems excessive. The area upper area could be full from swelling or it could be full from fluid collection. It is important that you see your surgeon so he or she can examine you to tell for sure. Even if you had drains placed after surgery, fluid may still collect after they are removed. If it is fluid, it can usually be removed in a simple office procedure. The other concerns are that the plication of your fascia was either 1) not done or 2) came apart.

The plication holds your abdominal muscles together to give your abdomen a flatter shape. Some surgeons chose not to do the plication since it may prolong recovery time. However, the plication is very important to achieve the final shape of the abdomen. Additionally, if you only had a "mini tummy tuck," then the tightness in the lower abdomen sometimes pushes out making the upper abdomen bulge out. You should talk to your surgeon to clarify these issues.

I hope this was helpful.

Upper abdomen swelling after tummy tuck can be fluid, excess fat or bulging muscle

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You need to see the doctor who performed your tummy tuck.

There may be fluid accumulated beneath the skin, however your flat lower tummy makes this unlikely.

There may be excess fat under the upper abdominal skin which is causing the bulge-if so in time this may be removed by liposuction.

The most common cause of bulging of the upper abdomen after a mini tummy tuck with a flat lower tummy is that the muscles of the upper abdomen which were not treated are lax or loose and the abdominal contents are bulging against the loose muscles.

This is particularly likely if the lower abdominal muscles were tightened during the mini tummy tiuck and the upper muscles were not tightened. Unfortunately, if this is the case, revisional surgery may be required to tighten the upper abdominal muscles.

Many reasons for upper abdominal swelling after tummy tuck

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There are many potential causes for this.

  1. Mini tummy tucks commonly have this appearance
  2. Seroma of upper abdomen
  3. Constrictive garments which create a tourniquet effect on the upper abdomen
  4. Many other causes

in any event contact your physician to perform and examination and provide you with a definitive answer.

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

Swelling after a tummy tuck

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Yes some swelling is normal, however an examination can best determine if it is from a fluid collection, excess fat or muscle that is bulging. 
Best of luck, Dr. Michael Omidi

An in-person exam with a board-certified plastic surgeon is the best way to assess your needs and provide true medical advice.

Michael M. Omidi, MD, FACS
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 120 reviews

Swelling Typically Resolves In 6-8 Weeks

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An upper abdominal bulge following abdominoplasty can occur for a variety of reasons.In someone who’s two weeks post-op, swelling is the most likely cause of this bulge.In most cases, swelling resolves in six to eight weeks, but small amounts of swelling may persist for up to a year.
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.
If this problem persists, 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.

Upper abdominal swelling following an abdominoplasty

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Swelling is a normal aspect of any surgical procedure. This can be asymmetric. There are also other causes of swelling such as a fluid collection or a hematoma. If there are questions you should see your plastic surgeon.

Jeffrey Zwiren, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 20 reviews

Swelling After Tummy Tuck

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Swelling normally takes a few weeks to subside. On average, most of the swelling goes away after about 3 months, and depending on the extent of surgery, this may even take up to 6 months. A full tummy tuck will involve a lengthier recovery period than a mini. During these weeks and months, you'll notice the swelling gradually lessening and can affect just some parts of your abdomen, as you are currently experiencing.

In the meantime, follow your surgeon's post-surgery care instructions and wear your compression garment as recommended. Your garment will help control swelling by encouraging your body to absorb and eliminate fluids that are causing the swelling. Here are some other tips to deal with swelling:

stay well hydrated and go to the washroom regularly
avoid salty foods and eat healthily
get plenty of rest, but also try to move around a bit at a leisurely pace to keep your circulation going when you're not lying down
once you have adequately recovered, you can consider lymphatic massage, but only with your surgeon's advice 

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.