How to control postoperative swelling after Tummy tuck

An illustration showing postoperative swelling stages.
Post Operative Swelling Stages

In my previous blog post about postoperative Tummy tuck swelling I talked about how the blood supply is disrupted to different degrees using the two different types of tummy tuck techniques (standard vs. Lockwood). In summary, the more skin that is elevated and separated from the muscle layer, the more blood supply disruption you have. On this post we will address swelling of the tissues after tummy tuck and why compression garments following surgery are important to reduce swelling.

The body is made mostly of water, and there is a constant fluid leakage from the tissues balanced by reuptake of fluid into the lymphatic drainage system. When the lymphatic system is impaired, we get fluid accumulations. The fluid can accumulate between the tissues as interstitial fluid (like a soaked sponge), or outside of the tissues as a seroma (like a sac of fluid). It can also accumulate at some distance from the operative site, usually the upper thighs or legs.

The drawing above illustrates the various types of fluid accumulation following surgery. As you move from left to right on the illustration you have increasing swelling to result in these conditions:

normal skin > normal swelling > seroma

Fluid accumulation after a Tummy tuck

Fluid accumulation can happen early on in the postoperative period. When the body is in the acute healing phase it produces a lot of fluid. There are also a lot of tissues cut by the surgery, so there is leakage from those areas. The lymphatic channels themselves, which are used for drainage of the fluid, are cut and interrupted, so drainage of the fluids is impaired. This is to be expected. Since we know that there will be fluid accumulation after surgery, plastic surgeons prepare for this by utilizing drains during the postoperative period.

Swelling after a Tummy tuck

Swelling can also happen after the acute healing phase is over, during the prolonged healing phase. The long incision line across the lower abdomen interrupts a lot of lymphatic channels. Since drainage of the lymphatics goes from the extremities to the heart, the incision path blocks drainage until lymphatic channels get reestablished. This can take weeks or months. The swelling is manifested as swelling in the upper thighs, and in some cases in the lower legs. The abdominal skin flap can stay swollen due to lymphatic blockage weeks after surgery. This type of swelling requires compression, because swollen tissues themselves can cause more scarring.

Choice of Tummy tuck surgical technique is important

Control of swelling starts with surgical planning. As was described in my earlier post describing the Lockwood technique of Tummy tuck, the less you separate the tissues the better. This is because there is less empty space for fluid to accumulate, less tissue from which fluid leaks, more intact lymphatics to drain fluid, and tissues can heal faster. I prefer the Lockwood technique because separates less tissues than the standard technique After surgery, compression is very important. It prevents fluid leakage from the tissues, and once it occurs, the pressure forces it back into whatever drainage channels are available (drains or lymphatics). Tissues heal better and faster when there is minimal swelling.

Compression garments control Post Op swelling

After the surgery , there is one thing that YOU can do which will help to control swelling. The most important thing YOU can do is to wear the post operative compression garment for at least two weeks straight . The type of compression garment used during the post op period is important. Too much compression at a given point can stop blood flow and cause tissue death. Too little, and fluid accumulates. In my opinion abdominal binders (wrap around type) are inadequate because they shift and the shearing from it can disrupt the healing of the abdominal flap to the muscle underneath. Secondly, they can obstruct flow from the extremities back to the heart. This is why some people with abdominal binders can have swelling in the upper thighs.

To control swelling, I only use medical grade compression garments that go from the rib cage to just above the knees, with shoulder straps to prevent creases. You can read more details about what they look like here . The compression is uniform so there is not too much pressure in any one site. The compression in the thighs prevents any fluid buildup in the upper thighs and legs. In addition, in areas where I have separated a lot of tissue I put some foam pads to apply gentle extra pressure and prevent seromas. The compression garments are left continuously for two weeks (except for taking showers or baths), and during the day for another two weeks. This is a month of wearing garments. It is important to wear the garment for this entire period so that you are compressed during both periods of fluid accumulation, the acute (immediately following surgery) and prolonged healing phases (2-4 weeks out).

Summary of controlling Post Op Tummy tuck swelling

In my experience has been that post operative swelling can be easily controlled with:

  • the appropriate surgical design (Lockwood technique)
  • prompt and prolonged compression with medical grade compression garments

Wondering if a Tummy tuck is right for you?

Contact Us to schedule your in-office or virtual consultation for just $30 (which gets applied to your surgery when you book). Or just give us a call at 410-494-8100! Note: Virtual consults can also be used to get second opinions.

By Dr. Ricardo L. Rodriguez MD Board Certified Plastic Surgeon Cosmeticsurg Baltimore, Maryland Ricardo L. Rodriguez on American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

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145 thoughts on “How to control postoperative swelling after Tummy tuck”

  • Carin Baker says:

    I am 8 wks post mini tummy tuck.. I have never been so uncomfortable. It was actually C-section scar removal. I have severe swelling in my mid-section of my stomach and vagina. I also am extremely anxious.. I am not sure what compression garment I should wear at this stage. The first 3 wks were way better than today..please help. Also, I have blisters on my vagina from fluid. What should I do? My Dr says wait it out?
    • Dr. Ricardo L. Rodriguez says:

      I apologize for the late reply. How did things work out? Most of these issues do work themselves out after a while which may be why your surgeon recommended patience. Let me know!
  • Tura Stephens says:

    I am 10 weeks post op muscle repair and I still look like I did before the muscle repair. I see so many other patients who stomach was much bigger and their stomach is flat and look better compared to mine. I really think I could have benefited from lipo
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Tura: It is not a good idea to do liposuction in the same area where you are doing the tummy tuck. You can do the lip on the back and on the sides, but not in the central area.
  • Julie W says:

    I had my tummy tuck back in April, so about 4 months ago. I really want to get back to my workouts, but every time I do exercise my abdomen and sides swell up! I'm not straining any muscles either... How long will this last?
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Julie: You should ask your Plastic Surgeon because he knows what is common and not common in his patients. Otherwise I would recommend using compression garments when you work out.
  • Karen Hickey says:

    I had almost ten pounds of excess skin removed about two weeks ago. The first week I was in a binder that they used right after surgery which was a little big and allowed slippage. I am now in a good garment and drains have been removed. I am still experiencing swelling and tight bloating and my bowels are sluggish. I am worried that it's fat or something that I did wrong. How long can it take to see the results and for the swelling to go away? Also I am experiencing swelling in the feet And ankles. Can you put my fears at ease.
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Karen: You should really contact your own surgeon, this being so soon after the postoperative period. Only he knows exactly what he did. Diagnosing problems over the internet is never a good idea. You need hands on exam. If you haven't called I'm or seen him yet, do so now.
  • Sonia parke says:

    Hi i had a tt 16 weeks ago 16 days post op i had a wound infection i was taken back to theatre and reopened and the infection cleaned out that was 12 wks ago iv gained some weight due to bein commenced on insulin my tummy is very swollen at the top but extends more at nite i dbnt knw wither the weight gain or is it still swollen due to the reopening and infection i feel very down and depressed as i am now heavier than i was before the tt please help
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Sonia: Your weight is the result of calories gained (eating) minus calories expended (exercise, metabolism). Body contouring such as lip or Tummy Tuck is not a weight loss procedure. You will lose weight if you control what you eat or increase your exercise level while controlling what you eat. As for your surgical issues, you really need to talk to your surgeon and address those issues. I may be swelling due to scar tissue created after the infection, but you should really be talking to your surgeon.
    • Pam says:

      Hi. Just found this so I"m sorry it"s years after your surgery. I"m in the same position now as you were then and have had the infection an closure surgery 6 weeks ago. Been really swollen ever since but not sure if it"s fat or fluid. It feel like fluid to me. My question is, has your swelling settled down and gone away, and if so, how long did it take? Thanks so much
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Frances: Not that I am aware of! But compression is the best and most effective way.
  • Keisha Nicholson- Cuffee says:

    I am now post op into my 5th week.I'm wear my compression garment as instructed but i notice on my sides is very hard when i rub feel like bricks are on each side is this normal with swelling? And also from belly button to top of scar i have no feeling is this normal in my 5th week
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Keisha: These issues are best discussed with your surgeon as he knows what he did and what techniques he used. It is probably swelling, so the compression garment does help. Lack of feeling from belly button to scar is not uncommon as the skin has to get lifted from the muscle wall and in the process of this some nerves get cut. There is no way to prevent this, except by not having the surgery in the first place.
  • Maria says:

    I am 4 weeks post-op from tt, lipo with fat transfer to buttocks. Right after surgery, I started wearing a compression garment size medium. After 2 weeks, that garment become lose and had to buy another one size small. Now I'm at 4 weeks post-op and this garment is a little lose. Should I invest in buying another garment...maybe size xsmall? Will I shrink some more?
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Maria: The garment should be snug but not too tight. The size of the garment is not the size, but how it feels. Hope this helps!
  • Lilly says:

    I am 6 weeks post op today from extended TT and more Lipo than I wanted, I wanted a bit of fat transferred to butt. I believed he was desperately looking for fat on me and went overboard instead of telling me prior it might not be feasible. So I have been miserable for six weeks. That Lipo is a killer. My skin is saggy. I'm older late sixties, I knew that could happen and asked him to go easy on Lipo. It's done now I just want to heal. Maybe I'm a baby. He gave me a wrap like one wears for a back problem as he didn't want me to flatten out my butt. A week or so ago my upper thighs started swelling and I was at the doctor getting a ct scan for a kidney issue, unrelated and they noted a small seroma inside on the report. I have to lie down everyday even though I am religiously wearing The wrap? I just read your article about those wraps causing leg swelling. I just put on a spanx type garment I had bought, goes from mid thigh to under breasts and over shoulders. I hope this helps as I hoped at 6 weeks i would be more mobile. Even sitting too long causes swelling. My Doctor is unresponsive. I guess he wants everyone he operates on to just be happy and not complain. I just want answers. What more can I do to alleviate the swelling? How long might I expect this to last? Much I severely limit my activity? I don't do much mostly run errands for maybe only a half day. Any suggestions would be helpful. Thank you
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Lily: You need to let your Doctor know that you are unhappy. Tell him what you told me in this email. Ask him that if he does not know what is going on to please refer you to a specialist who might know. And finally, if he refuses to answer tell him you might go to and talk about your experience. That will get his attention real quick. But above all, give him a chance to explain yourself- he may not be aware your are so unhappy.
  • Kristina says:

    I am 6 days post op, TT, Lipo of back and flanks, and fat transfer in to my hip dips. I was sent home in a Velcro abdominal binder. Swelling is insane. My baggy pj pants are tight in my hips and thighs. Swelling is everywhere!! I took it upon myself to order a compression garment two days after my surgery, no reason besides I was looking for something with the specs I felt my body was in need of. I'm so excited because it meets all if your requirements! It will arrive in two days. In the meantime my question is do I continue using the binder or I have a pair of Spanx that go up just under my breast to mid thigh and a Spanx tank. Which should I wear?
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Kristina: Sorry I caught your post just now. I hope by now everything has sorted itself out. But in general, these are the type of questions you should ask your Doctor about.
  • Sandra Jaquez says:

    Today is 3 months since my tummy tuck and my abdomen is still very swollen, it looks lik i am pregnant, I wore the compression garment 24 hours for two months and days for the last month and massage myself and have gone to massagers but I see no improvement, what could be wrong?
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Sandra, you need to talk to your Doctor and you need to get to the bottom of this. A diagnosis over the internet is not very reliable.
  • Kathsousa says:

    I am 15 weeks postop TT - 2 days ago my incision opened up a little and my PS used silver nitrate on it and told me to continue this every 2 days until it is healed. My question what should it start looking like - this morning it seems a little angrier and bigger?
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Kathsousa: Sorry about the delay in responding. By now the situation with your wound must have declared itself. If it is not resolved you really need to see your doctor. He should probe the wound to see if there is an underlying stitch or fluid collection.
  • mnfenner says:

    Hi Doctor!!! I'm 3 weeks post op from panniculectomy as well tummy tuck and lipo of the left and right flank was wondering what kind of exercise can I do. my skin on my legs is feeling saggy maybe its mental because I'm use to working out daily I don't knows
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Mnfenner: These are the kinds of questions you should be asking your surgeon as he knows the technical details of what he did. But thanks for thinking of us!
  • ivone says:

    how can I tell tell if they did the whole procedure on me I had a tummy tuck with 2 lipo but I feel like the lipo was never done?
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Ivone: You can ask for the operative report. Are you unhappy with the result? Ask the surgeon directly!
  • Demetris Sewell says:

    I had a hernia mesh repair 5/5/14, can I get laser Lipo done now or would they have to remove the mesh. If that's the case then I'd rather keep living with the baby fat.
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Demetris: You need to ask that question specifically to the Doctor who will be performing your surgery. Personally I would use tumescent liposuction with small cannulas
  • Crystal says:

    Hi. I had a panniculectomy only 10 days ago in conjunction with a full hysterectomy. I wear the binder every day but left it off for a couple of days as I still have staples and was advised to by the nurse when my jp drains were removed. My concern is now the swelling of my pubic mound...It is really swelled, and tender and lopsided looking like one side is bigger than the other. Is this swelling normal? Anything to make it go down some?
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Crystal: All these are questions that are better answered by your surgeon. He knows the technique he used and therefore can give you meaningful answers.
  • Erica says:

    Hi doc im a week post op from a tummy tuck. Where my drain is inserted I have a burning sensation on the bottom on my skin underneath the drain area.It's red puffy and burns often. What should I do?? No puss just burning ouch Thanks Erica
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Erica: I am sorry I did not see your post originally. Are you feeling better now? I hope your doctor was able to take care of your concerns. Merry Christmas!
  • dr ashwini says:

    Hello doc With the gaping wound can I start wearing compression garments as the sokage is redused or it will lead to further gaping? Am worried pls help me Ashwini
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Ashwini: You need to address that with your surgeon. I am not there, I have not examined you, and this really needs somebody who is there and can see you.
  • Casey Marmon says:

    TT AND BREAST REDUCTION 7-2013 I have sevear swelling in upper abdomen tight with destination. I am told by husband and family I look tight and swollen everywhere. I have gained 35 lbs not from over eating. I can not walk to around neighbor for 45 minutes like i did 3 months after TT. 6 months ago I started horrible shortness of breath. Cannot excerise and am sleeping sitting up. I have had cardio, pulmonary, endrocronoligst do complete work ups. Cat scans, blood work, echo, right Heath cath, upper and lower GI. No one can find anything!!! saw PS 6 months ago he said you have ogmentum lose weight. I can not breathe can not excerise. I have been reading posts, been all over Internet. Any thoughts PLEASE
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Casey: It seems your problem is complex. Your solution now is not surgical, but medical. It may involve loss of weight. But keep pursuing answers especially with the cardiologist and pulmonary doctors
  • Becky . says:

    Hello, please I started attending the gym about a week now and I realised my vagina is swollen after a couple of stomatch exercise.Please is it normal
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Becky: I do not know the specifics of your case, your best bet is to call your surgeon. Be insistent. By the way, I think it's OK, but you really need to check with your surgeon.
  • Angelica Varela says:

    It's been 4 weeks since my tummy tuck. I have a hole in my incision and it's leeks. This has been going on for about a week. Yesterday, I got a huge burning pain right below the incision. It's none stop pain especially when I get up, I feel this big burning pain. It feels like my fluids burn. My doctor said it was a muscle recuperating. Is that correct? Or is it something else? Thank you !
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Angelica: You need to see your Doctor. It may be an infected suture if there is a hole and it is leaking. But he needs to look at it.
  • Deborah says:

    What is the best compression garments to use po-op for lipo and tummy tucks? There are so many to choose from!
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Deborah: I don't think the individual manufacturer is as important as making sure that: 1) The garment goes beyond the area treated, so for example an abdominal binder is not enough for a tummy tuck 2) Shoulder straps are important because they prevent the garment from kinking when you sit. 3) The garment has holes to use to go to the bathroom 3) The garment has both a zipper and "hook and eyelet" closure so you can adjust compression. Hope this helps!
  • TrizahGatimu says:

    I have a big tummy and flat butts, I would really love to have my butts lifted, where are you located and how much does is cost?? Please help
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Trizah: As you said, you would really love to have your butts lifted, and so would we! Kelly will be getting in contact with you soon. We'd love to help you!
  • Cathyy says:

    I am 9 day post from tummy tuck, muscle repair and liposuction on my whole back and inner thighs and upper back legs... I weigh more than what i did before surgery and the drainage was removed 2 days ago and i have been swelling up more? Is this normal?
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Cathyy: You need to talk to your surgeon. i can' answer any of these questions as I was not present at the surgery and I don' know how your surgeon does the procedure. It is normal to have extra weight on board from the fluids given to you during surgery, but that will work itself out over the next few days.
  • marsha says:

    I had surgery aug 20 2012 the swollen . I have a 15 month old 23lbs and a 35lbs 2 year old . My 2 year old had kicked me in my tummy right where they put mesh ... my surgen had said she gave me a bleed inside .. how ever it has been 4 weeks and i am only having more pain it is not healing it seem's . As i am lifting the two small one's through the day . Do you know what a recovery time should be before i should be lifting my little one's ?
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Marsha: You had a mesh put in, it looks like your surgery was not the type I regularly do. You should really talk this over with your surgeon and ask him how long he expects the swelling will last and what he thinks will help things get better
  • Amy says:

    Hello I am 4 weeks, 3 days post full tummy tuck and a little lipo (like 200 ml) I weigh about 5 pd more than I did pre op. I am eating less. Is this weight gain or swelling. Also, my thighs and hips are bigger, about an inch. Is that normal? When will this go down. I'm wearing an abdominal binder. Would I benefit fom something around hips too?
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Amy: We always use compression garments that go above and below the area operated on precisely because of the issues of swelling you mention.
  • Amy says:

    Hello I am 4 weeks, 3 days post full tummy tuck and a little lipo (like 200 ml) I weigh about 5 pd more than I did pre op. I am eating less. Is this weight gain or swelling. Also, my thighs and hips are bigger, about an inch. Is that normal? When will this go down. I'm wearing an abdominal binder
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Amy: At 4 weeks a lot of this is still probably swelling. It is possible to gain weight even if you are eating less because you may also be reducing your activity a lot. In any case, as I always tell postoperative patients, you should really talk to your surgeon because he can see you and examine you.
  • Heidi says:

    Hello, I am 8 weeks post op extended tummy tuck with muscle repair and lipo. My last visit with PS was at 6 weeks, ok'd to stop wearing compression garment, everything healing great! He was very pleased! Last Friday, PS left on sabbatical and may not return...closed his office. Saturday I started having pain on/just below the incision on the left side of the pubic area. There are some hard lumps but nothing seems to be infected, just tender to the touch, worse after extended activity (like standing and doung the dishes). Still very swollen all over, and decided to start wearing my garment again. Are the lumps and swelling of serious concern or is this just something that happens? I'm lost for any other contact, not sure what to do. Help please if you can!
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Heidi: It's probably scar tissue. I'm sure there are plenty of plastic surgeons in your area, and to be absolutely sure you need to be examined. But my guess is that it is OK. But please, check it out with a plastic surgeon who can examine you.
  • rhondasperry says:

    Hello, I am almost 11 weeks post-op. I had a tt on Feb 15, 2012 and I have looked like I was pregnant at 3 weeks, but don't really know because never looked at my self standing up with out garmet on. I was told by my ps that my stitches came out of my muscles and I could have another surgery for the charge of 2750. Then a couple of weeks went by and he told me it was fat and he could do treatments for five treatments at $400 each treatment. I told him I had to save up the money because I didn't have it I am making payments on the tt. He then told me he didn't need to see me again until I come up the the $400. What do you get from this ps? I am very unhappy with my tummy tuck, I look 5 months pregnant. I do exercises because at 3 weeks he told me to, then a hole formed in my incision. I got a cyst on my incision, that he squeezed with his bare hands, no gloves on.
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Rhonda: How are things coming along? It's almost 4 months after surgery, and it's the time to stark making judgements about the result. It is not unusual to charge for a revision as there are associated costs to doing the surgery, and the surgeon is not at fault for how the body heals. There are 2 things you could do. One is get a second opinion. The second is to ask to see the surgeon free of charge to talk about the surgery. Tell them you are concerned and you want to talk. If they refuse, ask for a copy of your records. Tell them you may be seeking counsel. That will get his attention. You do have some bargaining power and may be able to bring the fee down, but you will have to pay something, he has to pay the facility, the nurses, the anesthesiologist, etc.
  • Crystal says:

    Dr, I am 7 weeks post op from full tummy tuck, breast aug and lipo of flanks. My doctor was really great however he does not suggest his patients to wear compression garments after surgery. I am still swollen over my incision which makes my pants stick out a lot. Is this swelling normal for 7 weeks and how much swelling is too much? Thanks
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Crystal: There is not much I can say not having done the surgery or knowing what the surgeon did. Usually it is best to wait 4 months before deciding what the final result is. Compression garments such as Spanx are easily available at retail stores, I would try it. Good luck!
  • jennifer corriveau says:

    In had the fdl tt and bl on 03/13. I still have 2 drains in my groan area. Output is avg 130 daily and dark red with foul odor.I started antibiotics but why hasnt my drainage changed color or amount. im worried sick. please advise. thank u
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Jennifer: Sorry about the delayed response. I hope things are better. In any case you probably had a hematoma (blood collection) which is why the fluid is dark red. As always, you need to talk to your surgeon. Do not take no for an answer, insist that you are worried and you need to see the Dr.
  • Teri says:

    I had an abdominoplasty with liposuction of my love hanldes and outter thighs 8 weeks ago. Is it normal to swell through out the day into your upper abd. I feel every sore, tender, and bruised bruised still. Wasn't sure if that was from the feeling coming back or it this is abnormal. I still wear my compression garment (Raineywear), love it but not sure if I need extra compression. What would you recommend for swelling? I started out in a size large garment and now in a small garment but I don't think I could fit into an xs because I don't think I could get it up over my hips. LOL. Really can't tell that much difference in my clothes anymore either.
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Teri: I wouldn't say it is the rule to stay swollen for 8 weeks, but it is not abnormal either. At this stage in your recovery I would think about other garments such as Spanx which are available in retail. You really should try and see your surgeon and ask these questions, but I think anti-inflammatories would help also.
  • Veronica says:

    Well it's been four months of my tummy tuck & lipo but jus last months started swelling from my left top side of my tummy it use to go away now it doesn't no matter wat it doesn't go away it's hard & it hurts at doctor is from Mexico Hermosillo and haven't seen him since surgery! I've been seeming his wanna be nurse and I ask to see him and she says wat for everything is fine? Any comforting response would helP thank you
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Veronica: Unfortunately, my advice to you is to see a plastic surgeon in your area. He will be able to evaluate you in person and tell you what's going on. There's very little one can do one the internet in a complicated case like yours.
  • Josie Maeda says:

    I had a complete tummy tuck four weeks ago, had drains for two while wearing compression binder but now after almost 5 weeks I still have a very stone hard area all around and bellow my belly button. My doctor said it is fat necrosis but I am getting worried that it will not get better. I asked him what should I do to make it better but he said nothing I can do but wait. I don't know if I should continue with compression or massage or what. I don't like how my body looks, full of hard lumps. Please advise or tell me what is happening. Thank you
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Josie: Keep wearing compression and doing massage. 4 weeks really is not too long after surgery. I don't even take post op pictures until 4 months have gone by. You have to be patient. A lot of these issues will resolve with time. There is a lot of healing going on inside of you. It is cosmetic surgery, but a lot of work was done to your body. It will take time to settle out. Don't panic, 4 weeks is early.
  • Chris says:

    Dr, Rodrigueq- i had tummy tuck surgery with lipo 6 weeks ago. I had 9 1/2 pounds recomoved of excess skin and fat. I get very bloated adn my stomach gets hard throughout the day. Is this normal for 6 week post op? I am worried because i've read alot of horror stories online that it could be like this forever. my last checkup my PS said i was more bloated than anything, is this normal after a tummy tuck prodcedure? i never had any bloating prior to the surgery. Will it go away?
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Chris: The bloating is swelling secondary to the fact that a lot of healing is still going on underneath the skin. Wear compression garments and you will see improvements. The bloating will go away, 6 weeks is not that long after surgery. A tummy tuck and lipo is a lot of surgery. Hope this helps!
  • Ala1216 says:

    Hello. I am seven weeks post-op from a tummy tuck and umbilical hernia repair. My dr said I had very seperated ab muscles and he used multiple layers of stitching to close them back up. I had mesh placed to repair the hernia. My problem is that I was told I could go without the binder I have been using since my surgery. I have been "easing my way out of it" by wearing it "more loose" progressivly the last 5 days. My swelling had gone down considerably about 2 weeks ago but has returned, even before I started to reduce the tightness of the binder. My pubis area is VERY swollen and uncomfortable, as it has never compressed by the binder. I slept very little last night because of this, should I ice or warm the area for relief? Help please! Thank You
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Ala1216: First of all, my advise is secondary to that of your surgeon because he did the surgery and he knows what his technique does in the recovery process. My preference is for compression garments rather than abdominal binders. Rather than ice or heat, my guess is that you would benefit from something like one of the Veronique line of garments, you can look it up in the internet.
  • Lina says:

    Hi Dr. Rodriguez. Okay, I am freaking out. I am currently nine weeks postop. At about two weeks part of my incision opened up and my PS waited an additional two weeks before closure to ensure healthy tissue so that I would have no problems with infection and he also put me on an antibiotic before as well. So now I am at nine weeks postop and five weeks from my incision closure. The incision looks great and I feel pretty darn good. My only concern at this point is the lump I have above my belly button. Some days it seems a little bigger but lately it has been consistent in its size and I am afraid it will be a permanent part of my anatomy now and I'm not happy. I wore my compression garment religiously for almost eight weeks and did not attempt exercise or anything strenuous until my PS released me to do so just a few days ago (at my nine week postop visit). Is this thing going to go away? Should I massage, go back to my garment? I have brought this to his attention many times but the answer is always the same "its just where I have more fat build up." Ugh! He said that since some days it is worse than others I can expect to have my final result look like the day that it is not as prominent. However, for the last week it has been consistent in size and I'm afraid it will stay that way. Please give me some advice before I have a heart attack!!!! Thank you!!!! P.S. I just started exercising two days ago and was hoping that maybe this area just needs to be strengthened? I don't know. HELP!!!! Thank you!!!!
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Lina: First of all, you need to relax. Generally I do not do anything about revisions until at least 4 months have gone by. Your body is still evolving. The good thing is that it is highly unlikely that whatever is going on above your belly button now is dangerous. As far as what you need to do, there's nothing I can suggest since I don't know what went on in surgery, and I would need to see and feel the area to get a sense of what's going on. If it gets bigger some days or at a certain part of the day it probably has to do with localized swelling. Merry Christmas! If you appreciate what you have learnt here please spread the word about my website to your friends and online.
  • Boo says:

    Hi!~ I am post op 2 weeks today. I had a breast augmentation and abdominalplasty at the same time. I went with silicone implants under the muscle. I went with 250cc. I am 5'8" and 34 years old. I have two children and have lost 110 lbs over the last 5 years through eating healthy and exercising. My doctor was suppose to complete a mastopexy as well. But decided to do it in 3 mths time. My only down fall is that I am experiencing burning pain in my right arm pit and down my arm. I can not lift my arm nor lay in bed without the sharp pain. There is no incision in my pit area. Feels like what i guess nerve damage is. I started to take B12. I am wondering if there is anything more i can do. I am thinking that I may get relief when my lift is done in 3 mths? What do you think? Also I have little swelling( waterbed feel) above my incision on my tummy....wondering if there is anything you can take that is natural..that will help reduce this quicker.? Thank you so much for your time.I have discussed this with my doctor. I just wondered second opinion.
  • moni says:

    Dr. I have been reading your blog on swelling and have some concerns. I'm 13 day post opt tummy tuck and lipo in my dori rolls and flanks. My stomach is pretty flat by my navel, however my lower ab is so tight and swollen to me. I was concern that i may have a seroma because of the swelling to me. Im standing up straight and I get my drains remove tomorrow. Im only producing 7cc each drain for the last 3 days. So Im not releasing alot of fluid but im still swollen. Should I get a different compression garment or do you think its a seroma?
  • Cheri Lambert says:

    Hi Dr. Rodriquez, I had tt with breast lift 10 weeks ago. The Dr did not use drains, my incision opened on right side which caused alot of drainage but the left side did not drain and it is still swollen more and my tummy is very uneven. I also had a previous gall bladder surgery and had the large scar across my abdomen which has caused my tummy to be uneven on that side. THe top part of my stomach seems bigger also. My upper thighs are also much larger than before and I have this horrible mons pubis. Basically, I have swelled so much and I am still pretty swollen. What can I do? How long with this last? By the end of the day of course, it's even worse. I'm very unhappy and my Dr keeps telling me to give it time. I wanted lipo by Dr didn't think I needed any but I definitely think I did. I don't have that pretty hour glass figure like I wanted. My right breast is also much lower than the left. Can this be fixed in Dr's office? Can he lift the right more to match the left? HELP!!!
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Cheri: Although 10 weeks is still a little early, by 16 weeks you should have an appointment with your surgeon and expect a plan of corrections. You don't have to wait more than 4 months by then things look pretty much what they are going to look like. You should expect to pay a small amount for the use of the operating room and anesthesiologist, as well as some for the doctor, but it should only be a fraction of the original cost. Remember, you paid for the Doctor's professional service, not for a result. Nobody can guarantee a particular result. If you have lost trust or confidence in this surgeon, then you may want to do a second consultation with another Surgeon. If you wanted my opinion, Kelly can help you set up a virtual consultation (
  • Sarah says:

    It makes sense to me. I am not a fan of girdles, but I will try. When I am in pain, compressing the area with my hands helps. Thank you again for your help and yes, I will spread the word! Sarah
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Sarah: One of the amazing things to me in this whole internet process is that I could actually help you with out having even spoken with you or met you. Don't you love the web?!
  • Sarah says:

    Thanks a lot for your response. Yes, the area swells more at the end of the day, or if I have been standing for a long period of time. It feels hard and tense. I had an ultrasound done with "normal" results. I will schedule an appointment with a plastic surgeon as you recommended. What should I expect if the problem is swelling in the scar region? Thanks again for your time and for sharing your expertise.
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Sarah: You need more compression. Get a compression garment, like the Spanx brand that is more compressive than regular pantihose or girdles. Hope this helps. Spread the word about my blog!
  • Doina says:

    Hi ok I had a tummy tuck and a breast lift 3 weeks ago last week I went back to the dr because I was swelling on one side of my stomach so he drained it with a needle but today I still have some swelling on the same side is that normal?
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Doina: When there is a seroma it is not unusual to have to drain it 2 or 3 times, sometimes even more. Are you compressing it? that is always helpful, maintaining compression 24/7 after drainage. Let me know how it turns out!
  • Sarah says:

    I had a partial tummy tuck 8 years ago. After my surgery I developed seromas that were treated by my doctor. Now I am having symptons such as swelling (looks like small pillows) and pain on the left side of the abdomen. I have had all kinds of tests done and nothing has been found. Is there a possibilty of developing seromas after such a long time? Since I moved from where I had my surgery done, what kind of doctor should I consult? ...a general surgeon or a plstic surgeon? Thanks a lot for your time and advice.
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Sarah: I don't think it's a seroma, but it could be swollen scar tissue. If it swells more at the end of the day it's a sign that it is probably swelling in the scar region. If it wobbles like a water matress, its probably a seroma. Go see a plastic surgeon. Have you had an ultrasound of the area? Anyways, good luck and let us now what they find out!
  • Sarah says:

    I'm down 140 lbs, and on October.28th I had received a tummy tuck, and a breast augmentation. I have three drains in me as of now.. my legs-thighs and butt have tripled in size. What can I do to make the swelling go down? This abdominal wrap Is hurting my rib cage more than anything. Killer. Thanks for your time, much appreciated.
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Sarah, I sympathize with your plight, but right now, you need to have these questions answered by your surgeon. Call his office, his advice will be a thousand times more valuable than that of a Doctor who has never seen you and does not know the details of your case.
  • Cecilia says:

    I had saline breast implants (through my bellybutton). & I had liposuction done on my axilla (arm), tummy, hips, inner & outer thighs two days ago. The compression garments seem very, very tight. Is this normal? Also, my vagina has swollen severely & is VERY uncomfortable. I was told this was normal & that I could not put ice "down there". Is this true? I would think it would help with the swelling & pain? Please help! Thank you!
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Cecilia: The vagina can get very swollen because it is not in the compressive part of the garment. You should not ice it because your sensation in that area may be impaired for the next few days and can actually damage the tissues because you will not be able to feel very well. I usually recommend to my patients to use a snug pair of panties over the garment to keep swelling down in that area. Most importantly, if you are that concerned, you should demand to be seen by the Dr. Not having done your surgery, or even seen you, my opinion has very little value. Good luck, and get seen by the Doc
  • Erma Edwards says:

    I have had a drain in for almost 2 months, I was not put into a compression suit, untill I went back to have fluid taken out with a needle then they put a girdle type around my waist. Help me out still draining. what if it doesn't stop draining when they take this tube out of my side? Unhappy so far. thanks
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Erma: You need to do 2 things: 1) Have a frank discussion with your surgeon and ask him what your options are, and what his plan is if this doesn't resolve quickly. 2) If you are not happy with what he has to say, get a second consult.

    Hi, My mother did a tummy tuck in colombia with a surgeon who has worked on myself a few times and many other people I know. Everyone looks great and we've had a lot of success with him. After 3 weeks more or less of perfect recovery she has developed what looks like liquid retention or swolleness. This all happened shortly after a family memeber was assisting her with putting on her garment and accidently hit her extremely hard. Could the swelling just be from the hit ? or should there be a concern?
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Raisa: Your mother most probably has a seroma. She should go to a local surgeon to evaluate it. She may need a drainage of the seroma. I do not think the swelling comes from the hit, most likely it has been present, but the fluid accumulates progressively. Let me know how it turns out
  • Colleen says:

    I am two months out of my tummy tuck & breast augmentation. I wore the compression garment you described and had excellent results. It also made my incisions and tummy feel more secure and less painful; but now that I have eased off wearing it due to the heat I am finding that when I poke at my stomach it does this that would be fluid build up? I went to Colombia for my surgery, so running to my surgeon is outta the question. So, my question is how long after surgery does the swelling and fluid build up? I did loose 140lbs and my prob was a mass of connective tissue above my belly button so I am very happy. although, I feel like my skin is stretchy,Is this normal?
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Colleen: You probably do have a fluid collection (seroma), if what you describe is correct. You should consult with a plastic surgeon in your area. In the meantime, wearing your garment may help the fluid reabsorb. Let me know how it turns out!
  • anamaria says:

    Hi Dr. Rodriguez: My mother-in-law had a tummy tuck and some minor love handle liposuction in March. We flew out of the country and my uncle did the sx. She ended up developing an area of necrotic tissue between the bellybutton and the pubic area, which is almost completely healed by now. She seem to be improving until a couple of week ago when the surgeon who is doing the followup used silver nitrate to cauterized the last of the incision opening. She is in a lot of pain, but her main complain is pain in her lower back directly opposite the area of the healing opening and pain in her left groin (this one she has had since about a week after the sx). I guess she is wondering if the back pain could be related to the open wound she had for a while or just due to change in the level of activity. She is 62 and in pretty good shape and quite active.
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Anamaria: The back pain is probably related to other causes than the wound itself. The pain in the groin may be related to a nerve trapped in the scar. For a real opinion, however, you should really consult with a physician who examines her directly. Hope she feels better!
  • Ceri says:

    Hi 5 days post op from t tuck & lipo... I take my compression garment off at night is this ok ? Thanks :0)
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Ceri: You need to ask your surgeon. I know nothing of the garment you are using or the technical details of the procedure, so any opinion of mine on the subject would be based on ignorance. But glad for you that you are getting a new body!
  • martine charlier says:

    i am 10 weeks post op tt. within the past 2 weeks i started to swell in the area between my belly button and surgical incision. is this normal? also feeling very tight when i stan up straight.
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Martine: This is normal within the post operative period, even up to a month postop. Compression garments help, even after a month. At this point I would recommend some of the higher compression garments such as "Spanx", which you can get at many retailers. Good luck and congrats on your new figure!
  • Jason says:

    My wife is from Peru and when she decided to have a tummy tuck she insisted on doing it there. She had a tummy tuck, breast augmentation and lipo done on her sides and back just above the butt. She was in the hospital for 9 days and after day 7 the drains were removed. After returning for a followup visit the removed several cc's of fluid from both her lower back and stomach. She went back 5 times for additional aspiration before returning to the states. Each time she returned the fluid removed was less but she does have some minor ripple effect in both areas. She wears a compression suit that covers like a one piece bathing suit that zips in the front. Obviously she cannot visit the doctor that performed the surgergy so what should we do about removing the excess fluid now that she is home. She looks great and we thoroughly investigated the surgeon, in fact he is one of the most respected plastic surgeons in the entire country but we are still concerned about this fluid. Should we try contacting a local plastic surgeon to have them look at her or maybe our family doctor. Please advise... Thanks
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Jason: Definitely a local plastic surgeon near you. Unfortunately, she will have to pay, and some surgeons may not be willing to care for another surgeon's complications. Call around, and if there is a university center near you with a Plastic Surgery Division that would be your best bet.
  • says:

    Dr. Rodriguez, I am 5 weeks post op yesterday and I am having a lot of swelling in my inner thigh area. What can I do to prevent this? Should it be of concern to me or is it normal at this stage? This is my 2nd tummy tuck in 4 months the first was not dont very well and so the surgen redid the lipo and pull of the skin. I did have a few seromas with the first but no swelling in the legs. any info would be great
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Mis_flo: The best person to ask all these questions is the surgeon who performed your surgery. He knows all the details and is in the best position to help you. I suggest you call him and ask all these questions in person. If the answers are not satisfactory, then get a second opinion from somebody who can look at you and examine you. Any suggestions I could give would be based on speculation and not really in your best interest.
  • Andrea says:

    7 weeks post op...... Love my tummy tuck! However, I am experiencing swelling, and have some concerns. I was FLAT and beautiful at 4 weeks. After 4 weeks I went to wearing my compression garment (medical grade) on an "as needed" basis... Only when I knew I was going to be more active than normal. I have NOT returned to my regular workout routine, but would like to know when I can return to Pilates and power walking. I have been careful with my diet to eat properly. I want that FLAT look back. I don't want to look like I'm 3 months pregnant. HELP!
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Andrea: I think for this you need to talk to your Plastic Surgeon. He knows how long his patients take to settle in and when it is safe to resume activity. I am really happy for you and I'm sure that since you are watching your diet, once you start working out you are going to look absolutely smashing!
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Wendy: I love Spanx, but they are not ideal for the first few days after surgery. Mainly, they don't have a zipper, which helps in the postoperative period when things are tender. You don't want to be squeezing in and out of a garment when everything is tender. Secondly, compression in Spanx is not as firm as it is in the specialized garments. I do recommend them a couple of weeks after surgery. My wife loves them!
  • laila Saliza says:

    Hi, I had an accessory breast removed from just below my left armpit 2 weeks ago. There was a drain put in for six days and then removed. The area has remaind swollen since the surgery but in the last 4 days it has swollen really big. My surgeon says it is post surgical trauma and will subside in about six weeks but I'm still worried. The swelling looks bigger than the accessory breast that had been there! is it possible that some breast tissue still needs to be removed? Also I've not been too stringent about wearing the compression garment, I wear it about 6 to 7 hrs a day. Is that causing the swelling and if i dont wear the garment regularly will the swelling become permanent? Please do get back on this as I'm deeply worried.
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Laila: For postoperative advice, the best person is usually your own surgeon. If you are still concerned, call him again and tell him about your concerns. It is impossible for me to offer an educated guess not knowing what the operation was, or seeing the problem now. The swelling may be scar tissue or fluid, but I really do not think it will be permanent. I do think you need to see your surgeon as he will give you a better strategy to deal with it than I can, since he is there, and he knows what the situation is. Good luck and keep me posted!
  • Gus Viera says:

    I've had two tummy tucks. A full and a mini. I used the compression garment after one of the procedures for 6 weeks. The second time around I got lazy and used it on and off. The amount of fluid retention and what the doctor drained weekly was almost the same.
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Gus: The amount of drainage has many contributing factors, including the use or non use of compression. For example, even with compression, a patient who is very active may get a seroma, even with faithful use of compression. A persons weight is also a contributing factor. Surgeon's technique also play a role. So yes, in your case you got seromas either way, but that does not mean the use of compression garment is useless in preventing seromas. When you take large groups of patients with similar conditions and compare compression to no compression, there is a significant difference in frquency of seroma complications in patients who do not get compression. Sorry to hear about your problems! Hope every thing turned out well in the end.
  • Rae says:

    I had a conventional tummy tuck on Feb 15th. On Feb 21st I started with brownish/red drainage from my incision just above my pubic bone that constantly drained with my lower abd feeling firm. I went back for another appt on Feb 25th nothing with needle aspiration. The dr took cultures and started me on antibiotic all though he does not feel it is infection. The drainage finally stopped today, but my lower abd from the belly button down and from hip to hip is swollen. It is soft when I lay down but firm when I stand with pressure. I am wearing my compression garment 24/7 but a little concerned about this. I am not sure if this is a hematoma or a seroma. I do not have the ripple effect nor do I have an indentation with pressure to area.
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Rae: This is the type of judgement which can be best made by the surgeon examining you. It seems both you and him are doing the appropriate things. Sometimes these things just take time.
  • shayaan says:

    I had surgery of harnia five years ago. 16 by 16 inch mash was used. I still have a big tummy. I have very controlled diet, but i'm worried about my big tummy. I'm 35 years old lady with two kids.
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Shayan: There are two possible reasons for your large tummy after hernia repair. The first one is that you still have a lot of fat inside your abdominal cavity. You can find some info about different treatment alternatives available in this post. The second one is that despite the fact you have a mesh, the mesh was sown in with a gap between the rectus muscles. Read this post about the rectus muscles. It is impossible for me to determine what would help you unless I saw your pictures and had a chance to chat with you. If you are serious about going forward, contact Kelly at
  • Michelle says:

    Hi Dr. Rodriquez. Thanks for answering my questions. Yesterday I went to my doctor and they decided to go ahead and remove my remaining drain but I do have a little swelling still in my lower abdomen. He said he doesn't believe it looks like a seroma, but he mentioned how to "test" it myself and to call them immediately if my skin "bounces" back like a waterbed like you mentioned. I don't think it's doing just seems swollen but I don't see a waterbed or ripple effect when I press on it. The swelling is along my incision's like all my swelling traveled south and that's why my upper torso is so flat and not swollen at all. I am definitely going to order another compression garment. This binder has done nothing it seems. I was thinking of a binder that goes over my thighs and all the way up to the ribs.....because I had lipo in the hips and they are swollen as well. Honestly, I researched tummy tucks a lot (from what I thought) and I had no idea that swelling would be such an issue. I sort of wish I had my tummy tuck using the method you use....the Lockwood technique. It seems like it's so much less complicated. The swelling can be quite depressing and at first was making me wonder if having a tummy tuck was the right decision......but I try to remind myself that it won't be swollen forever.
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      It will resolve,you just have to be patient. It is surgery, and people forget that the body has a lot of work to do. Luckily, it seems your surgeon is in top of it and has given you the access to reach him as soon as you need it. So relax, you are in good hands.
  • Michelle says:

    I wanted to add, when I say that the fluids came out of my "incision" site, I don't mean my tummy tuck insicion site. I meant the small area where the tube had been inserted. I was actually in my doctor's office and we were trying to get the tape removed and the drain just fell out. She sort of massaged my lower abdomen and A LOT of fluid just came gushing out. Today I feel like I'm just as swollen as yesterday. The output on this second drain isn't much and I don't understand why......because I'm obviously still very swollen.
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Michelle: There are two possible explanations for this. The first one is that sometimes fluid pockets are isolated from each other by areas where tissues have healed. So one drain ( the one that is still there is surrounded by healing tissue) can be draining very little, while there is a large pocket of fluid beside it. The second one is that because of the seroma, the tissues themselves are swollen. There is a simple way to tell. Put firm pressure with one finger for a couple of seconds in the most swollen part. Release suddenly. If the skin bounces back like a waterbed, you probably have more seroma fluid underneath. If there is an indentation where you put the finger in, the tissues themselves are swollen. Let me know what happens.
  • Michelle says:

    I had an extended tummy tuck 2 weeks ago and yesterday I went in to get my 2 drains removed, but I am having swelling in my lower abdomen....not in the upper part at all, just the lower section. One of the drains had come out before I even go to the doctor's office. My body just sort of rejected it and has been pushing it out until eventually, it came completely out. So my doctor decided to leave this second drain in for a few more days. I've been wearing a binder that they provided me with and I agree that I just don't feel like the binder is doing anything at all. It shifts around so much and it really doesn't even feel tight even when I pull it as tight as possible. When my tube fell out yesterday I pressed on my tummy and fluids came gushing out of my incision site literally and I watched the swelling go down. I feel like if I had been wearing a better medical compression garment then this swelling could have been prevented, but my doctor's office said that the binder should be all I need. Do you think I should go ahead and order a compression garment online and what type do you suggest? I had an extended tummy tuck with lipo of my back and my hips. Thanks
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Michelle: Go ahead and order the compression garment. I still think you are at risk of developing more fluid, so wear the garment 24/7. There is a risk that the seroma could get infected so I recommend you stay in close contact with your doctor. At the first sign of redness, pain , or fever alert your doctor as you may need antibiotics. If the swelling persists you may need a needle aspiration. Regretfully, seromas are not that uncommon after a conventional tummy tuck with dissection all the way to the rib margin. That is why I prefer the Lockwood method of dissection.
  • sofia says:

    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Sofia: I am sorry you are still having discomfort. At two months after surgery, the best option you have is to get in contact with your surgeon. He knows exactly what he did and what technique he used, therefore he will have the best clue as to what is going on now. It may be anything from normal postoperative swelling with his technique to a seroma. You need to get very assertive with his office and demand to be seen ASAP. Tell the office staff that you are having problems. If they do not respond quickly, tell them that if you are not seen quickly, you will ned to go see somebody else and request a copy of your medical records. That should elicit a response. You do need to be seen in person. An online consult at this point would only be speculative. You need a secure diagnosis.
  • Beth says:

    Hi, I had a kidney transplant in November which included a hernia repair using mesh. Immediately after the surgery I had vaginal swelling and fluid pockets in my abdomen. The fluid was removed from my abdomen on 3 different occasions at Interventional Radiology during Nov. and Dec., but the vaginal swelling never went away. After the last fluid removal, I wore a wrap around binder on my abdomen. During Feb., March and April, I started accumulating fluid, but without fluid pockets, and the fluid didn't show up on CT or ultrasound, but my abdomen and vagina were very loose, jiggly, etc. I was told the fluid was probably in the tissues. Surgeon through it could be the mesh causing the problem, so it was removed a couple weeks ago, major surgery cut on the same incision as the transplant, 5 days in the hospital. The mesh was tangled up inside when he went in. My incision is about 12" - 13" long. My surgeon also gave me a mini "tummy tuck", which he typically does for me when he has to go in there (2 transplants, gall bladder removal & hernia repair, etc.). I hoped this was the culprit of all of my swelling, but my vagina is still very swollen and jiggly, and my upper inner thighs are very "heavy". If I put my leg horizontal and twist it to the side, and let the inner thigh drop with gravity, it feels and looks like a water balloon. It's very heavy. My vagina sticks to my leg when I sit. I was just wondering if the binder I was wearing pushed the fluid down to my upper thighs. If so, is there anything I can do to get rid of this. I am so uncomfortable, and I think my transplant surgeon has done all that he can do. I was concerned that when the mesh came out, my legs and vagina wouldn't resolve itself, although my abdomen is pretty much back to normal (I think due to the removal of all the loose skin from the ascites early on). How can I know if there is fluid in there, if it's in the tissues, etc. I truly do not believe it is fat, because this all happened suddenly, and the rest of my body is of average size. And I don't think I would gain fat in my vagina! So it is the vagina and upper inner thighs that I am worried about. Any suggestions? Thanks!
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Beth: Your problem sounds very involved. I would not even venture to guess what is happening in your situation. My best suggestion is to go visit a Plastic surgeon so he can examine you. We could do a virtual consultation here, but that would only be an overview of your options because to make any real decisions, a case like yours really has to be evaluated in person. Call Kelly at for more info.
  • leigh says:

    how do you care for a tummy tuck incision, during the summer. does the sun penetrate bathing suits , will the suns rays cause the incision to become darker or turn white? what is best as far as ointments go to apply to the area as it heals. mine is 3 months old. my surgeon said just to use regular lotion, .also i am taking yoga now, is it OK to stretch abdomen muscles when they feel tight? will it loosen them , thank you..
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Leigh: You can tan under a bathing suit. I used to be a swimmer, so I know about tanning under a bathing suit. You should wear a sunscreen over the scar otherwise the scar will turn dark. Otherwise, all these questions you should be really talking them over with your surgeon. He knows the details of his surgery best, and it would not be appropriate for me to comment. Enjoy your summer with your new body!
  • leigh says:

    I had a tummy tuck 1/26/10, I have noticed a 10 pound weight gain, I amhave exorcizing and eating right, and not lost 1 pound. My upper thigh size is larger, and my back seems to have gained fat .. I drink 64 oz. of h2o a day, walf 45-60 mins. 4-5 times a week, and just started Yoga. this weight is not moving! questions: after a tummy tuck, does fat collect else where like the back, thighs,arms. could i still be retaining fluid 3 months later? I used a waist binder, is the fluid that is in my thighs permanent?
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Leigh: After any body contouring procedure, there is fat redistribution throughout the body. As for the effects of diet, surgery, and exercise, read this blogpost. Remember, weight is a function of calories in/calories out. You may need to start a calorie count of your food intake to see where you stand. Hope this helps!
  • Rosie Hernandez says:

    i had a tummy tuck/lipo to back and flanks 3wks ago, i just wanted to know how long to expect swelling, i notice the swelling above incision i wear my binder qd just wanted a ball park figure thanks
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Rosie: The amount of postoperative swelling depends not only on surgeon technique, but on individual patient healing rates. The only person fit to answer this question is your surgeon, because he knows what technique he used and has a good ballpark idea of how long his patients take to heal. Secondly, he can look at you directly and form a judgement as to how far along the process you are. Don't be afraid to call your doctor for any questions or concerns. You paid him a lot of money not for a professional service, not just surgery, and you should expect him to answer your questions. I always give my patients my cell phone number so they can reach me at all times, that keeps it simple and direct.
  • Em says:

    I had a tummy tuck with body contouring. I am 25 days out and I continue to develop fluid. Once a week the PS will asperate the fluid with a needle. The problem is... I am accummulating fluid right after he asperates me and I have to wait an entire week until the next removal of fluid. I have been complaing about major back pain and upper thigh pain. My regular doctor and Physical Therapist said the pain is from fluid accumulation. The fluid is causing pressure to my spine. Can fluid cause this type of pain in my back and leg? Please help me. I would truly prefer the doctor put in a drain so that I don't have such an accumulation by the time I go back to him on my weekly visit. Please let me know your suggestion.
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      It is really hard to make judgements about a surgery performed by somebody else, without having examined you, etc. I would suggest you call your doctor's office tomorrow and tell them your concerns and let them know you are upset. If you are dissatisfied with his answer, your next option is to get a second opinion in person. Whatever you do, do not take advice online, as the doctor cannot be aware of all the details necessary to give you the best advice. Good luck and let us know what happens!
  • Valerie says:

    I've had tummy tuck /liposuction pre tuck (by another surgeon) and was placed on drains which was inserted for 3 days. I now have an ifection in the center of the wound which is not healed. I have accumilation of fluid which one day when I pressed my tummy came pouring out from the unhealed section. About 5 minutes later all that fluid has build up again. I am currently on co-amoxiclav 500/125mg and metrodadole 400mg. I would like to know if this fluid build -up after 3 weeks of the op. When I sit it the fluid seems to be pushed up forming a bulge until I stand for about 2 minutes where it will even up again. Do I have cause to worrry? I know the swelling will take some time to go down, but it's this fluid that leaks out that is my concern. I would like to add that I do wear the medical grade compression garment with the straps. I only took it off once to wash it then back on it went. Any advice you can give me please?
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      You really need to contact your surgeon to handle this. You have had a complication, which is not unusual, but now you need to be under close supervision. This is not a problem to troubleshoot over the internet. You really need to see your doctor and ask him questions until you are satisfied you know what's going on. Above all, don't take advice over the internet for a problem that needs to be handled in person. Go see your doctor or his nurse in person today.
  • kathleen says:

    I just had a tummy ;tuck two weeks ago.. I have been wearing the compression wrap the doctor gave me but after reading what you suggest, I would like to get the medical grade compression garments. Can you tell me where I can get them and the cost. When I touch my stomack it feels like fluid running from side to side. Help thanks
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      It sounds like you may have a seroma, or fluid collection. Call your doctor and tell him you think you have fluid. You need to do this as soon as possible.