How Long Does Swelling Last After Tummy Tuck Surgery ?
Dr. Behmand answers one of our patients most frequently asked questions following tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty surgery .
During the first 4-6 weeks following surgery, patients will experience the most amount of swelling after a tummy tuck. After that, there is gradual and significant improvement. However, for the first 6 -12 months following surgery, you can expect some degree of swelling. You will notice the gradual improvement during this recovery period as your results continue to become more defined.
Abdominoplasty or tummy tuck surgery is different from other abdominal procedures, like a caesarean section, where an incision is made to allow access to the inner part of the abdomen. With an abdominoplasty, the inside part of the abdomen is never accessed. The surgery involves the area just below the skin and fatty tissue. In this area, there are two types of fluid drainage systems. The one most familiar is the blood vessel system. The lymphatic vessels are another drainage system that allows fluid to drain, which may not have been removed by the blood vessels. Both the blood vessels and lymphatic system in the lower part of the abdomen are cut during a tummy tuck. This leaves only the upward direction for fluid to be removed from the surgical area until new vessels form in the lower abdominal area.
Within the first two months following surgery, the initial swelling of the abdomen tends to resolve. But, some swelling will persist anywhere from 6 months to a year with most patients. This longer term, minor swelling tends to be affected by gravity. Long hours of standing can make this more pronounced and laying down at night helps to improve it. Exercising during the first few months after surgery also tends to make the swelling worse, but often resolves a bit more quickly.
To help with the swelling process after tummy tuck surgery, a compression binder is worn across the abdomen and incision to limit the amount of swelling fluid in this surgical area. In the mid-range of swelling, after about 6 weeks from surgery, most patients are discharged from wearing the supportive binder and exercise can be introduced. This is where patients see the increased swelling that can be more noticeable in the latter part of the day than in the morning. Patients should avoid wearing tight belts, which can compromise the upward flow of fluid in the mid-section.
After about a year, or sometimes longer in patients, the fluctuation in swelling is no longer experienced as a result from new lymphatic and blood vessel having formed.
Have you thought about tummy tuck surgery and are ready to schedule a consultation with Dr. Behmand to be evaluated for surgery? You can reach our office to secure an appointment by calling (925)939-9200. We look forward to meeting you soon!