One common question tummy tuck patients ask is “How long will the swelling last post surgery?” This procedure removes excess skin and fat from the abdominal area (stomach) and will cause swelling for a period of time afterwards, which is normal. Of course every body heals at a different rate hence the swelling will resolve at different rates too. In this blog I’ll discuss the factors that contribute to the swelling and give you an idea of how long it may take for the swelling to go down.
In general, most patients notice a significant improvement within 12 weeks. The swelling will continue to improve for up to 12 months, with the area directly above the incision line remaining slightly swollen.
Swelling following tummy tuck is due to many factors. When a tummy tuck is performed the skin of the abdomen is lifted, then pulled down, and the excess skin is removed. This disrupts some of the lymphatic drainage temporarily. The chemical mediators released by the body in response to surgery – together with temporary disruption of lymphatic drainage – causes the swelling. Post-surgical binders or compression garments can assist with the removal of fluid until new lymphatic vessel connections form. Post operative drains are also inserted to drain the fluid and help avoid seroma. Seroma, is a build up of fluid in the area where the surgery was performed due to lymphatic vessels being damaged or bruised during the procedure.
For a few weeks after surgery the lower abdomen may appear bloated. This is because a common side effect of pain management medication is bloating and constipation.
The amount of swelling, and how long it lasts, is determined on a case-by-case basis. These time periods mentioned are general time frames and it depends on each individuals circumstances and healing as to how long their tummy tuck swelling will last. The degree of the swelling also depends on things such as whether or not liposuction was included in the procedure, the amount of salt in their diet (which causes fluid retention), how often the compression garment was worn, and how much physical activity they engaged in after the surgery. If you’re thinking about having a tummy tuck it’s best to discuss with your plastic surgeon in what time frame you can expect swelling to disappear.
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