When it comes to a tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, many of the most commonly asked questions focus on swelling. What is normal? When should I be concerned? When will the swelling go away and let me see my final results? Unfortunately, the answer isn’t always an easy one because every person is different, and swelling is influenced by many different factors.
Swelling Is Normal and Expected
First, you need to know that swelling is normal and expected after a tummy tuck. To better understand this, let’s look at how your body works. Your body is made of mostly water and fluid is constantly expelled from tissue. Your lymphatic vessels work as a drainage system and collect this fluid. However, during a tummy tuck, the surgeon must cut through many of these lymphatic vessels in the abdominal area. Luckily, your body rebuilds the lymphatic vessels, but this takes time. During that time, fluid can accumulate, resulting in swelling.
Initial Swelling Diminishes Within the First Couple Months
Every person is different when it comes to healing, so there is no way to predict exactly how much swelling you will have or how long it will last. In general, swelling after a tummy tuck procedure typically lasts up to 6 to 12 weeks, though minimal swelling can be present for up to a year.
You may hear about drainless or drain-free tummy tucks, but most plastic surgeons still prefer a surgical method that will require the use of drains for a short time after surgery. You will receive detailed information from your surgeon about how to care for the drains, and you’ll return at a follow-up appointment to have them removed.
Additional Procedures Can Increase Swelling Time
While swelling occurs with a tummy tuck, adding additional procedures, such as liposuction, can further increase the trauma to the body, thus resulting in additional swelling. If you have additional procedures with your tummy tuck, such as a mommy makeover, you can expect to have additional swelling that can last longer.
Before your tummy tuck, it is important that you understand that swelling is a natural part of the healing process.
Scot A. Martin, M.D. is a board-certified plastic surgeon serving El Paso, Las Cruces and communities throughout New Mexico and West Texas. He focuses his practice on breast enhancement and body contouring plastic surgery procedures.