Swelling After Tummy Tuck Surgery: How Long Does It Last?

The abdomen is where the most attention is placed when one wants to evaluate the state of physical fitness. A flat stomach, and possibly even a sculpted one, is often the target of those who engage in the gym or any form of physical activity daily. So much so that those who manage to reach the arduous goal do not hesitate to show it in the various forms of socialization in vogue, in which the image has a predominant role.

In this context, we understand, for example, why there is a widespread rush to remedy the effects of the single event that most “endangers” the idea of ​​a flat abdomen: pregnancy. The concern is so strong that it is not unusual to even receive requests for future operations (typically abdominoplasty) from women who are still pregnant. And since you want to get back in shape quickly afterward, one of the most frequently asked questions by those who request this surgery is how long the swelling lasts after the tummy tuck.

Abdominoplasty: What Is It And For Whom?

When an abdomen protrudes, not so much due to an excess of fat as due to a relaxation of the muscles combined with a redundancy of the skin, the corrective intervention to which we must refer is abdominoplasty. Simplified, this surgery aims to lift the abdominal skin layer so that the excess skin can be stretched and removed. Contextually the muscle wall, normally damaged by pregnancy, can be repaired to restore a flat profile to the belly.  This intervention is typical in two categories of patients:

  1. Post-pregnancy women, especially when they have managed to limit the extra pounds during the 9 months.
  2. After significantly reducing excess weight (30-40 kg or more), women and men. For a clear change in one’s lifestyle or following bariatric surgery aimed at reducing the absorption of ingested food. This crucial change must then be adequately maintained with a certain commitment. To maintain the objectives achieved. 

Why Does Swelling Occur?

Our body responds to any physical trauma by generating swelling. Very roughly, in the traumatized area, there are lesions of the blood and lymphatic microcirculation, which cause extravasation of liquids between the cells, thus determining what we macroscopically evaluate as swelling. Surgery is certainly a type of physical trauma. And therefore, any surgery brings a share of swelling in the area where the operation occurred. Of course, abdominoplasty is no exception to this.

How Does It Manifest Itself?

  1. Swelling following abdominoplasty is initially present throughout the abdomen and beyond. It commonly extends to the surrounding areas: hips, pubic region, and upper thighs.
  2. Macroscopically it is as if the tissues were thicker. In reality, as we have seen, they are imbued with excess fluids that accumulate between the cells.
  3. The swelling is perceived to the touch and has a soft consistency that becomes more compact after a few days.

How Long Does The Swelling Last After A Tummy Tuck?

The timing of the complete resolution of the post-abdominoplasty swelling takes place in a few months, which can vary between 6 and 12. Therefore, we can only say that we have achieved the final result. Therefore we are talking about a fairly slow but progressive physiological process. Fastest in the first 6-8 weeks. To continue more slowly in the following months.

The first areas where swelling absorption is noticed are the upper abdomen and the adjacent regions I mentioned above: hips, pubis, and thighs. The part that takes the longest to settle down is the lower abdomen region, between the navel and the surgical scar. This is the area that finally shows us its final and definitive aspect. And therefore, it is where patients tend to place their concerns the most in the first months, anxious to see the final result in its entirety.

How To Speed Up Its Reabsorption

A passive approach is the least helpful in the postoperative period, even more in an intervention of this magnitude. If resorption is allowed to occur spontaneously, one will inevitably also have to be more patient. Therefore, I always suggest facilitating normal physiological processes so that post-tummy tuck swelling lasts as little as possible. I would say that, in this regard, we should focus on two aspects in particular:

  1. Lymphatic drainage massages. Recommended starting two weeks post-surgery, after the stitches have been removed.
  2. Activation and strengthening of blood and lymphatic microcirculation through targeted progressive physical activity :
  3. Starting with walks from the very first days, intensifying their duration.
  4. After 4-6 weeks, more intense aerobic activity is allowed, running or cycling.
  5. After 8 weeks, it is advisable to start instead with regular exercises focused on strengthening the abdominal and hip muscles, together with the aerobic activity that must continue.


It can positively influence how long the swelling after abdominoplasty lasts. That said, the fact remains that it is a physiological process that takes months to resolve fully.

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