Cosmetic Surgery Tips

Hip Swelling After Tummy Tuck

Hip swelling after tummy tuck is a common side effect of tummy tuck surgery. The most likely cause of hip swelling after tummy tuck is an accumulation of fluid in the tissues surrounding your hips and buttocks, which can happen if you have an infection or inflammation. This fluid build-up is called seroma, and it’s usually harmless. But if you don’t treat it right away, it can lead to scarring and even deformity.

If you have hip swelling after tummy tuck surgery, it’s important to go see your doctor as soon as possible so that they can treat any underlying causes. Typically, this will involve draining the fluid from around your hips using sterile needles and then placing stitches over the area to prevent further leakage. Your doctor will also give you instructions on how long to wear protective garments such as an Ace bandage or compression garments (which look like tight Spanx).

Read on to learn more about Hip Swelling After Tummy Tuck, Compression Garments Control Post Op swelling and Fluid accumulation after a Tummy tuck

Hip Swelling After Tummy Tuck

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 be a common occurrence early on in the postoperative period. This is due to the body entering the acute healing phase and producing a significant amount of fluid. Additionally, the tissues that are cut during surgery can also lead to leakage of fluid. The lymphatic channels, which are responsible for draining fluid from the body, may be cut or interrupted during the surgical procedure, further impeding normal drainage processes.

As plastic surgeons anticipate this fluid accumulation after surgery, they typically utilize drains during the postoperative period to help facilitate proper drainage. These drains are designed to remove excess fluid from the surgical site, reducing the risk of complications and promoting optimal healing.

Products such as drainage bulbs and bags can be helpful in managing fluid accumulation postoperatively. These items are designed to efficiently collect and remove fluid, providing patients with comfort and aiding in the healing process. Here are some popular products related to postoperative fluid management available on Amazon:

Drainage BulbA disposable bulb used to collect and remove excess fluid from the surgical site$10.99
Drainage BagA versatile bag that can be attached to drains to collect and store fluid$15.99
Compression GarmentsGently compress the surgical site to prevent fluid accumulation and promote healing$29.99

It is important for patients to follow their plastic surgeon’s instructions regarding drain care and management of fluid accumulation postoperatively. By utilizing proper drainage techniques and products, patients can experience a smoother recovery process and achieve optimal results from their surgical procedure.

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

In the world of cosmetic surgery, controlling swelling is a crucial aspect of ensuring successful and quick recovery for patients undergoing procedures such as tummy tucks. Proper surgical planning plays a significant role in this process, as the amount of tissue separation during the surgery can directly impact the level of swelling post-operation. As described in the Lockwood technique of tummy tucks, it is recommended to separate as few tissues as possible to minimize the potential for fluid accumulation, tissue leakage, and to promote faster healing.

The Lockwood technique, favored by many plastic surgeons for its efficiency in controlling swelling, involves separating less tissue compared to the standard technique. By reducing the empty space within the tissues and preserving intact lymphatics for drainage, patients undergoing tummy tucks using this method experience less swelling overall. This approach not only enhances the aesthetic outcomes of the surgery but also contributes to a more comfortable and smooth recovery process for the patient.

After the surgery is completed, the use of compression garments becomes essential in managing swelling. These garments help to prevent fluid leakage from the tissues and exert pressure that pushes any accumulated fluid back into the drainage channels, such as drains or lymphatics. By maintaining proper compression, tissues are able to heal more efficiently, resulting in minimal swelling and a faster recovery period.

Relevant Products on Amazon for Swelling Control:

  • Compression Garments

  • Drainage Tubes

  • Lymphatic Drainage Massage Tools

  • Scar Healing Ointments

Summary of Strategies for Controlling Swelling:

Strategy Benefits
Use Lockwood Technique Reduces tissue separation and fluid accumulation
Utilize Compression Garments Prevents fluid leakage and promotes healing
Optimize Drainage Channels Ensures proper fluid removal from tissues

Overall, the key to successful swelling control in tummy tuck surgeries lies in the meticulous surgical planning and post-operative care provided to patients. By minimizing tissue separation, utilizing compression garments, and optimizing drainage pathways, plastic surgeons can help their patients achieve optimal results and swift recoveries following these procedures.

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

Nerve pain in leg after tummy tuck

Typically, there is a certain degree of pain or discomfort you can expect following surgery. Surgical procedures are traumatic for the human body, and pain may be attributed to your body trying to heal injured tissues. In some instances, however, nerve pain develops afterward and this isn’t the same kind of pain you should probably expect.

As we’ve noted throughout our website, nerve pain is often marked by symptoms like burning, shooting, stabbing, and searing pain. For some patients, external stimulation—even at low levels (like wind blowing over skin or water coming down from a showerhead)—causes intense physical sensations. Others experience “pins and needles” or feel as though a specific body part or region has been plugged into an electrical outlet.

If you have those kinds of symptoms, the pain is likely caused by a nerve issue of some kind.

In some cases, these symptoms begin after procedures like C-sections (cesarean section deliveries) and tummy tucks. When they do, it’s understandable for patients to wonder why this is happening to them. So, let’s look today at why you are having nerve pain after those kinds of procedures.

To start, it is worth noting that nerve pain does not imply that anything was done incorrectly during the surgery. Surgeons, by very definition of their job, have to cut tissues to repair medical problems. Your body has an entire network of nerves running throughout, so this means there are times when nerves will also be cut during surgery. It’s just a fact.

Nerve Pain after C-section

As with other surgical procedures, it is virtually impossible to perform a C-section without cutting into some nerves. That said, long-term nerve injury after a C-section tends to be somewhat rare.

Often, nerves will heal without causing any lasting issues. When injured nerves do not heal correctly, it is considered to be nerve damage. Depending on which nerves are damaged—and their respective functions—there are various short-term and long-term symptoms that can develop. These symptoms can include impaired motor function and nerve pain.

If you have had a C-section and are experiencing a superficial pain around the edges of the scar, it is likely the ilioinguinal, iliohypogastric, and/or genitofemoral nerves have been affected. Usually, the pain presents as a burning pain and hypersensitivity – which means even light touch hurts (like in the earlier examples of wind and water). There may also be “electric shock” sensations.

If pushing on the affected area does not reproduce the pain, those specific nerves are less likely to be responsible.

The reason for noting the ilioinguinal, iliohypogastric, and genitofemoral nerves comes down to their locations. Surgeons do attempt to avoid important nerves as much as possible, but these ones run close to the edge of a C-section incision. This makes it easy for them to be injured during the procedure (bruised, crushed, etc.) or trapped in scar tissue afterward.

If you are having painful sensations, it is more likely the nerves were injured, instead of being cut. We can say this because cut nerves tend to produce numbness instead of pain. Although, there are times when both numbness and pain result from cut nerves (which is a condition called anesthesia dolorosa).

When diagnosing your nerve pain after a C-section, we use a nerve block. This is a matter of using anesthetic to cause temporary numbness for the affected nerve. When there is both numbness and pain relief, it indicates a peripheral nerve injury. If there is numbness without pain relief, something else is likely at play.

Nerve Pain after Tummy Tuck

Tummy tucks—abdominoplasties—are some of the most common cosmetic procedures performed in the United States, with the American Society of Plastic Surgeons reporting 127,633 in 2016. This is a 104% increase from the 62,713 performed in 2000.

Experts believe the number of abdominoplasties will only increase due to both the number of esthetic surgical procedures and increase in how many obese patients achieve massive weight loss following bariatric surgery.

As with other surgeries, nerves to the affected area are traumatized from a tummy tuck. This can cause numbness for several weeks to months before the nerves overcome temporary neuropraxia (loss of nerve conduction). Usually, it only takes around 6-12 weeks for the situation to resolve, but there are cases wherein this may take longer.

Whereas this numbness and a certain degree of discomfort can be expected, it can be a problem when nerve pain has developed and is not going away after a reasonable amount of time.

In the case of nerve pain following a tummy tuck, it is probably a small nerve called the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve that is affected. This particular nerve travels directly through the areas manipulated during a tummy tuck and could easily be injured directly by a suture or scalpel, or indirectly when the nerve becomes entrapped in scar tissue.

That said, it is important to note that factors other than nerve damage could be responsible for pain and sensory abnormalities. For example, massive weight loss can cause extreme skin expansion and a patient who had undergone bariatric surgery may also have had other issues (secondary fibrosis, hernia) corrected during the tummy tuck.

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