Cosmetic Surgery Tips

Lump In Upper Abdomen After Tummy Tuck

You should experience some discomfort or swelling in the upper abdomen after your tummy tuck procedure. This is most likely due to swelling that may be present following surgery, but it can also be related to the hardening of your abdominal muscles. Although this lump will often go away on its own, if it interferes with your daily activities or becomes bothersome at any point you should contact your doctor for advice.

Lump In Upper Abdomen After Tummy Tuck

Dear Anonymous,

There are a handful of possible sources of the “bulging” that you describe.  A pseudobursa is one possible source.  If a pseudobursa is present its removal will take care of the bulging.  Removal of a pseudobursa above the belly button will require a full tummy tuck revision.  During the tummy tuck revision any additional sources of upper abdominal bulging such as abdominal wall laxity can also be corrected.  At two months I would continue to wear your abdominal binder and await further healing.

Dr. Repta,

My Tummy Tuck was a year and a half ago. I began to have upper abdominal buldging shortly after surgery that has never gone away. It gets worse as the day goes on. It looks like I have a tire around my upper belly, it’s completely embarassing and uncomfortable. Below my belly button is flat, but then where my incision is, my belly goes from flat to concave.

2 months ago, my PS did liposuction on the upper part of my belly. It looked great for about 2 weeks, now it’s back to the upper abdominal bulding.

I can feel a hard lump right above my belly button, this started after the lipo procedure. 

Is it possible that the bulding issue could be a pseudobura? Or is the upper abdominal bulding going to be there forever…

What Happens to the Belly Button During a Tummy Tuck?

So, you’ve decided to get a tummy tuck.

But you still have some questions about the procedure — including about what happens to your belly button after a tummy tuckTrusted Source.

Many people wonder this exact thing, as a botched belly button can make the tummy tuck not worth it at all. Rest assured that in most cases, the belly button won’t be altered or moved, instead the skin and muscle around it will be tightened.

If you opt for a mini tummy tuck, the whole procedure will take place below the belly button, which is a good option for those who are just concerned about a small pooch in the lower belly.

Tummy tucks and the belly button

During the tummy tuck procedure, an incision will be made in the low abdomen through which fat and stretched skin will be removed, and any loose muscles will be sewn together. Another incision will usually be made around the belly button.

The remaining upper skin is lifted up as high as the rib cage and pulled down like a window shade to the lower skin near the pubic bone. The skin is now stretched tight and the surgeon then chooses the new ideal position to place the stalk of the belly button.

Your belly button is actually attached to the muscles below. During the procedure, it’ll stay attached to its “stalk.” In most cases, the surgeon will create a new opening for the belly buttonTrusted Source, especially if its shape has become distorted after weight gain or pregnancy.

If this isn’t done well, the belly button may end up looking distorted — either too flat, too deep, or the wrong shape. So, it’s important to ask your surgeon to see their portfolio and ask about their ideas for your naval.

If you’re healed from a tummy tuck and still dissatisfied with your belly button, you may consider an umbilicoplasty, which is a surgery to change the appearance of the belly button.

Before and after pictures

It can be helpful to see before and after photos of the belly button after a tummy tuck when deciding if the procedure is right for you. Check out the gallery of real patients below:

Healing after surgery

The recovery timeline after your tummy tuck will vary depending on several factors including your age, weight, and general health.

You may or may not have to spend the night in the hospital. Your drainage tubes, which pull fluid away from the abdomen, will likely remain in place for several days.

You’ll also need to wear an abdominal binder for about 6 weeks. This is basically a very tight band around the belly that supports the tummy and helps to avoid fluid buildup.

It’s especially important that you wear your binder and avoid strenuous activity so the belly button heals properly.

Post-surgery care 

Your doctor should give instructions on how to care for your belly button after a tummy tuck. This may include cleaning the area with warm water or a saltwater solution.

It’s normal for the area to look swollen and even a bit crusty after surgery, and it may take as long as 6 months for the belly button to heal.

Breast Lift, Plastic Surgeon Orange County

How To Avoid a Muffin Top After Tummy Tuck

A “muffin top” refers to the protuberance of the upper abdomen which results in a protrusion (bulging outward) of the upper abdomen and concave (curving inward) lower abdomen. This contrasts to the more desirable “ideal” abdominal shape characterized by a concave upper abdomen and gentle convexity of the lower abdomen. Below is an example of a patient who underwent a tummy tuck with muscle repair by another surgeon. As you can see in the picture, her surgery resulted in a less than desirable “muffin top” appearance. 

Tummy Tuck Muffin Top Orange County

What Causes This Complication?

The question that patients consulting me for a revision tummy tuck routinely ask me is why did this happen?

To understand how this complication occurs, we have to review the anatomy and surgical maneuvers used during tummy tuck surgery. After lifting the skin of the muscles, surgeons repair them by plicating the muscles in the middle like a corset. Plicating just translates to “tightening”.  This vertical tightening of the muscles is performed both above and below the belly button.

If one tightens the muscles above the belly button less than the muscles below, it can create a muffin top. Optimally, your surgeon should tighten the muscles above the belly button just slightly more than the muscles below the belly button in order to provide you the desirable concave upper abdomen and slightly convex lower abdomen.

Tummy Tuck in Orange County

Another possible cause of the muffin top after a tummy tuck can occur despite appropriately placed tension of the repaired muscles. Thinned out muscles and their lining causes this muffin top deformity in some patients. This occurs following muscle tightening if the increased tension makes the muscle and lining stretch out again. The medical terminology for thinned out muscles is muscle attenuation. Unfortunately, it is not possible to tell if your muscle repair will hold until after your surgery.

Tummy Tuck Revision to Repair a “Muffin Top”

We can fix a “muffin top” in two ways. If improper muscle tightening by the previous surgeon is the cause, then a revision tummy tuck will require resetting the proper tension so that the upper muscles are tightened slightly more than the bottom muscles. If the muffin top resulted from muscle attenuation, then you will require a Tri-Modality repair, which will not only tighten/repair but also reinforce your entire abdominal musculature, thereby eliminating the potential for further muscle stretch.   

Tummy Tuck Procedure Newport Beach

Pictured above, a 48-year-old mom with identified muscle attenuation who underwent the comprehensive Tri-Modality repair during her tummy tuck to avoid a post-operative “muffin top” deformity.

Are You Considering A Revision Tummy Tuck?

Are you unhappy with your results or struggling with a “muffin top” or other complications following a tummy tuck surgery? Contact Dr. Mowlavi for a free consultation to see how you can improve your results and achieve a flat, beautiful stomach. For your convenience, we have offices in Newport and Laguna Beach, CA.

WHAT WILL YOUR BELLY BUTTON LOOK LIKE AFTER A TUMMY TUCK?

6 Things You Should Do For Your Tummy Tuck Scars and Treatment

When excess skin and fat become a problem on the abdomen, a tummy tuck can deliver a smoother, tauter profile. The procedure is relatively quick, and recovery is short, making the tummy tuck one of the most sought-after surgeries at Sieber Plastic Surgery.

Still, one question that we often receive from patients before their tummy tuck procedure is, “What will my belly button look like after surgery?”

If this is a concern you’ve had, we’d like to quell any worries you’ve had right away: Your belly button will essentially look the same after your tummy tuck surgery — or better! Let’s take a look at the tummy tuck procedure a bit more and examine how it will affect your belly button in particular.

WHAT IS A TUMMY TUCK?

A tummy tuck is meant to remove excess fat and skin from the abdominal area. The surgery involves removing extra skin (and fat, if necessary). Separated or weakened muscles can also be repaired to achieve a more toned surface.

While tummy tucks can contour and enhance the look of areas like your hips and thighs as well, tummy tucks mostly focus on the abdomen. The procedure is beneficial to many different types of people. One of the most common reasons to get a tummy tuck is simply the desire to get rid of extra skin on the lower abdomen. Excess skin often accumulates simply as a result of time and gravity. As we age, everything on our bodies naturally moves downward. Gravity doesn’t help.

Additionally, if you’re weight has fluctuated throughout your lifetime or you’re a woman who’s gone through natural childbirth, you may experience even more excess skin on the abdomen. This skin often congregates around the belly button area, creating somewhat of a hood over the top of the navel. It can also create folds and ripples that are uncomfortable and may make you feel self-conscious, especially when wearing tight fitting clothing or a bathing suit.

Finally, tummy tucks are quite common among individuals who have undergone extreme weight loss. If you’ve lost a significant amount of weight, you will likely experience sagging skin on the abdomen and elsewhere. Tummy tucks can take care of this skin. Your surgeon will cut off any excess and reposition and contour the remaining skin (and sometimes the belly button) to create a more natural, contoured, and attractive result. In some cases, stretch marks can even be removed.

HOW DOES A TUMMY TUCK AFFECT THE BELLY BUTTON?

Your surgeon knows that your belly button needs to look great after surgery. A well-positioned, natural looking bellybutton is definitely part of the results you’ll see from your procedure.

As far as how the belly button is or isn’t manipulated during surgery, this will depend on several factors. That is, in many cases, your surgeon won’t need to change your belly button at all. It will not be removed. Instead, only a small incision will be made around the belly button in order for it to be released from the skin around it. This is standard practice for tummy tucks. As such, it will act as a “stalk,” staying attached to the muscle beneath it but not actually moving its position.

If this is the case, the navel will ultimately be left in the same spot, and it will look the same after your surgery. Only the skin around your navel will be moved and repositioned. This is usually what happens for tummy tucks that don’t require too much fat and skin removal and few changes to the underlying muscles.

In some cases, however, it is possible that your belly button will need to be ultimately repositioned in relationship to your abdominal skin in order to help your abdominal profile look more natural. During your surgery, then, your surgeon will likely redrape the skin around and over your navel, then create a new opening within the skin where your belly button will go. The belly button will then be carefully reattached for a natural result.

LOOKING FOR A QUALIFIED PLASTIC SURGEON WHO CAN PERFORM A TUMMY TUCK?

If you are considering a tummy tuck for yourself, remember a few pieces of advice for your surgeon search.

First, it’s important to find a board-certified plastic surgeon who. This should prove that they have the education and experience necessary to carry out your procedure with skill and achieve the quality results you’re looking for.

Of course, while it is definitely critical to look for a board-certified surgeon, there are other things to be on the lookout for as well. Most importantly, you should look at the surgeon’s past work. Most plastic surgeons have a space on their website devoted to before and after photos. When you go to a surgeon’s website, navigate to this page, and look specifically for before and after photos of tummy tuck procedures.

Do you like what you see? Do you see any before photos that look similar to your current shape and the specific challenges you face? Are you happy with the results those individuals achieved? You shouldn’t be able to see too much scarring, and the overall contouring of the abdomen should be smooth and taught without looking unnatural.

Finally, read some reviews from past patients. It’s good to know that your surgeon will have a nice bedside manner and that they will take the time needed to explain the surgery to you, including what to expect before, during, and after —when you are in recovery. Of course, you’ll also be able to gauge some of these things are your consultation appointment.

Your consultation appointment is the first appointment you’ll have with your plastic surgeon. At this meeting, your surgeon will take a look at your anatomy and probably mark up your skin a bit as they explore your options for tummy tuck surgery. Your surgeon will also review your medical history and make sure you’re a good candidate for the procedure. Finally, you’ll get to ask any questions you may have, and if you decide to move forward, you should be able to schedule your surgery right away.

pain in upper abdomen after tummy tuck

The Tummy tuck, or Abdominoplasty, is a great ‘mommy makeover’ postpartum, or an excellent solution for loose skin in both men and women following significant weight loss. Aside from the obvious aesthetic rewards, it can also help repair damage to lower stomach muscles, restore other abdominal functions and ease persistent back pain. Of course, as with any surgery, there is a lengthy list of risks and complications that you need to be aware of before going under the surgeons knife. Here, we’ve put together some sound information and advice about what to look out for post-procedure, to help you and your specialist surgeon manage and identify any problems that may come up during recovery.

Developing an exhaustive list of the potential complications of any surgery is problematic and here’s why: Each surgery, as well as each patient, is unique. Let us clarify this for you: If a surgeon tells you that there are never complications with their procedures, whether it’s a tummy tuck or any other surgery, they are either lying or, at the very least, incredibly inexperienced. Either way, choosing a surgeon who doesn’t completely understand the risks of the procedure himself could spell disaster for you and, in the worst case scenario, could even be deadly. This type of disinterest in a patients well being is were people run into trouble and, if this is your experience, we suggest you find an alternative specialist.

Download our short guide: “11 Important tummy tuck techniques that you need to know about”

Here’s the bottom line, complications are always a possibility and it’s up to you to choose a skilled FRACS surgeon who can handle any problem that arises and provide quality care with a great recovery plan, resulting in a positive outcome. While major complications are rare, it’s important you are informed and prepared for all eventualities related to your tummy tuck procedure. Some of the risks we discuss here are unique to abdominoplasty while others are general to all surgeries.

Serious Complications

Let’s break this down into simpler terms by starting with the most problematic of complications related to any type of surgery:

Heart problems

Heart problems, including heart attack during surgery are one of the top worries for patients and here’s why: Anesthesia and surgery have a range of effects on the cardiovascular system. BUT these days, unless there are any underlying heart conditions such as heart disease, these are very rare due to modern anesthetic techniques.

Anaesthesia

Anaesthesia can also affect how our lungs work after surgery and though lung problems can be serious, they are mostly manageable. More specifically, small areas of the lungs can collapse and, as a consequence, there is an increased risk of chest infection. This may require antibiotics and physiotherapy treatment. Thankfully, other potential lung complications are incredibly rare.

Blood clots

Blood clots in the legs with pain and swelling may occur and, rarely, part of such a clot may break off and move to the lungs, causing fatal complications. Again, these are very rare side effects but should still be discussed with your surgeon during consultation. Make a point of asking questions, such as, the relative risk according to your own personal health issues and concerns.

Manageable Complications

Next, let us walk you through some general surgery complications that are more easily managed than those mentioned above.

Allergic reactions

Allergic reactions to medications should be a priority during consultation with your surgeon pre-procedure. Obviously, it’s important for you to discuss any history of allergic reactions to medications but you also need to be aware of the signs and symptoms related to drug allergy.

Injuries to deeper structures

There is always the potential for injury to deeper structures from surgeries, such as to the nerves, blood vessels, and muscles. This will usually present as itching, tenderness, or exaggerated responses to hot or cold temperatures. Often this resolves during the healing process but, in rare cases, may be chronic and a management plan should be discussed with your surgeon as soon as possible.

Early complications

Some complications will present visually and need to be managed immediately. For instance, sutures may spontaneously poke through the skin, becoming visible or producing irritation that requires removal.

Things you can do to prevent complications

Discussing your current lifestyle with your surgeon is incredibly important and here’s why: some complications are often preventable, such as wound disruption or delayed wound healing, which are more likely to occur in patients who don’t stop smoking before their operation, as should be advised by your surgeon. Generally, if wounds are dressed daily, this heals up in a couple of months. Necrosis, or skin death, can also occur at this time but is very rare.

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Potential Problems Relating to your Tummy Tuck

Now, let’s take a look at some of the complications more specific to your tummy tuck procedure.

Abdominoplasty scar formation

Abdominoplasty scar formation around the umbilicus isn’t particularly unusual and is generally nothing to be concerned about. The scarring is very often pink but will fade to become white, soft and supple in the weeks or months after the operation. Most patients find that the wound heals quickly and that the appearance is ultimately acceptable to them. However, abnormal scarring occasionally occurs within the skin and deeper tissues and these may be unattractive and of a slightly different colour to the surrounding skin. Scars may also exhibit contour variations and “bunching” due to excess skin, or may even be asymmetrical, meaning a different appearance between the right and left side of the body. It is important to note that in some cases scars may require surgical revision or treatment, though this is no real cause for concern.

In rare cases keloid scars may form, which are thickened by an inflammatory process in the scar tissue. This occurs due to an abnormality of the patient’s healing process rather than through surgical error. In such instances, specialist cosmetic surgery provides a special silicone gel tape to wear over the incision after the operation, which will result in less-visible scars.

Tummy tuck infections

Infection after surgery is a big concern for patients in our experience but antibiotics are administered during the operation and you will be prescribed oral antibiotics to take afterwards as well, which will minimise any risk. Nevertheless, infections can occur and, should this be the case, they are treated either by oral antibiotics or, in severe cases, by admission to hospital for intravenous antibiotics and further drainage procedures. It is important to note that infections, superficial or deep, from an abdominoplasty happen in only about 1% of surgeries.

Pain from a tummy tuck

Postoperative pain is another common concern and will occur in varying degrees in each patient, from quite severe to moderate to mild on the first day. It gradually improves over the next few days and is usually well tolerated by patients if they take the painkillers prescribed. Increasing pain unresponsive to pain-killers should be brought to the attention of the surgeon as this may be an indication that complications are developing. Patients may not be able to stand fully erect for up to two weeks after the operation due to the tightness of the abdominal skin with resultant excessive pull on the surgical scar. Intermittent mild discomfort or intermittent sharp pains after the first few weeks after surgery is also common, as the swelling resolves and the nerves recover. Chronic pain, ranging from from mild aching pain to sharp nerve pain can persist for more than one year, but is very rare. While bruising and swelling is normal after the operation, this also varies from mild to severe with each patient.

Patient, Surgeon Management Plans

Finally, we’ll explain some of the most common complications, which are all minor wound related issues and easily managed between yourself and your surgeon.

For instance, bleeding and excessive bruising can indicate the potential for a haematoma developing, which is essentially a collection of blood under the skin. Though haematomas can often be treated with pressure, or needle aspirations in some instances they require removal through further surgery.

If you are considering an abdominoplasty you should also be aware that there are always rather long scars following surgery. Occasionally, a wide, thick or otherwise unfavourable, scars may be visible outside the underwear or bikini. Rare complications related to the liposuction can include injury to deeper structures such as the abdominal wall, bowel, nerves and blood vessels and some numbness in the lower abdomen will result. Sensation usually returns fully, though in rare cases some of the numbness will be permanent.

There is also the potential for a seroma to develop after surgery but this will often dissipate over time. A seroma is a collection of serous fluid, a liquid that your body makes to heal and seal wounds edges together. Generally the fluid naturally drains away, however, in some cases there may be too much fluid produced in the seroma, which will usually occur at the site of incision, and it may not drain away completely but calcify instead. In this case surgery may be necessary, so make sure you bring any prolonged or unusual swelling to the immediate attention of your specialist, so it can be properly monitored.

Surgical drains (tubing) are rarely required for a tummy tuck these days but on occasion, for example in the treatment of haematoma or seroma, they may be necessary and these tubes may protrude from or near my horizontal incision for up to one week.

Recovery Success

A tummy tuck is not a simple surgery and recovery can take time. Knowing the complications, risks and side effects discussed here may seem scary but the intent is to inform and prepare you for this big change in your life. We believe that knowledge is power and information is key. Being aware of potential risks as a result of any surgery could be life saving information.

The bottom line is that discussing these topics freely with your surgeon will allow you to better understand how they plan to manage any problems that may occur. If you feel your surgeon is not fully prepared for any eventuality, then this is an indication that your investment would be better spent elsewhere and your health and wellness placed in the hands of someone more capable.

how to get rid of upper belly bulge after tummy tuck

A “muffin top” refers to the protuberance of the upper abdomen which results in a protrusion (bulging outward) of the upper abdomen and concave (curving inward) lower abdomen. This contrasts to the more desirable “ideal” abdominal shape characterized by a concave upper abdomen and gentle convexity of the lower abdomen. Below is an example of a patient who underwent a tummy tuck with muscle repair by another surgeon. As you can see in the picture, her surgery resulted in a less than desirable “muffin top” appearance.

What Causes This Complication?

The question that patients consulting me for a revision tummy tuck routinely ask me is why did this happen?

To understand how this complication occurs, we have to review the anatomy and surgical maneuvers used during tummy tuck surgery. After lifting the skin of the muscles, surgeons repair them by plicating the muscles in the middle like a corset. Plicating just translates to “tightening”. This vertical tightening of the muscles is performed both above and below the belly button.

If one tightens the muscles above the belly button less than the muscles below, it can create a muffin top. Optimally, your surgeon should tighten the muscles above the belly button just slightly more than the muscles below the belly button in order to provide you the desirable concave upper abdomen and slightly convex lower abdomen.

Another possible cause of the muffin top after a tummy tuck can occur despite appropriately placed tension of the repaired muscles. Thinned out muscles and their lining causes this muffin top deformity in some patients. This occurs following muscle tightening if the increased tension makes the muscle and lining stretch out again. The medical terminology for thinned out muscles is muscle attenuation. Unfortunately, it is not possible to tell if your muscle repair will hold until after your surgery.

Tummy Tuck Revision to Repair a “Muffin Top”

We can fix a “muffin top” in two ways. If improper muscle tightening by the previous surgeon is the cause, then a revision tummy tuck will require resetting the proper tension so that the upper muscles are tightened slightly more than the bottom muscles. If the muffin top resulted from muscle attenuation, then you will require a Tri-Modality repair, which will not only tighten/repair but also reinforce your entire abdominal musculature, thereby eliminating the potential for further muscle stretch.

Pictured above, a 48-year-old mom with identified muscle attenuation who underwent the comprehensive Tri-Modality repair during her tummy tuck to avoid a post-operative “muffin top” deformity.

Are You Considering A Revision Tummy Tuck?

Are you unhappy with your results or struggling with a “muffin top” or other complications following a tummy tuck surgery? Contact Dr. Mowlavi for a free consultation to see how you can improve your results and achieve a flat, beautiful stomach. For your convenience, we have offices in Newport and Laguna Beach, CA.


pseudobursa after tummy tuck

I am 9 months post tummy tuck and lipo with swelling above my belly button. It is so frustrating to know this is still happening. At times my belly is hard, in some areas it is hard. I have been exercising since my ps said i could and now im walking too. I spent over 8000.00 for this and ended up looking like im pregnant. Below belly button flat. I have to hold my stomach in like i used to do and i shouldn’t have too after the surgery. Last appointment ps said you look fine i was laying on table and of course my tummy was flatter it only protrudes when i stand up. I left the office feeling depressed.

I am 6 months post-op with no lipo. For the last 3 weeks the upper belly swelling is so bad, I at times feel as if it’s cutting off my breath. Makes my right side hurt and into my back. At first, I looked great and the bottom part below the incision still looks good, but above the bb I poke out. Size 10 pants, size 14-16 tops. Painful and discouraging. I wondered if I have pancreatic cancer or something. Very scary

I just want to say thank you so much to everyone who has posted here and please keep this discussion going!  I am seven years post TT and some days I am in so much agony I cannot stand it.  I don’t know what to do, so depressed, so sorry I did this to myself.  SWOLLEN and SO much pain in the upper area, unbelieveable gas and gas pains, bowel problems, pain in the ribs, painful back spasms, pain all over my body, on and on.  My husband is furious with me and not very sympathetic overall.  No one to talk to makes it so difficult  Thanks again everyone…. Oh by the way, I tried to talk someone out of it last year, she ignored me and did it anyway (of course) and has the same problems and has not recovered well at all. 

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