Cosmetic Surgery Tips

Upper abdominal bulge after tummy tuck

If you’re experiencing upper abdominal bulge after tummy tuck, you’re not alone. It’s a common side effect of this procedure, and it can be managed with a few simple steps.

First, try to stay upright as much as possible during the first few weeks after your tummy tuck. You may want to use a pillow or wedge under your knees while sleeping, which will help keep your body in a more vertical position. In this guide, we review the aspects of Upper abdominal bulge after tummy tuck, upper abdomen swelling 7 weeks after tummy tuck, how do you get rid of upper abdominal bulge after tummy tuck, and lump on upper abdomen after tummy tuck.

Second, get plenty of rest—but don’t sleep on your back. Sleeping on your back actually encourages fluid retention by pressing against the diaphragm and compressing the vena cava, which reduces blood flow back to the heart and increases pressure in the abdomen.

Third, drink at least 8 glasses of water each day so that you’re well-hydrated and can flush out any excess fluid from your body. In addition to helping with swelling, this will also help prevent constipation which can cause bloating too!

tummy tuck

I called my belly “Donut,” since I could wad up all my post-baby stomach skin into something that resembled one (sans sprinkles). Despite my healthy eating habits and gym visits, I could not get that belly bulge to budge, even as my youngest hit his fifth birthday. In fact, I found that the more I worked out, the worse my stomach looked: losing weight elsewhere on my body only made my pooch more pronounced. Add to this some separated stomach muscles from three pregnancies, and I was pretty disheartened at how my mid-section looked. All this came to a head one sunny day after an especially great few weeks at the gym, when a checkout girl asked me when I was due.

tummy tuck facts

MARINA PLASTIC SURGERY

So I decided to look into a tummy tuck. While often considered a procedure for the rich and famous, tummy tucks (also known as abdominoplasties) are becoming increasingly common, with a whopping 431 percent increase in the number of procedures performed since 1997, when the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) started tracking. In fact, tummy tucks were the third most common cosmetic procedure performed in 2015, with more than 180,000 done nationwide. 

Whether it was caused by pregnancy, significant weight loss, or genetics, removing excess skin and tightening lax muscles can provide both physical and mental benefits. If you’ve been thinking about getting a tummy tuck, here are a few things I learned along the way—and a few I wish I’d known beforehand.

tummy tuck facts

MARINA PLASTIC SURGERY

1. A Tummy Tuck Won’t Make You Drop Weight
While some patients may lose a few pounds from the procedure, Elliot Hirsch, M.D., a board-certified plastic surgeon at Hirsch Plastic Surgery in Los Angeles, warns that tummy tucks should be used when a patient is already at his or her ideal weight. “Tummy tucks should not be thought of as a weight loss procedure, but rather as a contouring procedure,” he explains. Also, while tummy tucks can’t directly address stretch marks, since the abdominal skin is pulled downward, any stretch marks may be moved, lowered, or potentially removed if they are part of the lower excess skin.

tummy tuck facts

2. There Are a Few Different Types of Scars
Your scar size and location will depend on the type of abdominoplasty you need. For a traditional tummy tuck like I had, the scar will be from hip-to-hip and most doctors will do their best to ensure that the scar is hidden under the bikini line. You will also have a scar around your belly button, because it’s actually relocated (!) during the procedure.

For patients who need just a small amount of skin removal and muscle tightening, a mini tummy tuck may be an option. “A mini tummy tuck is one in which there is a very little amount of skin excess, usually below the belly button, and the incision leaves a scar a little longer than a C-section scar,” explains Luis Macias, M.D., a double board-certified plastic surgeon at Marina Plastic Surgery in Marina Del Rey, California. 

tummy tuck facts

MARINA PLASTIC SURGERY

Patients who are interested in a tummy tuck after significant weight loss or weight loss surgery can expect a large upside down T scar across the abdomen. That’s because in these types of patients, “there is horizontal skin excess as well as vertical—it extends up the midline of the abdomen,” says Macias. 

3. It Isn’t Cheap and Insurance Likely Won’t Cover It
According to the ASAPS Cosmetic Surgery National Data Bank statistics, the 2015 national average was $5,891. Typically, a tummy tuck is considered a cosmetic procedure and is not covered by insurance. If you are having a hernia repaired or if the surgery solves another medical problem (such as excess skin from massive weight loss), some insurances may (key word: may) cover a small portion of the procedure. And beyond the cost of the surgery itself, you’ll also need to be prepared to spend money on prescriptions and other pre-op and post-op medical supplies.

tummy tuck facts

MARINA PLASTIC SURGERY

4. It’s Important to Do Your Research Before Choosing a Surgeon
Finding a qualified plastic surgeon can be trickier than you’d think. First, while the terms are often used interchangeably, a plastic surgeon and a cosmetic surgeon are not the same thing. Likewise a doctor may claim to be “board-certified” by a board that isn’t recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), a recognized agency approving medical specialty boards since 1934. The ABMS only recognizes one plastic surgery board—the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). Here’s why this all matters: Legally, any licensed physician can offer “cosmetic” procedures. The doctor might be a dermatologist or gynecologist or a general practitioner, but since there is no nationally recognized cosmetic surgery medical board, any doctor could claim to be a cosmetic surgeon. Many likely have gone through some training and some may be very capable surgeons, but if they are not certified by the ABPS, they are not plastic surgeons. In addition, some surgeons are also certified by the American Board of Surgery, making them dual board-certified. Doctors may also be members of other plastic surgery related associations, academies, or societies, but these memberships should be secondary to ensuring they are ABPS-certified.

5. Don’t Freak Out if Your Surgeon Recommends Liposuction, Too
Mine did, and it was more than just an upsell. “I perform liposuction on most of my tummy tuck patients because it assists in sculpting the waist and love handle area,” explains Macias. When skin from the upper abdomen gets pulled down, it can lead to an unnatural bulge on the hips or a lack of definition. In order to get the best results, many surgeons use liposuction or fat-to-fat grafts to help them reshape and contour the area. However, liposuction is a separate procedure from the tummy tuck which means it will have its own added cost, risks, and recovery factors.

tummy tuck facts

MARINA PLASTIC SURGERY

6. You’ll Need Help at Home for the Frst Week
Most tummy tucks are out-patient surgeries, which means you’ll go home right after the procedure and will need to have someone there to help you for the first few days, if not a full week. “I would not have felt comfortable home alone,” says Crystal M., a 51-year-old mother of two and tummy tuck patient who helped prepare for her recovery by stocking her kitchen with pre-cut fruit and other comfort foods. “I needed someone to help me do everything for the first few days,” recalls Erin S., a 37-year-old mom of three who had the procedure. “I could not roll over, sit up, or grab anything further than a few inches away. I needed help standing, getting repositioned in bed, basically everything.” In addition, doctors recommend that you don’t lift anything over 10 pounds for the first four to six weeks, which can be important for mothers with young children to consider.

Watch real women share their first period stories:

7. You’ll Likely Be Bent Over at the Waist for the First Few Days (or Longer)
One result of your stomach muscles being tightened, excess skin removed, and your remaining skin pulled taut is that you’ll probably be significantly bent over for the first few days—or even weeks. I looked like the letter L for a solid two weeks. Being bent over like this for so long had a couple of consequences that I wish I had been better prepared for. First, my lower back muscles pretty much gave up on day three, and I had immense pain and back spasms whenever I walked or stood (Icy Hot/Bengay was a life-saver.) Second, I couldn’t reach anything that was above my new eye level. This meant that I couldn’t get anything from the top two shelves of my fridge. Jedi mind tricks were not enough to bring me any closer to that container of dark chocolate covered almonds taunting me from the top shelf.

This bent-over position also impacts how you sleep. You should plan on sleeping in a recliner, with a wedge pillow, or on a couch with a bunch of pillows to prop up your legs and back until you’re able to lie flat around week two. 

8. Expect Benefits Beyond the Cosmetic
True, you’ll likely feel a lot more confident in your clothes after a tummy tuck, like Crystal did. Before the tummy tuck, she says that she had chosen outfits to accommodate her stomach. “Now I can pick out clothes that I like and know I look great in them.” However, the procedure can also offer medical benefits: Some studies have suggested that tummy tucks may help with urinary incontinence, and the procedure can have a big impact on the strength and support of your body’s core. “An integral part of a tummy tuck is repairing the rectus diastasis, which is a space between the rectus muscles that naturally occurs after childbirth or a large amount of weight loss,” explain Hirsch. “For patients with a significant diastasis, repairing this can help improve their core stability and can also help with back pain and bloating.” This is something Erin found to be true after her abdominoplasty. “Now when I go to the gym and do ab work, I can actually feel my core engaging,” she says. “Prior to surgery I never felt anything happening in my abs.” 

For me, I’ll admit that the first two weeks were a physical and emotional roller coaster, but now, five weeks out, I’m already enjoying the benefits of my clothes fitting better and feeling more confident, and I’m looking forward to rediscovering my newly tightened abs. Oh, and finally reaching those dark chocolate covered almonds.

upper abdomen swelling 7 weeks after tummy tuck

Swelling after a tummy tuck, also known as an abdominoplasty, is quite typical for a surgery this extensive. How long swelling lasts after a tummy tuck depends on many different factors. Understanding why swelling occurs may help you to better prepare mentally and have more realistic expectations for your recovery and results.

Swelling after a Tummy Tuck Is Normal

Swelling in the abdominal area is perfectly normal and expected after a tummy tuck. In this area of the body, the blood vessels and lymphatic vessels work as a drainage system for fluids. During a tummy tuck, these vessels are cut. Because of this, the body removes fluid in the area a lot slower, resulting in fluid buildup known as edema or swelling.

Swelling is typically at its worst for the first 2 months following a tummy tuck, though everyone is a little bit different. As the body repairs blood and lymphatic vessels, the swelling should continue to resolve. This healing process can take up to a year or longer to complete, so it is common to see minor swelling in that time.

The amount of swelling experienced after your tummy tuck surgery can also vary depending on the treatment plan you choose. A mini tummy tuck or a drainless tummy tuck typically results in less recovery time and swelling than a traditional tummy tuck. Alternatively, adding liposuction to a tummy tuck can produce swelling in other areas of the body as well.

Swelling Can Fluctuate throughout the Day

After your initial swelling goes down, minor swelling continues and can be affected by your daily activity. This is because gravity is not your friend. For instance, long hours standing up can increase swelling in the abdomen, but this usually goes down after a good night of sleep. Once you start exercising, you may also notice increased swelling following workouts.

Tips to Help Reduce Swelling

Although swelling is a natural part of the healing process, there are some things you can do to help reduce the level of severity.

The best thing you can do to help minimize swelling is to follow your post-op instructions for tummy tuck recovery. You’ll be instructed to wear a compression garment for the first few weeks. Other tips to help reduce swelling include:

how do you get rid of upper abdominal bulge after tummy tuck


“Muffin Top” After Tummy Tuck Surgery: A Case Study


When it comes to achieving the ideal abdominal shape, many individuals consider undergoing cosmetic procedures such as a tummy tuck to improve their appearance. However, as seen in the case of one patient who underwent a tummy tuck with muscle repair by another surgeon, the results can sometimes fall short of expectations. In this particular instance, the patient ended up with a less than desirable “muffin top” appearance, characterized by a protrusion of the upper abdomen and a concave lower abdomen.


It is essential to understand the factors that can contribute to the development of a “muffin top” after tummy tuck surgery. One common reason for this outcome is inadequate muscle repair during the procedure. The abdominal muscles play a crucial role in maintaining the overall shape and appearance of the abdomen. If the muscles are not properly tightened and positioned during the surgery, it can result in a bulging upper abdomen and a concave lower abdomen, creating the dreaded “muffin top” effect.


Another factor that can contribute to a “muffin top” appearance after tummy tuck surgery is excess skin and fat in the abdominal area. This can occur if the surgeon fails to remove enough tissue during the procedure, leading to a bulging and uneven contour of the abdomen.


Popular Products on Amazon


Here are some popular products on Amazon that can help improve the appearance of the abdomen and address issues related to a “muffin top”:



  1. Tummy Control Shapewear: These compression garments can help flatten the abdomen and provide a smoother appearance under clothing.

  2. Abdominal Muscle Toning Belt: This device uses electrical stimulation to help strengthen and tone the abdominal muscles, potentially reducing the appearance of a “muffin top.”

  3. Waist Trainers: These corset-like garments can help cinch the waist and create a more defined silhouette, hiding the presence of a “muffin top.”

  4. Self-Adhesive Silicone Gel Strips: These strips can be applied to scars to help minimize their appearance after tummy tuck surgery.


Overall, it is crucial for individuals considering tummy tuck surgery to choose a qualified and experienced surgeon who can provide the desired results. Proper muscle repair, tissue removal, and post-operative care are essential factors in achieving a toned and sculpted abdominal 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.

lump on upper abdomen after tummy tuck

Swelling after a tummy tuck, also known as an abdominoplasty, is a common side effect of this extensive surgical procedure. The duration of swelling after a tummy tuck can vary depending on a number of factors, including the individual’s overall health, the extent of the surgery, and how well they follow their surgeon’s post-operative care instructions. Understanding why swelling occurs can help patients better prepare for their recovery and manage their expectations for the final results.

During a tummy tuck, excess skin and fat are removed from the abdomen, and the abdominal muscles are tightened to create a smoother, more toned appearance. This extensive surgery can result in significant trauma to the tissues in the abdominal area, leading to inflammation and swelling. The body responds to this trauma by flooding the area with fluid and white blood cells, which can cause the tissues to become swollen and puffy.

The severity of swelling after a tummy tuck can vary from person to person. Some individuals may experience mild swelling that resolves within a few weeks, while others may have more pronounced swelling that can persist for several months. Factors that can influence the duration and severity of swelling include:

– The extent of the surgery: More extensive tummy tuck procedures, such as extended tummy tucks or circumferential tummy tucks, typically result in more swelling than mini tummy tucks.
– The individual’s overall health: Patients who are in good overall health and follow their surgeon’s post-operative care instructions are more likely to have a smoother recovery with less swelling.
– Proper compression garment use: Wearing a compression garment as directed by your surgeon can help to reduce swelling and support the healing tissues.
– Avoiding strenuous activities: Engaging in physical activities too soon after a tummy tuck can exacerbate swelling and delay the healing process.

To help manage swelling after a tummy tuck, patients are typically advised to:

– Elevate the upper body: Keeping the head and shoulders elevated with pillows can help to reduce swelling in the abdominal area.
– Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water can help to flush out excess fluids from the body and reduce swelling.
– Follow a healthy diet: Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins can support the healing process and reduce inflammation.
– Avoid salty foods: Consuming foods high in sodium can contribute to water retention and make swelling worse.

In addition to these lifestyle modifications, some patients may benefit from using compression garments or lymphatic massage to help reduce swelling and promote healing. There are also a number of products available on Amazon that can help with swelling after a tummy tuck, including:

– Compression garments: Compression garments are often recommended by surgeons to help support the healing tissues and reduce swelling.
– Lymphatic drainage massage tools: Lymphatic massage can help to stimulate the lymphatic system and reduce swelling in the affected area.
– Cold packs: Applying cold packs to the swollen area can help to constrict blood vessels and reduce inflammation.

Overall, it is important for patients undergoing a tummy tuck to be prepared for the possibility of swelling and to follow their surgeon’s recommendations for post-operative care. By understanding why swelling occurs and taking proactive steps to manage it, patients can help to ensure a smoother recovery and more satisfying results.

Swelling after a Tummy Tuck Is Normal

Swelling in the abdominal area is perfectly normal and expected after a tummy tuck. In this area of the body, the blood vessels and lymphatic vessels work as a drainage system for fluids. During a tummy tuck, these vessels are cut. Because of this, the body removes fluid in the area a lot slower, resulting in fluid buildup known as edema or swelling.

Swelling is typically at its worst for the first 2 months following a tummy tuck, though everyone is a little bit different. As the body repairs blood and lymphatic vessels, the swelling should continue to resolve. This healing process can take up to a year or longer to complete, so it is common to see minor swelling in that time.

The amount of swelling experienced after your tummy tuck surgery can also vary depending on the treatment plan you choose. A mini tummy tuck or a drainless tummy tuck typically results in less recovery time and swelling than a traditional tummy tuck. Alternatively, adding liposuction to a tummy tuck can produce swelling in other areas of the body as well.

Swelling Can Fluctuate throughout the Day

Swelling is a common occurrence after injuries or surgeries, and it is a natural part of the body’s healing process. While the initial swelling may go down within a few days, minor swelling can persist and be influenced by various factors, including gravity and daily activities.



One factor that can contribute to continued swelling is gravity. When you are upright for long periods of time, such as standing during work or household chores, gravity can cause fluids to accumulate in certain parts of the body, leading to swelling. For example, prolonged standing can result in increased swelling in the abdomen. However, this type of swelling typically goes down after a good night of rest when the body has a chance to recirculate the fluids.



Another factor that can impact swelling is physical activity. When you start exercising, especially after a period of inactivity due to injury or surgery, you may notice increased swelling following workouts. This is because exercise can cause small tears in the muscle fibers, leading to inflammation and fluid retention in the affected area. While this type of swelling is temporary and usually subsides within a few hours or days, it is important to monitor it and consult with a healthcare professional if it persists or worsens.



There are several products available on Amazon that can help manage swelling and promote healing after injuries or surgeries. Some popular products include compression socks, which can help improve circulation and reduce swelling in the legs, and cold therapy packs, which can help reduce inflammation and provide pain relief. Additionally, supplements such as turmeric or bromelain may help reduce swelling and inflammation in the body.
























Product Name Description Price
Compression Socks Improve circulation and reduce swelling $15.99
Cold Therapy Pack Reduce inflammation and provide pain relief $19.99
Turmeric Supplement Reduce swelling and inflammation $12.49


In conclusion, minor swelling that persists after the initial swelling has gone down can be influenced by gravity and daily activities. Understanding the factors that contribute to swelling and taking steps to manage it, such as using compression socks or cold therapy packs, can help promote healing and alleviate discomfort. If swelling persists or worsens, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional for proper evaluation and treatment.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *