Almost everyone who has had a tummy tuck inevitably asks after surgery, “Should I still have swelling?” And the answer is categorically, “yes”. It’s normal to experience intermittent swelling and even areas of mild inflammation of your belly for up to several months after this procedure. There are many reasons this occurs but let’s discuss the treatments we use in our practice to make this a nonissue.
Swelling is Inevitable
Swelling and inflammation are inevitable after a tummy tuck, especially one paired with aggressive liposuction. This is an invasive surgery that, by design, touches almost every part of your midsection. So, it will swell. In some cases, your belly may appear even more protruded than before surgery. Don’t worry, this is only temporary. As your body’s inflammatory response works to heal the surgically treated areas, soft tissue swelling is expected for all patients. It is a necessary part of healing.
Our Comprehensive Management Plan
Our approach to postoperative swelling with tummy tucks is to hit it head-on. We use multimodality treatments to limit the development of swelling and to reduce the swelling that already exists. We mix and match the treatments below depending on your exam:
- Hyperbaric oxygen therapy: We are installing a state-of-the-art hyperbaric chamber in our office that increases oxygen delivery to the soft tissue to aid healing.
- Cryotherapy: We frequently recommend cryotherapy (cold therapy) once drains are removed to reduce inflammation.
- Lymphatic massage: Specialized massage techniques performed by a certified therapist can help reduce edema.
- Walking: One of the simplest ways to reduce swelling is to get moving with daily walks. This is mandatory for our patients.
- Rebounding: Bouncing gently on an exercise ball mobilizes fluids. Vibration plates can provide similar benefits.
- Acupuncture: Acupuncture is known to reduce post-surgical swelling and discomfort.
Swelling comes and goes in waves in the months after surgery. Some patients look fabulous fairly quickly, while others have notable swelling right after surgery. Even those that have little swelling initially can experience a flare-up a month or two later. It is hard to predict. But with diligent self-care and the integration of the treatments above, it can be managed and will fully resolve. That is a guarantee! Most importantly, we are here to support you through recovery!