How to decrease swelling after Tummy tuck

Tummy tuck or abdominoplasty is a common cosmetic surgery procedure. The cosmetic plastic surgeon tightens muscles of the abdomen, remove extra tummy skin,  and liposuction of the flank for fat removal.

Here are a few previous blogs on the topic.

Full or mini tummy tuck

Abdominoplasty after care 1

Abdominoplasty after care 2

Healing after an abdominoplasty or tummy tuck is dependent on a number of factors

1. Amount of fat and thickness of skin

2. Patient genetics and lymphatic tree

3. Movement of the body

Skin and fat

The more skin and fat a patient has the greater the amount of “water” (swelling)  that is trapped within the abdomen . This will prolong the time for the swelling to decrease. Thinner patients will have a faster recovery from swelling after a tummy tuck. There is not much a patient can do about that after the surgery, but it’s important  for you to know.

 Lymphatic vessels

The lymphatic vessels are responsible for removal of the swelling from the tissues and taking it back to the blood circulation. The lymphatics mirror the blood vessels throughout the body. Any damage to the lymphatics,( surgery can be considered an injury), will decrease lymphatic flow.  Decreased lymphatic flow causes more swelling. With time lymphatic vessels reform and start their function again. Until this time, massage of skin by lymphatic massage, will help to decrease swelling in skin.

Lymphatic drainage after cosmetic surgery


Another way to decrease swelling after a tummy tuck is for the cosmetic plastic surgery patient to move. Walking or even standing are better than sitting. Sitting will increase swelling in the lower abdomen which needs even more time for healing.  Even movement of the limbs will help decrease swelling in the abdomen also as the lymphatic system is a closed system. That in turn will decrease the risk of blood clots forming DVT, deep vein thrombosis, and emboli to the lungs which can be a serious complication.

Complications after tummy tucks

Morad Tavallali, M.D., FACS