Side Effects of a Post-Bariatric Surgery Tummy Tuck

by Cheryl Ann Borne Patient Advocate
tummy tuck swelling

As stated earlier in this article, I had been communicating with my surgeon about my swelling since April 26th, just 8-days post op.
On that day the swelling had gotten worse. I could not button my pants. I could not even bring the two ends of the pants together to close them! How could it be that I had just had 6 pounds of redundant fat and skin removed with a tummy tuck but I could not fit into my pre-surgery pants?

On day 10 post-op, I posted on the Plastic Surgery Message Board to ask if this was normal swelling. After all, my surgeon had said I'd have some swelling. But this was not my expectation of some swelling; this seemed extreme to me. As it turned out, this was precisely the sort of swelling that you must endure after a tummy tuck. Here were some of the replies I received on the message board:

"Yes, very normal. My waist was also several inches bigger after surgery, and it took about six weeks for the majority of it to settle down. I am six months out now, and I still have problems with swelling. My waist will go up about three inches by the end of most nights. Sometimes I look five months pregnant!
For those first two months after my LBL, I just lived in yoga pants."


"I was swollen off and on for around 6 months. Right after I got home I measured my waist and it and if I am remembering correctly, it was 5 inches larger. I freaked!! (I'm a numbers girl). After about 3 weeks I did lose 3 of the 5, but the last two inches of swelling took months to go away."


"Normal. My doc said swell hell starts at around three weeks out and lasts for several weeks, sometimes months. Less severe swelling can go on for a year. I'm three months out. Start out normal in the am and get increasingly puffy as the day goes on. I still where my compression garment to sleep most nights, and it helps."

You can read this very interesting discussion by clicking here.

I had no idea that there would be this level of swelling so when it happened it shook me up. Do you recall the scene from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory when Violet ate the gum that made her turn blue and swell? Her belt popped off because her waist swelled so much. Well, that was how I felt at the time, except it was not my belt that popped open!

Among the many comments, a plastic surgeon from Texas added his thoughtful advice:

"Specializing in post-bariatric body contouring for the past 15 yrs. Swelling is normal following tt or body lift and can last typically up to 3 mths. It however can last up to 6mths. You do need to check with your surgeon to make sure the swelling is not a collection of fluid or blood. I like my patients to wear a girdle and abdo binder for a minimum of 6 weeks. Most wear them longer as they like the support"

The plastic surgeon's comment was confusing to me. If not a collection of fluid and blood, what was it? I contacted my surgeon, again.

Cheryl Ann Borne
Meet Our Writer
Cheryl Ann Borne

Cheryl Ann Borne, writing as My Bariatric Life, is a contributing writer and Paleo recipe developer. Cheryl is an award-winning healthcare communications professional and obesity health advocate who has overcome super obesity and it’s related diseases. She publishes the website, and microblogs on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Cheryl is also writing her first book and working on a second website.