Don’t Ignore the Symptoms: Signs of a Failed Tummy Tuck Surgery

Dr. Vitenas writes symptoms of a bad tummy tuck surgery in Houston, TX.
A tummy tuck is a surgery to improve your image, but be aware of these symptoms after your procedure.

A tummy tuck is a cosmetic surgery designed to create a flatter, firmer stomach by removing excess skin and fat and tightening the abdominal muscles.

The procedure is popular among individuals who have experienced significant weight loss or pregnancy, which can result in loose skin and weakened abdominal muscles.

As with any surgery, tummy tucks have associated risks and potential complications. It’s crucial not to ignore any signs of a bad tummy tuck, as early detection can prevent further complications and help to rectify the issue.

What is a Tummy Tuck Surgery?

Tummy tuck surgery, medically known as abdominoplasty, is a type of cosmetic procedure that is meticulously performed by a board-certified plastic surgeon. This surgery is designed to enhance the abdominal contours by removing excess skin tissue and fat deposits from the abdominal region and tightening the loose muscle in the abdominal wall.

The procedure can significantly improve the appearance of a protruding or loose and sagging abdomen, resulting in a flatter stomach and a more toned appearance.

A mini tummy tuck, also known as a partial abdominoplasty, is also available for minor improvements.

Reasons for a Failed Tummy Tuck Surgery

Poor aftercare post-procedure is a primary cause of a bad tummy tuck. During the tummy tuck recovery period, the body goes through healing stages. Ignoring the surgeon’s post-operative instructions, like avoiding strenuous exercise or heavy activities, can adversely affect healing and final results.

It’s important to avoid regular exercise, including abdominal movements until your surgeon approves. Light walking and daily activities can typically resume a few days post-surgery, but recovery timelines vary.

In addition, maintaining a stable weight during tummy tuck recovery is essential. Weight fluctuations can impact abdominal tissue healing and tummy tuck scar appearance. A healthy diet helps maintain goal weight and prevent contour irregularity.

Symptoms to Pay Attention To

If you’ve recently undergone a tummy tuck procedure, it’s vital to be aware of the signs of a failed surgery. Knowing what to look for can help you seek medical attention promptly, potentially preventing further complications.

Excess Skin

While a tummy tuck surgery aims to remove excess skin, if you notice an unusual amount of sagging or loose skin following your procedure, it could be a sign that the surgery was not performed correctly.

Loose Skin

Loose skin after a tummy tuck surgery may indicate that the surgeon did not tighten the skin adequately during the procedure or that the body is not responding well to the surgery.

Fluid Accumulation

One of the potential complications after a tummy tuck surgery is the accumulation of fluid in the abdominal area, which can cause discomfort and swelling. If you notice an unusual amount of fluid build-up under your skin, it’s important to contact your surgeon immediately, as fluid accumulation may require additional drainage procedures to alleviate the issue.

Abnormal Swelling or Bruising

Post-tummy tuck, expect some swelling and bruising. However, if swelling is excessive, prolonged, or worsens, it could signal a bad tummy tuck due to complications like hematoma or infection. Similarly, persistent unusual bruising may indicate under-skin bleeding.

Sudden Weight Gain or Loss

Tummy tuck surgery, while not a weight loss procedure, does involve removing excess skin and fat, leading to some immediate weight loss. However, sudden weight gain post-surgery could signal complications. Conversely, excessive weight loss might indicate malnutrition or other health problems. Maintaining a stable weight post-tummy tuck is crucial for optimal results and avoiding complications.

Blood Clots

Serious complications, like blood clots or deep vein thrombosis, can occur after tummy tuck surgery. This condition can cause leg pain, swelling, and redness, and in severe cases, clots can travel to the lungs, causing a life-threatening condition called pulmonary embolism. It’s important to seek immediate medical attention if you experience symptoms like sudden severe pain, leg redness, or shortness of breath.

Pain and Discomfort

Expected pain post-tummy tuck should subside over time. Persistent or escalating pain, unresponsive to prescribed medication could signal complications like infection, seroma, or hematoma. Report such issues to your surgeon immediately if problems persist or become worse.

Numbness in the Abdominal Area

After a tummy tuck, temporary abdominal numbness is normal. However, prolonged numbness may signal nerve damage, indicating a failed tummy tuck. It’s important to consult with your surgeon if you notice this issue.

Separation of Abdominal Muscles

The tummy tuck procedure involves tightening the abdominal muscles to achieve a flatter and more toned appearance. However, if the muscles start to separate after the surgery, this could be a sign of a bad tummy tuck. This condition, known as diastasis recti, can result in a bulge or protrusion in the abdominal area. It’s crucial to monitor your body shape and report any unusual changes to your surgeon.

Dr. Vitenas secures excellent results for its patients in Houston, TX.
Dr. Vitenas secures excellent results for his patients and an excellent post-surgery period

Warning Signs After Surgery

The healing process after an abdominoplasty requires careful observation for any potential warning signs after tummy tuck surgery. Early detection can help address issues promptly and avoid further harm.

Incision Sites are Red, Swollen, or Infected

The incision sites from a tummy tuck surgery should heal gradually over time. However, if they become red, swollen, or show signs of infection such as pus, this could be a sign of a failed tummy tuck. It’s important to keep the incision sites clean and follow your surgeon’s aftercare instructions to prevent infections.

Drainage Tube Becomes Obstructed

A drainage tube is typically placed under the skin to prevent the accumulation of fluid after a tummy tuck surgery. If this tube becomes obstructed, it can lead to complications such as seroma or infection. If you notice any issues with your drainage tube, such as obstruction or unusual discharge, contact your surgeon immediately.

Who is Dr. Vitenas?

Dr. Paul Vitenas is a renowned board-certified plastic surgeon based in Houston, Texas, with over 30 years of experience in cosmetic surgery. 

Founder of Vitenas Cosmetic Surgery, Dr. Vitenas is known for his focus on aesthetic outcomes, accentuating each patient’s natural features through procedures such as tummy tuck surgery.

Throughout his career, Dr. Vitenas has contributed significantly to various medical and beauty publications, and his innovative techniques have garnered attention from the medical community.

He has received numerous awards, including Patient’s Choice Awards, America’s Most Compassionate Doctors, CMUS Talk of the Town Customer Satisfaction Award, and the Best Single Physician Practice recognition. In 2022, Modern Luxury Magazine voted him the Best Facial Plastic Surgeon in Houston.