Abdominal swelling after surgery - has anyone else had this?

Hi, I had my mastectomy in April, and ever since the op I’ve had upper abdominal swelling.  It’s like I’m 8 months pregnant!  I’m not tiny but I’ve never had such a big upper tummy!  I’ve lost nearly a stone since the op, and have been going to the gym three times a week.  I’ve lost 2 inches off each thigh and can’t keep my trousers up, but my upper tummy just stays distended.


Has anyone else had this?  My GP doesn’t seem bothered, and my BCN says it will ‘probably go away’.  I’m 48 and apparently not peri-menopausal.  Any ideas?


Thanks people, and I hope you’re all doing ok.

Hi Beeny,


May I ask if you had reconstruction after your mx? I had my mastectomy last December - no recon -  and since then, my stomach on mx side looks like I’m pregnant too.  As I’m 62, this would be impossible and I’m very definitely post menopausal.  I’d put it down to the fact that now the boob has gone, I can see this side of my stomach - but not the other, where I still have a boob. I don’t tend to wear my prosthesis in my bra, but have noticed that when I do, my tummy disappears just like the non-mx side. I have very skinny legs and arms, but this huge stomach bulging out!!! Of course, I could just be obese in that area. :womanfrustrated:


best wishes


poemsgalore xx

so glad it’s not just me!!!  I had my mx last December and unless I wear my prosthesis I look pregnant - not a good look LOL x

Hi Beeny,
I had I mx with immediate reconstruction last June. I have what the surgeon called a bulge and I have it in writting as fat and muscle. I have recently had a CT scan and guess what they found. A seroma. A pocket of fluid. This is very common after an operations tgat is why they fit drains, but no one consider this when looking at the bulge. There are a lot of very red faces from my surgeon to breast nurse to gp.
I is worth asking the question.
Hope this helps.
Nette x

Hi Anna,
I am currently having Chemotherapy an they will not treat the seroma until it has finished.
My understanding is that they will scan it and then drain the fluid off. It should be simple and straight forward.
Over my journey I have found you have tofind your own answers and take them to the doctors and they will then respond. At least it gets them thinking.
Try not to worry, about other cancers I think it would be very rare. Speak to your breast nurse you are definitly not alone in you fears.
Good luck Nette x

Hi Beeny
Have you had any luck solving the reason for your since we last contacted.
I go to see my surgeon tomorrow to find out when he will drain. Hopefully before Christmas.
Nette x

My mom is experiencing the same thing - visible abdominal distension, that has persisted almost 5 weeks after her surgery.


Did this swelling resolve for anyone?  Did any of you get a diagnosis?  (doctors are currently evaluating my mom for other causes,  including ovarian cancer)


Hope you all are feeling better!

I am due to have my seroma surgical removed on Tuesday 22 July.
Did everyone get there tummy bulges diagnosed and sorted out.
For everyone a scan, definitely CT, but possibly other types of scan as well, will show up the composition of your bumps.
All the best

Hi Everyone
How are you all doing?
I am home again after my double op. After a horrid meeting with my surgeon’s senior registrar who spent ages telling me about everything that could go wrong and the %odds then saying that the odds don’t matter if you are the one. I was in tears and decided not to sign the consent form until after my CT scan that was meant to show how compromised my tummy area was. Then my surgeon saw me and said I was not to worry and that it had to be done. So into the theatre I went. Because I have had shoulder problems since my previous mx with recon they took me into the main theatre and put me on the table made sure my arms were comfortable before putting me under. They also gave my anesthetic in my foot to avoid my node cleared arm. All went well and I feel great.
I have come home with two hip and drains but they seem to be reducing output well and the reduced bust looks good and looks like it might be a ‘b’ cup down from a big ‘d’. I will be able to tell better in a few weeks when the swelling has gone down.
So after months of worry and fears I am feeling so light. 6 weeks recovery and I am going to get my life back.
I will need all new breast gear. Swim suit, protheses, bras. I am going to ring a couple of suppliers and see if they will give me a discount.
I think others have been in hospital this week I hope you have all got on as well as me. Those on heceptin I think you are all getting to your last dose.
Go girls we are EPIC.
A very buoyant NETTE

All, I am 5 weeks post double MX and have the belly swelling you describe.  I have had CT scan, Xrays and blood tests and all are normal.  I am 49 yrs old and have to wear my husbands clothes because I cannot fit my belly into mine.  My care team says they have never seen this but obviously others have had it.  Does it go away?

I am one of the lucky ones.  At age 65, I am 11 days post op after a simple left breast mastectomy.  Drain was removed on day six, and I have been taking my normal walk each day since day 7 (3-4 miles each day).  I have only taken one pain pill since my surgery, and that was on the first day.  My bowel habits have returned to normal, but I also have torso bloat/swelling that is quite uncomfortable.  Anyone seeing me would assume that I am six months pregnant.  The swelling is in the left breast and side, naturally, but also in the groin area, upper and lower abdomen, and across my back by my shoulder blades.  No swelling in my extremities.  After researching this phenomenon online, I think that it must be due to the antibiotic I will finish today.  I’ve read that some antibiotics can kill the natural bacteria that the body needs to help process food as it passes through the system.  I am on Cefadroxil, which does make me nauseous if I take it on an empty stomach.  Since I cannot blame this on lack of exercise, constipation, cancer spread, etc., I guess I will be patient and wait for the medication to work itself out of my system to see if things improve! 

Any improvement since 2013?

I think you must consult a doctor on this as they can suggest you something after propec checkups and test reports. Most of the people faces problem after surgeries but then you must be really cautious about all these problems.

I have had that abdominal swelling as well. Hard to feel good about oneself when you look 8 months pregnant. Ugh.

There’s evanmarcus again appearing on the forum with slightly odd remarks…

I had my op on both breasts on the Thursday and my drains were taken out on the Saturday. I am huge, I have had four children and I didn’t get this big in my abdominal area. I am a very small frame and I am 74 all most 75 years of age. I look like a freak. Please tell me it will go away. I am so relieved that I have found this group and that I am not alone with this problem!

Oooh! I did not know about this. Had breast op 4 weeks ago, and I’ve been putting the tummy bloat down to all the things already mentioned - painkillers, lack of movement, the fact that my boobs aren’t blocking the view, etc etc. But it does seem just that bit more than those would explain.

So… consensus seems to be to talk to either GP or BCN, it won’t just settle on its own?

Yet another thing to add to the list of ‘why don’t they forewarn you about these things’??