American Society of Plastic Surgeons
For Medical Professionals
 
hb112204
one year ago
Answered

Reopening of “new” bellybutton 6 years after Abdominoplasty?

I had an abdominoplasty in 2013. My surgeon created a new belly button, closed my natural one. 6 years later, I now have clear watery fluid turning into crusty yellow discharge coming from inside the “new” bellybutton. My PCP swabbed it to verify it’s not bacterial or fungal, and so far it’s come back as neither. Shes worried it may be slightly open and abdominal fluid is leaking out. Possible?

Procedure: Mommy Makeover
Type: Question

Replies 10

Steven Wallach
ASPS Surgeon
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The fluid drainage may represent a retained/exposed permanent suture. You would have to be seen in person to be sure. Good luck.

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Debra Johnson
ASPS Surgeon
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It's good to check and make sure there's no infection, as your primary care is doing. You should return to see your plastic surgeon. If that surgeon is no longer available to you, you can use the Find-a-Surgeon tool on this website to locate an ASPS surgeon near you. You could have a small fluid collection (seroma) leaking. It's not dangerous, but might need some attention to stop the leakage.

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John Lomax
ASPS Surgeon

It would be difficult to make a diagnosis without doing a physical examination. What you describe is unlikely to be an opening which is draining abdominal fluid. It may simply be a reaction to the sutures are other material used to create the new umbilicus or bellybutton. You should see an experienced board certified plastic surgeon. They may provide you the correct diagnosis and treatment. Best of luck.

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Ali Totonchi
ASPS Surgeon

Thanks for the question,

this is usually because of a reaction to sutures used in surgery, it is better to examined in person.

Best,

AT

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Peter Hetzler
ASPS Surgeon

If your plastic surgeon performed your abdominoplasty in the usual way, your natural or native bellybutton is actually still there, unless, as you say, your surgeon truly created a new one. As other ABPS certified surgeons on this post have said, the fluid drainage may be due irritation from retained suture material. However, since it's been six years, it may not be related to your surgery at all. It's good that your PCP found no evidence of infection. Please consult your plastic surgeon who can examine the area and discuss the next steps with you and your PCP. I wish you all the best.

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Gregory Dowbak
ASPS Surgeon

Abdominoplasty six years ago? Suddenly clear serous fluid not bacterial not fungal? Definitely not a stitch abscess. Something has changed and your immune surveillance system does not like it and recognizes it as “none self.” This should be recognized as potentially serious and not “sit and wait” and see what happens. I have seen patients like this before. Some examples: 1) patient being treated for “stitch abscess” 3 cm from neo-umbilicus. Proven to be colo-cutaneous fistula secondary to surgeon passing suture through wall of colon when suturing rectus muscles. 2) retained foreign body (sponge) sutured by assistants when surgeon had to leave OR while attending to emergency in recovery room. You need MRI now. This is not “just nothing.” Good Luck!

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Nelson Castillo

Thank you for sharing your question. Odd to have an issue after six years and this does warrant work-up. I would start with an in-person exam and then a possible Ultrasound if nothing is clear. Most likely a suture or small seroma. Hope this helps

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Wendell Perry
ASPS Surgeon

I've seen a problem similar to this patient came to see me you had a tummy tuck years before. When I explored the new bellybutton when I found was the residual portion of the old bellybutton was trapped underneath. This residual portion of the belly button was secreting fluids and oils. Essentially this was an inclusion cyst. The solution was exercising the all of the retained bellybutton. W

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Ralph Cozart
ASPS Surgeon

I agree that it is likly an infected permanent nylon or cotton suture from the muscle repair of the abdominoplasty. I recently treated one that was done in Costa Rica and just had to remove the sutures under local anesthesia in the office.

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Paul Parker
ASPS Surgeon

What you describe warrants further investigation. It would be most helpful for you to return to the surgeon who operated on you. They can review their operative report and examine you. This may shed light on what is going on without having to undergo radiographic imaging studies.

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