Why Do You Feel Bloated After Your Cosmetic Surgery Procedure?

If you have recently undergone cosmetic surgery and are experiencing bloating, don’t panic, it’s completely normal. During post-op recovery, it’s normal to feel bloated after surgery for several reasons. Although it can make you feel full and uncomfortable, it is normal, but there are steps you can take to help ease bloating. 

Why Do You Get Bloated After Surgery?

If you find yourself feeling bloated after surgery, you are not alone. Abdominal bloating can make you feel swollen, uncomfortable, and full. Following a cosmetic procedure, you may feel bloated because of a few reasons: 

Medication and Anaesthetic

The anaesthetic during the surgery and medication following the procedure can affect the body differently. Anaesthesia can slow down the bowls. So, the rate at which your bowls empty can be much slower, which can make you feel a little backed up and increase bloating. 

Pain relief medication or antibiotics can cause bloating. Some patients find they are constipated or have a reduced appetite after surgery, which can increase the chances of bloating and make the body hold onto water. This usually subsides in 1-2 weeks. 


A combination of anaesthetic and medication can slow down the gut and make it more likely for you to suffer from constipation. This can lead to bloating and discomfort. After 7-14 days, constipation should start to ease as your body gets back to normal. 

Physical Activity

After your surgery, you will be moving less and resting while you recover. This in itself can make you feel sluggish, more bloated, and lead to fluid retention. During recovery from cosmetic surgery, it’s common for patients to spend more time resting or on the sofa. Reduced movement can make you feel more bloated. 


If your diet changes after your surgery, it can impact your gut. For example, if you’re reaching for quick, more processed meals or have a reduced appetite, this can have an adverse impact. It’s easy to reach for sugary foods to treat yourself; however, this can also lead to more bloating. When you feel tired and run down, it’s tempting to reach for carbohydrates to pick you up. But it’s important to remember that comfort foods can increase bloating. 

Recovery tips - Healthy eating - bloated after surgery

How Long Do You Stay Bloated After Surgery?

Typically, post-surgery bloating peaks in the first few days following your procedure. It can last for a few weeks following your surgery as your body gets back into its normal flow. If you’re taking antibiotics or medication after your surgery, then these may bloat you too. It’s normal to experience swelling after surgery, and this can often promote bloating in the stomach. 

With every week that passes, you should feel better and better.It can take a little while to get back to your baseline. While you may be passing regular bowel movements, it’s normal for your body to retain fluids for 2-3 weeks after your surgery. So, between bowel movements, fluid retention, and swelling, bloating can be an uncomfortable but normal side effect of surgery. 

Feeling Bloated After Surgery: How to Get Rid of It 

Every person is different, and it’s best to not worry about your bloating too much. Although it can feel super uncomfortable, it should subside over the next couple of weeks. If you are concerned with your bloating, you should contact your doctor immediately to talk through any concerns. 

Naturally, any stomach bloating should go away on its own. But there are a few things you can do to help ease discomfort and speed up healing, including:

Gentle Movement

Avoid over-exerting yourself but get your body moving gently as soon as you can. This could look like a walk around the garden or hallway. It’s important to not stay in bed for too long as prolonged inactivity can increase the risk of postoperative complications. Your doctor will advise you on when and how to gently move after your surgery in the safest way possible. 

Follow a Healthy Diet

As much as it’s easy to heat up a processed meal in the microwave, try to follow a healthy diet after your surgery. That means eating plenty of fibre, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. 

Fibre is important for supporting healthy and regular bowel movements. Eating a fibre-rich diet will help to produce softer stools with less strain. Foods like dark leafy green vegetables, berries, and oatmeal help to provide fibre as well as nutrients your body needs to recover. 

Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water to flush out the anaesthetic and toxins from the body. Staying hydrated is crucial during your recovery not only for helping to ease bloating, but transporting essential nutrients around the body. 

Wear Your Post-Surgical Compression Garment 

Whether it’s liposuction, breast augmentation, or a tummy tuck, continue to wear your post-surgical compression garment. Although it’s not the most attractive or comfortable piece of clothing you will ever own, it does serve a purpose. Compression does make a big difference in recovery, reducing swelling, and producing great results. 

Other tips for easing bloating after surgery are: 

  • Try using a hot water bottle to ease stomach discomfort. 
  • Avoid wearing tight clothing that puts pressure on your stomach. 
  • Seek advice from your plastic surgeon. 

Stronger medications like prescription painkillers tend to be harsher on the stomach. Paracetamol is usually softer on the gut. When any pain or discomfort subsides, you should be able to cease stronger painkillers. You will discuss pain management with your doctor to help you have the best plan in place. 

It’s normal to feel like your stomach’s bloated after surgery. Although you can take steps to help reduce bloating, mostly, you just need to give your body time. The bloating is uncomfortable, but rest assured that it is a normal yet frustrating part of recovery. However, if you have any concerns or questions about your recovery, you should speak with your plastic surgeon, who can give you the best advice for your specific case. 

Plastic Surgery Recovery: Why Choose the Harley Clinic for Your Cosmetic Treatment 

Book a consultation today at the Harley Clinic. 

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