Ask a doctor

Leg Elevation During Recovery

I'm having BR & TT. Would it be a good idea to elevate my legs while I'm recovering?

Doctor Answers (6)

Leg elevation

+1

Leg elevation may be helpful after your surgery to help prevent swelling in the legs.  Also, following a tummy tuck, you will need to maintain some flexion at the waist for several days after surgery.  However, it is also I,portent to get out of bed and walk around regularly to avoid blood clots from formind in your leg veins.  I'm sure your plastic surgeon will give you very specific instructions on your post surgical routine.


San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

Breast Reduction - Leg Elevation During Recovery

+1

I think you have to be concerned with doing a lot more than that.  Combining these procedures, particularly if being done under general anesthesia (as is likely in view of what you're having done) is associated with a risk of blood clots in the legs (referred to as Deep Vein Thrombosis, or DVT).  If these break off and travel to the lungs it is called a pulmonary embolus, and the results, in that case, can be fatal or, if not, can cause significant morbidity.

You are right to be concerned about this but there are many things that can be done to minimize the risk.  These include administering anticoagulants, such as heparin or Lovenox, the use of compression devices on the legs, early ambulation, adequate hydration, etc.  It is reasonable for you to speak with your PS ahead of time to make sure these things are being done, as is likely.  Together, they reduce the risk of this combination.

Elevating your legs may be part of helping swelling diminish - in the sense that you're "defying" gravity - but there are many more issues that need to be addressed in order to ease your recovery.  And to maximize the safety of this procedure.

I hope that this helps and good luck,

Dr. E

Alan M. Engler, MD, FACS
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 155 reviews

Walking prevents blood clots after surgery

+1

After your surgeries you may be most concerned with blood clots forming in your leg.  I generally tell my patients that they should be walking rather than worrying about elevating your legs.  It is more important to pump your calf muscles like you are pressing the brakes in a car.  This will keep the venous blood circulating out of them and keep blood clots from forming there and creating major problems.  The simplest way of doing this is by walking, but you can also do this while on the couch; just put your legs up and pump them against the cushion or whatever is near by.

Generally elevating your legs will help keep swelling out of them and keep them from being painful.  You are having cosmetic surgeries so swelling of the legs due to excess fluid should not be a major concern or your surgeon would/should have discussed this with you before hand. 

Nikesh K. Patel, MD
Freehold Plastic Surgeon

You might also like...

Leg elevation prevents thrombosis

+1

 yes but besides you should  utilize a medium  elastic and compressive legs garments and  start movilization out of  your bed  as soon as possible 

Ramon Navarro, MD
Mexico Plastic Surgeon

Leg elevation and breast reduction/ tummy tuck

+1

You are having two major operations which will be performed under a general anesthetic.  One of the most significant complications (which most of us fear) after a surgery like this is DVT (deep venous thrombosis, or a blood clot in your legs which can travel to your lungs). During surgery, you will likely have compression devices - "leg squeezers" -- (known as SCDs) on your legs.  These devices intermittently squeeze your calves during surgery to minimize the risk of clot formation.  Probably, the most important thing that you can do after surgery to minimize this risk of DVT is to walk.  I usually have my patients walk the evening of surgery -- nothing strenuous but enough to keep moving.  You may also receive a shot of blood thinner.  I would suggest that you discuss these issues with your surgeon.  Good luck!

Anureet K. Bajaj, MD
Oklahoma City Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

Leg elevation after breast reduction and tummy tuck is beneficial to reduce risk of blood clots.

+1

You are having a couple of significant operations (often done together) that will take 4 or more hours in the operating room. You can be sure your surgeon will be using some sort of anti-embolic measures to decrease the risk of blood clots. You may be sent home with compression stockings, which need to be worn properly to avoid acting like a tourniquet (all the way on, smoothly, NOT rolled down a bit). You should flex your feet when sitting or when in bed to keep your lower extremity blood moving, stay well-hydrated, and follow any other recommendations your doctor has made.

Elevation of the legs is helpful in increasing blood flow and decreasing venous congestion and possible clot formation, but ONLY IF the legs are above heart level. Putting your feet on a footstool or in a recliner chair is NOT elevation, since your legs are still below heart level.

If you lie down on a bed or sofa and elevate your feet above your heart, this is GOOD! Walking and flexing your feet are next best, and standing and sitting are not as good.

Richard H. Tholen, MD, FACS
Minneapolis Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 136 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.