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Tummy Tuck - Not scared of Pain but of Complications

25 years old. Ok, so this is how neurotic and full of anxiety I am. I have no medical issues.(well besides anxiety!) I am young. I am in shape as I work out 6 days a week cardio and weight training. 5'7 125 lbs. I don't smoke or drink. But I am just convinced that something bad is going to happen when I have a FTT next Monday (3/7/11) Blod clots, bleeding, death from anesthesia, skin necrosis, wound opening, seroma. Any advice, reassurance. My son is my world, I don't want to die from vanity!

What are the risks for me?

Doctor Answers (10)

Minimal risks with tummy tuck for healthy person


It sounds like you are experiencing the normal anxiety that mothers do when considering an elective procedure.The list of potential complications is scary, but part of the informed consent process. However, if your operation is going to be done by a board-certified plastic surgeon in an accredited surgical facility, you will minimize the risk.  Other factors in your control are not smoking, healthy weight, consider temporarily stopping birth control puills if you use them.

Seattle Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

Tummy tuck Fears


Thank you for the question. Your concerns are very common (the norm rather than the exception)  with moms about to undergo tummy tucks surgery. Assuming you're working with well experienced board-certified plastic surgeon and anesthesiologist the chances are extremely high that you will do very well with your operation.

A few words of advice may be helpful...

You are about to undergo a major operation which often involves a significant physical and emotional recovery. A few words of advice may be helpful:
1. Make sure you are doing the procedure for the right reasons (for yourself)  and that you have realistic expectations.  Be aware that an improvement in the “problem area” may not translate to an overall improvement in your life   situation.  You are bound to be disappointed with results of the procedure if your motivation for doing the surgery is not internally driven.
2. Time your surgery carefully; generally, it is not a good idea to have surgery done during or immediately after a stressful period in life (for example divorce or death of a loved one). The additional stress of surgery will undoubtedly be  more challenging to deal with if a patient's emotional reserves our already exhausted. Remember, that an improvement in your physical appearance will not translate to an improvement in your life situation.
3. If possible speak to patients who have undergone similar procedures and query them about the toughest times of their recovery period. Any practical hints previous patients can provide may be very helpful.
4. Make sure you are aware of potential complications that may arise how to reach your surgeon if necessary.

5. Make sure you have a strong and patient support system (several people if possible) in place who have time/patience to take care of you. Arrange for professional nursing if any doubt exists regarding the availability and/or stamina  of your caretakers.
6. Be patient with the healing process, understanding that it will take several weeks to months to feel “normal” again. It may also take many months/year to see the end results of your surgery.
7. Be prepared to distract your mind with things of interest such as books, magazines, and movies.
8. Expect less of yourself; do not go back to work, school or chores too early and let others take care of you (for a change).
9. Pick your surgeon carefully (a well experienced board-certified plastic surgeon) and trust in his/her advice. Keep in close communication with your surgeon and do not hesitate to communicate questions/concerns and the   emotional swings that you may experience.
10. Resume all medications that you were using preoperatively when cleared by your plastic surgeon and stop the use of narcotics and sedatives as soon as feasible after surgery.
11. Keep in mind the end results as you go through the tougher emotional times after your surgery.

I hope this helps.

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 781 reviews

Anxiety Before a Tummy Tuck

All of your fears are completely normal. Looking at your pictures though, it appears that you are an ideal candidate for the procedure. Be up front with your surgeon and let them know about your anxiety.

Miguel Delgado, Jr., MD
San Francisco Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 32 reviews

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It is very normal to be anxious about an upcoming surgery. Most patients are. However,  if it is overwhelming, then perhaps this is an issue that should be addressed with your surgeon.

Marc Schneider, MD
Fort Myers Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

Risk with tummy tuck....


Any procedure will have some degree of risk, which your Doctor will go over with you. It is unlikely you will have a big problem since you are in such good physical condition. Good luck!

Victor Au, MD
Chapel Hill Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

Tummy tuck


You certainly look like a good candidate for a tummy tuck, but I would go over all these things with your doctor to alleviate yoru concerns.

Steven Wallach, MD
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Concerns before a tummy tuck surgery.


Many patients are nervous before a major surgery.  I am sure your surgeon has reviewed all of the complications with you by now and the only good advice to give you at this point is to follow all of your post operative instructions and to get lots of rest following the procedure.  Relax!  Since you are a healthy woman, I am sure you will have excellent results!

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 48 reviews

Excellent candidate for Tummy Tuck


Thank you for your question. You appear to be an excellent candidate for tummy tuck and if you are in good health with no major medical problems, are not a smoker, and not taking blood thinning medications then a Tummy Tuck should be a safe procedure.

Your concerns are very common among Tummy Tuck patients who have young children.

Be sure to express your concerns to your plastic surgeon and I am sure he or she will help calm your fingers.

Brooke R. Seckel, MD, FACS
Boston Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 36 reviews

Tummy tuck complications



  You are young, a non smoker and a work out regularly.  You have more predictability than some.  Remember too that most all patients think that any plastic surgery involving anesthesia means that they will die or get into big time issues for complications.

  You will have a nice outcome.  Stay excited.

        Steven M. Lynch, M.D.

Steven M. Lynch, MD
Albany Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

Low risk

Being so fit with no medical issues, you shouldn't be worried so much as you at a low risk for complications, as long as you follow your surgeon's instructions closely.

The potential side effects of a tummy tuck may include swelling, scarring, numbness, bruising and discomfort. Tummy tuck swelling is very common, as are the other side effects.

In terms of more serious risks, along with unexpected anaesthetic reactions, rare dangers of a tummy tuck include:

Patients are given antibiotics during surgery and a prescription for antibiotics that is to be taken after treatment. These work to reduce the chance of developing an infection.

A haematoma involves bleeding under the skin. This condition may require surgery to correct. If blood cannot be adequately drained from the area affected by the haematoma, excessive bleeding may need to be treated through a blood transfusion or surgery. The most common form of haematoma is far less severe, though. The problem is usually treated through aspiration or the placement of a drain that targets the localized blood collection.
The risk of developing a haematoma is minimized when a patient follows pre- and post-operation instructions. Avoid taking any blood thinners (aspirin, anti-inflammatories or vitamin E) in the time before and after surgery.

A seroma is a collection of fluid around the operational site. Patients who develop a seroma can be easily treated through a routine draining procedure.

Numbness and Skin Irritation
Numbness is usually very noticeable immediately after surgery, especially below the belly button in the midline. Over time, however, enough feeling returns that patients don’t pay attention to it any longer. This usually takes somewhere between three to eight months. Be careful when applying heat to numb areas, as even the minimal heat of a hot water bottle may damage or burn the skin if not carefully used.

Unusually Red or Raised Scars
Unusually red or raised scarring can take several months to fade. In other cases, bad scarring or the formation of keloid or hypertrophic scars can occur. This is usually the fault of a genetic predisposition towards improper scarring, something that can affect patients of all skin colours (and not just those of darker skin as previously believed).

Blood Clots
Blood clots (deep vein thrombosis or cardiac and pulmonary complications) can result from lengthy surgeries where the patient is immobilized. The main concern associated with the formation of (or increase in) blood clots in the veins of the legs is their ability to travel to other parts of the body. Blood clots that travel to the lungs, for example, can cause pulmonary embolism — a life threatening and, in some cases, fatal condition.
I commonly use compression stockings on the legs, and a very small dose of a blood thinner immediately before surgery, to help prevent clotting. The risk of developing blood clots can be reduced by moving as soon as possible after the surgery is complete. Patients are also urged to discuss their medical history with their surgeon. Any past history of blood clots, swollen legs or the use of estrogen or birth control pills can contribute to blood clotting and must be disclosed during consultation. Patients who experience an irregular heartbeat, chest pain or shortness of breath after treatment should immediately contact their physician and receive medical attention. In some cases additional procedures and hospitalization may be required.

Fat Necrosis
During the body's recovery process some of the deeper skin fat may die while other tissue heals. While fat necrosis is usually benign, patients who notice irregular body contours or areas of unusual firmness should contact their surgeon.

The chance of developing any of these complications is usually less than five to eight percent.

Jerome Edelstein, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 69 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.