Can Antibiotics Be Prevented (Or Alternative to Antibiotics) for a Tummy Tuck?

Having ulcerative colitis, antibiotics change the flora in the colon and could worsen the condition. My question is: Can antibiotics be avoided during a tummy tuck, or are there alternatives to antibiotics?

Doctor Answers 10

Antibiotic use after a tummy tuck

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Abtibiotics after a tummy tuck are prophylactic only.  They are not intended to "treat" an infection but rather help to "prevent" an infection.  Antibiotics are never a substitute for sterile technique.  A few tips for you to help reduce your risk of infection if your are not taking antibiotics:

  • Shower and wash the surgical site the night before and day of your surgery
  • Don't shave the pubic area before surgery, let your surgeon do that just before surgery as necessary
  • Choose a plastic surgeon and facility with low infection rates with abdominoplasty
  • Ask for "progressive tension sutures" to limit the duration that drains are needed.

York Yates MD - Utah

Salt Lake City Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 189 reviews

Antibiotics are not always needed for a tummy tuck

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According to infection guidelines in practice at most hospitals, antibiotics are indicated as a single dose depending on the type of surgery and the risk of a postoperative infection. The antibiotics are 'prophylactic' in that they are used to reduce the infection risk, not to treat one. The infection risk with tummy tuck is very low, and if you have a condition where antibiotics can cause more problems than they are worth you can have a tummy tuck without.

Best of luck,

Peter Johnson, MD

Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 44 reviews


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Antibiotics are commonly used during abdominoplastyto prevent infection.  Typically a dose is given intravenously during surgery.  This should not cause problems with ulcerative colitis the way oral antibiotics given for several days might.  I would discuss your concerns with your surgeon and take their advice regarding what would be best for you.

Ronald J. Edelson, MD
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

Antibiotics for tummy tuck are preventative but not mandatory.

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Antibiotics for tummy tuck are intended to reduce the risk of infection; however, if you have a pre-existing medical condition such as ulcerative colitis that prevents you from receiving routine antibiotics, then the risks might outweigh the benefits. In that situation, you can decline to receive the antibiotics. The risk of infection in tummy tuck is low and does not involve the placement of an implant. Discuss with your surgeon if he/she is willing to do your surgery without preventative antibiotics. It is a reasonable request. I hope this helps.

J. Jason Wendel, MD, FACS
Nashville Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 221 reviews

Antibiotics And Tummy Tucks

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Many plastic surgeons (including myself) give a single intravenous dose of antibiotic one hour prior to making the incision for a tummy tuck.  I do feel that this decreases the chance of having a post-op infection.  The single IV dose is probably not going to have an effect on your bowel flora.  Ask your GI doctor for his/her opinion.

John Whitt, MD (retired)
Louisville Plastic Surgeon

Antibiotics and Tummy Tuck

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We use the antibiotics as a preventative measure rather than as a treatment. I'm sure if you explain your concerns to the surgeon he will not use the antibiotics. But if you wind up with an infection then the antibiotic treatment will be necessary. I think you should discuss this with the surgeon and your GI specialist.

Ronald V. DeMars, MD
Portland Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

Antibiotics and elective cosmetic surgery

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The recommended standard for perioperative antibiotics is a single dose before your surgery via your IV.   Postoperative oral antibiotics have not be shown to give any advantage in preventing postoperative infections.  It is very unlikely that a single dose of antibiotics will significantly affect your GI issues/ulcerative colitis.  But it is a good question.  My suggestion would be to check in with your GI specialist before your surgery.  Best of luck.

Antibiotics and cosmetic surgery

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Currently, one preoperative dose of antibiotics should be okay to help prevent any infection.  If you are okay with this, you should be fine for a tummy tuck.   However, if you do get a postoperative infection you may need to go on a longer course of antibiotics.

Tummy Tuck and Antibiotics

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This is a controversial topic but here is my opinion: As long as IV antibiotics are given starting before the incision is made you are probably safe without taking additional post op antibiotics. However, following the advice of your plastic surgeon is key to minimizing problems. In my experience,  most board certified plastic surgeons use antibiotics following breast or tummy tuck surgery for a very limited course. No more than a 24 hour course and as few as a single dose of antibiotics following breast reduction is recommended by most experts. Such a short course usually does not affect your bowel flora especially if you continue to take probiotics afterward. 

Probably not

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Most surgeons doing a tummy tuck will put you on antibiotics just before the surgery starts and a few

days after in an effort to decrease the chances of an infection from the surgery.  Ulcerative colitis

can be a difficult disease to handle.  I think it's important to consult with whoever is managing

your colitis.  Be sure that he/she agree with the surgeons recommendation to avoid any

conflict that would make the post-op course difficult.

E. Anthony Musarra II, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon

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.