Are Blood Tests Mandatory Before Surgery?

From reading other stories i was under the impression that i would have blood work done at my pre-surgical appointment. But when i went the nurse went over my history, checked my blood pressure, lungs, heart, etc. and looked down at her paper and said ok your all set to meet with the anesthesialogist your Doctor didn't order any blood work. Is that ok? Should i be concerned? My Tummy tuck and breast augmentation surgery is next week and i am starting to get really nervous.

Doctor Answers 25

Blood Tests Before Surgery

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Many agree that routine blood testing prior to surgery in young, healthy patients (say less than 30 years old) is not necessary.  While to a certain extent that may be true, I feel otherwise.   I require a CBC (complete blood count) prior to surgery on ALL patients.  This is to check for anemia (uncommon but I probably advise 10% of patients to begin iron supplements before surgery) but also to check the white cell count (an indicator of infection) espcially when placing a foreign body (breast implants) during surgery. 

One may have an asymptomatic infection (urinary tract is the most common) and I would like to know that prior to putting in implants to avoid seeding the implants.  An elevated white cell count may be the earliest indicator of this prior to symptoms.  If an implant becomes infected, there is a very likely chance that it's removal may be required in order to adequately treat the infection.  I want to avoid that at all costs.

I do not believe that any other lab tests are required up to the age of 50 (in acccordance with the guidelines of the American Society of Anesthesiologists) unless there are medical conditions that warrant them.  After 50, I require a CBC and EKG (done within a year).  Some surgeons will require only a pregnancy test for child-bearing age females prior to surgery.   Depending on when this is done, this may truly be the most unnecessary test. 

Most physicians require patients to come in for a "Pre-Op" consultation a week or 2 prior to surgery.  If the pregnancy test is done then, then you know that the patient is not pregnant then.  In the interim week or 2 until surgery, the patient could be sexually active and may become pregnant.  If the test is done on the morning of surgery (typically a urine test in the surgical facility, not a blood test),  these are notoriously inaccurate in detecting very early pregnancies (say with in a week or 2), so why bother.  Each surgeon has his/her own opinion about these things and I think you just need to trust what your surgeon recommends you do.

Orlando Plastic Surgeon

It is better to be safe than sorry with pre-operative blood work

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I have all of my patients get blood work if they are having anesthesia. This is true for someone 18 years old to someone 75 years old. A simple work-up is easy to do, minimally inconvenient and can potentially pick up a problem that could be exacerbated by a surgical procedure or anesthetic. It is better to be safe than sorry!

David Rankin, MD
Jupiter Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 168 reviews

Pre-operative blood tests

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In healthy patients younger than thirty a pregnancy test is usually all that is required.  However, some hospitals and surgical centers often require more extensive testing.  For patients older than 30, we generally require a CBC, BMP, and PT/PTT.  If you have any respiratory or cardiac issues, then we require a medical clearance from your medical doctor and also an EKG and a chest Xray.  Your medical doctor may also decide to order more extensive tests as well.  Good luck with your procedure. 

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Preoperative testing will vary with your surgeon and the facility

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Hi there-

For healthy young women (under age 30 with no medical problems) having short procedures with limited blood loss and anesthesia time (breast augmentation), most surgeons and facilities would not require any testing at all, other than a pregnancy test done in timely fashion.

Similarly, most would agree that patients over 40 or 50, or those with medical problems, would benefit from testing before undergoing surgery.

The gray area therefore, is between the ages of 30 and 40....

How to best prepare and evaluate a patient before surgery under these circumstances will depend on your surgeon, his or her experiences in the past, the facility the procedure will be performed in, and the preferences of the anesthesia provider involved in your care.

In other words, it would not necessarily be inappropriate to require some testing under these circumstances- nor would it be inappropriate to NOT require testing if your surgeon, anesthesia provider and facility did not feel it was necessary for you given the procedure you were having.

As I say so very often, your best bet is to do your homework carefully, find a surgeon and situation you like and feel you can trust, and then DO trust that they will recommend what is in your best interests and most likely to keep you safe.

Your age and health status is relevant

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Not every body need to have blood work and anesthesialogist will follow guide lines based on the surgery, age and risk factors. You should be able to discuss your concerns with your plastic surgeon rather than asking other doctors. You are about to let your surgeon operate on you and you should be able to talk to your doctor freely about any concerns that you have.

Kamran Khoobehi, MD
New Orleans Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 154 reviews

Blood tests

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Preop testing used to be based on your age. What we found was that we were getting a lot of expensive tests on people and not really improving their care. The tests ordered should be based on your personal history and the type of surgery you are planning.

Tracy E. McCall, MD
Milwaukee Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

Blood tests are often unnecessary for tummy tuck and breast augmentation

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If you are healthy and relatively young a blood test is not necessary for a breast augmentation or a tummy tuck procedure. Those who are on medication or have a history of anemia deserve a check beforehand, and those with a medical condition may require a checkup by their doctor for a medical clearance for surgery. A 'clearance' means that your medical condition is stable and well managed at the time and will not conflict with your procedure. Chest x-rays are a thing of the past. We do perform a urine pregnancy test on all of child bearing age the morning of the procedure.

Best of luck,


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

Blood work often times is not necessary

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In healthy patients under the age of thirty-five, without significant past medical problems, routine blood work isn't usually indicated. Assuming the patient hasn't had a tubal ligation or hysterectomy, the only lab work that we will require is a pregnancy test and that's usually obtained on the morning of surgery.

Hope this helps. Best of luck.

Pre-op Testing

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It is common to not need any blood work done before a cosmetic procedure. Many surgeons have chosen to opt out of preoperative lab tests because research by the American Board of Anethesiologists found that for young healthy patients that preoperative lab tests do not add safety to the procedure. If you are older or have additional medical issues then lab testing may be performed. Always be sure that you are seeing a surgeon that is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgeon for the best outcomes.

Blood tests before surgery

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Hi there 

Routine blood tests are not mandatory prior to a procedure such as a tummy tuck and breast augmentation.

Most of what we need to know will be ascertained in the history and examination and we reserve investigations for specific concerns.  

The yield of useful information on routine blood tests in fit and healthy patients is very low and the likelihood of identifying anything that would impact on your anaesthetic is virtually nil.

Best wishes


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.