Am I Out of Woods for PE?

4 Days PO with Clear Ultrasound. went to ER for bad leg pain in left calf today bc I was anxious about clots. I'm not a smoker, no birth control,spent 2 nights in aftercare place(automatic compression devices on legs whenever in bed for 2 days) and have been walking 5-10 minutes every hour or two since 1 hour postop-- also wearing TEDs and on 400 mg motrin every 6 hours. ultrasound showed no clots in legs today...can I rest easy that none will develop now this far out if i stay active? would really love to stress less over PE! THANKS!

Doctor Answers 4

Blood clots after tummy tuck

Of all the operations we do as plastic surgeons, tummy tuck surgery is probably the one procedure with the highest risk of blood clots.  Why is this?  Because in most cases we tighten the abdominal muscles.  That maneuver sort of squishes the intestines back into a space that is completely surrounded by muscle and bone.  In that space runs a large vein called the inferior vena cava.  That vein is the super highway for blood that had formerly been in the legs that is now trying to return to the heart.  When the intestines compress back in around that vein, it puts pressure on the vena cava and that backs things up into the legs.  So it is completely important that people walk a lot after undergoing tummy tuck surgery.  This helps with the circulation in the legs and helps minimize the risk of blood just sort of pooling in the leg veins.  You've been doing that.  I think it's important to use the sequential compression devices at least on the night of surgery; you did that for two nights.  Blood thinning medication may help minimize the risk of blood clots after tummy tuck surgery.  That might be a bit controversial, though.  You've been taking Motrin.  I'm not sure that Motrin plays any roll at all in minimizing your risk of blood clots.  Aspirin might minimize the risk to some degree, but probably not Motrin.   This is not to say you should take aspirin.  Talk with your surgeon, because your surgeon knows your medical history and knows the details of your surgery.  Ask your surgeon if aspirin is something you might consider.  If you have a drain in place it might not be a good idea because the drain irritates the surrounding tissues and aspirin could potentially create some modest bleeding problems there.  Having said all of this, it certainly sounds like you have done, and are continuing to do, things to help minimize your risk of blood clots and pulmonary embolism.  No one out here can tell you reliably that you're "out of the woods".  However, you are clearly doing a lot of things the right way.  In fact, if you spent two nights in the facility and the staff in the facility had you up and going during that time, that's pretty fantastic!  Keep walking, don't sit in one position for extended periods of time, and remain vigilant.  Do you need to stress over this?  No.  Follow your surgeon's instructions.  It sounds like your surgeon has put together a good program to help you minimize your risks.  Breathe in.  Breathe out.  Repeat.  The odds of NOT developing a blood clot and pulmonary embolism are in your favor!

Fort Worth Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Blood Clot and Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty)

The simplest way to reduce your risk for DVT (blood clot) and PE (blood clot to the lungs) would be to move around(walk) after surgery.  In surgery PS use preventative measure to also reduce the risk (selection of the appropriate patient, stockings and compressive devices in surgery).  So far it sounds like you are doing all you can to minimize this risk.

Dr. ES

Am I Out of Woods for PE?

Knowing that you have normal veins at four days after surgery and that you are up walking regularly, your chances of clots are certainly lower when compared with someone who doesn't know they have normal veins at 4 days, but still not zero. 

Continue the walking and compression. Assuming your family history is negative for clots, it seems like you have done all the right things. 

All the best. 

Jourdan Gottlieb, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 45 reviews

Out of Woods for Pulmonary Embolism after Tummy Tuck?

Despite wishing to give you reassurance, online consultants will not be able to do so with any degree of certainty. Although the chances are very low, you are still at risk for the development of pulmonary embolism;  therefore, I would suggest that you continue your current management.  Also, given the very low probability, probably not necessary to “stress”.

 Best wishes.

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,488 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.