Can you die from a Tummy Tuck and Breast Lift?

I am wondering what the chances are of dieing from getting a breast lift with a tummy tuck. Would it be better/safer to get them done in two separate appointments? Are blood/fat clots something that happens often. If someone has had a previous surgery with no complications, is it safe to say that there won't be complications with this type of surgery?

Doctor Answers 11

Risk of tummy tuck + breast lift

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Yes, one can have blood clots in the legs that cause sudden death after any operation - and especially those that can block blood flow in the legs - which a tummy tuck does.

No complications from previous surgery reduces your risk - but does not mean complications will not occur.
There is a risk of complication from all surgery -as there is with every aspect of life.

If you are healthy, a normal weight and the surgery is less than 5 hours, risks are low.
But to lower risk even more, split the two operations.

Can you die from a tummy tuck?

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An article published in the Journal of plastic and reconstructive surgery published in July 2008 reviewed outpatient surgical procedures performed between January 2001 through June 2006. Of the 1,141,418 outpatient procedures performed there were 23 deaths. 13 of the 23 where the result of pulmonary embolism. In order to reduce the risk of a pulmonary embolism many surgeons use al protocol to assess the risk for a blood clot and possible pulmonary embolism. If patients score high enough in this assessment they are placed on blood thinners after surgery to help protect them from a blood clot and possible pulmonary embolism. Only 1 death occurred as a result of something that happened during the course of the procedure. This was reported to be a result of the intravenous anesthesia administered by the surgeon performing the operation.. The American Society of plastic surgeons estimates that there is 1 death in every 57,000 plastic surgical procedures. This can be contrasted to the 1 in 5000 chance of dying in a motor vehicle accident during a one year period of time in the United States of America.  Risk of complications begins to increase after 4 hours of surgery.  It  combination of procedures can be performed in 4 hours or less When considering plastic surgery it is very important to consult a surgeon board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and make sure your procedure will be performed in a properly certified facility. It is also ideal to have your anesthesia administered by a board certified anesthesiologist.

John J. Edney, MD
Omaha Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 133 reviews

Can you die from a Tummy Tuck and Breast Lift?

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I think that in healthy patients, tummy tuck and breast lift can be performed together safely.   Find an expert in all of these procedures who has great before and after pictures and great reviews.

Kenneth Hughes, MD

Los Angeles, CA

Can you die from a Tummy Tuck and Breast Lift

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Yes you can die, you can die from any surgery.  You can die driving home from work today but the odds are defiantly in your favor.  Once you have all the information on these procedures like anesthesia time , recovery time, and surgical time asleep, I believe you will feel better.  It is evident that your anxiety of the surgery needs some attention.  Education will help with that.  Before you have surgery though,, you must be 100% confident in the surgeon and the facility and the staff in the OR.  Nurses, techs etc..  Find the perfect board certified physician that fits all of your needs and you will feel so comfortable with your decision.


Dr. Lane F. .Smith

Lane Smith, MD
Las Vegas Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 98 reviews

Complications from Multiple Procedures

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Doing a tummy tuck and breast surgery at the same time is very safe and commonly done. In my practice it is usually mothers of young children that are overly anxious about worst case scenarios. If you are in good general health (non smoker, BMI under 30, not diabetic) there is minimal risk for complication. A consultation with a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon will help you understand whether this is a good choice for you. Good luck.

Mary Lee Peters, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 117 reviews

Can you die from a tummy tuck & breast lift?

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The answer is yes.  The most common cause involves blood clots developing in the legs/pelvis,
which can migrate to the lungs (pulmonary embolism).  This can occur even without having surgery.
Several things can help to reduce your risk.  These include avoidance of certain hormone therapies,
early ambulation after surgery, and adequate fluid intake to avoid dehydration.  In some cases, anti-
coagulant medications may be recommended.  

Michael F. Bohley, MD
Portland Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 20 reviews

Tummy Tuck Death

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Yes you can die from surgery. Often it is due to blood clots in your legs or lungs. You should have an open conversation about the risk of blood clots with your doctor to determine your risk factors. This may help the doctor to determine whether you may need any blood thinners around the time of surgery. Unfortunately there are no set rules about giving blood thinners in plastic surgery patients, but you should still talk to your board certified plastic surgeon. Overall, surgery is very safe and it's rare to have a major complication like that.

Jeffrey Gusenoff, MD
Pittsburgh Plastic Surgeon

Can you die from a Tummy Tuck and Breast Lift?

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Yes, patients have died from every type of surgery. But the question you should be asking is not "is it possible" but "is it likely". If you are healthy you are about 50 times more likely to die in a car accident on the way to the grocery store as you are from those elective surgeries.

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

Can you die from a Tummy Tuck and Breast Lift?

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Thank you for the question. The best published data I can find regarding mortality rates associated with tummy tuck surgery range from 0.02% to 0.16%.   In other words, mortality rates are extremely low. The most common cause of that is related to pulmonary embolism (blood clots that moved to the patient's lungs).

Your best bet: choose your plastic surgeon very carefully; everything else including good judgment/advice/planning, anesthesia provider and safe surgery facility will follow. 

This careful selection should give you some peace of mind that you will be safe around the time of surgery. 

Best wishes.

Risks of Surgery

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  1. 23 Deaths in 1,141,418 plastic surgery procedures.
  2. Only 1 death from surgery itself.
  3. You are 11 times more likely to die in your car than during surgery.

  4. Most importantly, if you have any risk factors, these issues should be adequately evaluated prior to any surgery.

Robert M. Freund, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 34 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.