Is It Safe Combining Breast Reduction, Tummy Tuck, and Liposuction?

I am getting a Breast Reduction, Tummy Tuck, and Liposuction under my breasts and under my armpits.

I am overweight and I am really scared. Is it safe? The surgery should last 5 hours . I will stay over night at the hospital. I have had a stress test and a chest x-ray all seemed ok. But I have poor circulation in my left leg. But seem ok other wise.

Doctor Answers 21

2 things to reduce risk from multiple procedures

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1. Risk of general anesthesia overall, and blood clot to the lungs in particular.

a) There is risk related to the use of general anesthesia. Risk of general anesthesia increases rapidly after 4 hours of surgery. Therefore, multiple procedures are considered riskier. This risk virtually disappears when using IV sedation in combination with tumescent anesthesia. This has been documented in thousands of cases by Dr. Ersek and Dr Mustoe.

b) The risk of pulmonary embolus is likewise virtually eliminated with IV sedation, as has been documented by Drs Ersek and Mustoe.

2. Certain procedures preserve blood supply better.

a) For breast reduction, the vertical scar technique does not have the long horizontal scar that the top of the abdomen that would concern me if I was doing a Tummy Tuck with an "Inverted T" incision.

b) The "Lockwood" technique for Tummy Tuck preserves many more blood vessels, making it much safer to combine lipo with it.

Baltimore Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 97 reviews

Risks of multiple procedures

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On TV, these combinations of procedures are very common following massive weight loss or in "mommy makeover" combinations.

This combination of procedures typcially will take the average plastic surgeon a minimum of 4-6 hours. Surgical time can be reduced by the use of multiple surgeons or assistants or using techniques that cut down on the "sewing" time.

The risks of prolonged surgery are well described. As plastic surgeons, one of our most common concerns in clotting which develops in the calves or pelvic veins which can break free and travel to the lungs or heart with potentially fatal consequences. The rates have been estimated at 1 out of 3,000 to 40,000. Other risks do occur and may be related to generated to your general health and associated medical problems.

Any surgery lasting over 2 hours can have an increased risk of clot formation with certain identified procedures having a higher risk. There is some controversy about whether abdominoplasty and liposuction together have an especially higher rate.

Certain interventions can decrease the rate of clot formation but not completely prevent them.

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 86 reviews

Can be safe all things considered

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You are appropriate in your concern for a longer operation. There are a number of factors to consider; using a board-certified plastic surgeon, having your procedure(s) performed in a fully accredited facility, recovering in a proper health care setting with all precautions taken, and your health to begin with. This is a lot of surgery to undergo at one setting but can be accomplished safely with all proper precautions taken. This is a discussion that you should have with your plastic surgeon.

Dr Edwards

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Don't push it

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The procedures that you name can all be done at the same time in an appropriate patient - young, healthy and not overweight. The goal should be to have the surgery completed within 6 hours. However, if you have any issues, the operative time may extend beyond this. You also have to factor in the recovery time and emotional and physical impact on your body. Good luck with your surgery.

In a healthy patient who understands what is involved this is a good approach

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While combining breast reduction, liposuction and tummy tuck surgery is a lot of surgery, It is a safe combination if safety criteria are followed. I frequently do breast reduction or breast lifts with or with out implants, liposuction of the abdomen, hips, lateral thighs, medial thighs and knees and tummy tucks with correction of the muscle separation. I feel that it is best to do these big multiple procedures in a major hospital and keep the patient over night at least. It is critical to maintain the patients body temperature, hydration, and oxygenation during and after the operation. It is important to minimize blood loss and limit the operating time to under six hours. If these parameters can not be met then it would be best to separate the procedures. Since each operation requires 2 weeks, 6 weeks and 6 months of recovery, doing them together limits the recovery time to one series of weeks. It is also financially better to do these in combination when safe and feasible.

Carl W. "Rick" Lentz III, MD
Orlando Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

It is very important to individualize.

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Hi! If you are young, and healthy, and not overweight -- and if you are talking about liposuction of the love handles only -- then in NYC we would probably do breast reduction and tummy tuck and liposuction together.

But if you are not in good shape, or if you want liposuction of several areas, then I would do it in two stages.

George J. Beraka, MD (retired)
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon

Safety depends on what is done to whom, not the names of procedures

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The procedures you mentioned do not describe the complete nature of the surgery. A breast reduction can remove 250cc or 1000cc. per breast. It might involve just a lollipop type tincision or an inverted-T incision. The same with the tummy tuck. Liposuction is even more variable as to volume and surface area. Certainly surgeons have perfomed all of these procedures at once. One of my patients on Extreme Makeover was such a patient. But the surgeon has to carefully weight the specifics of each procedure. For example, does he need to undermine the abdomen so close to the inframammary fold of the breast that the fold can shift inferiorly and thus distort the landmarks of the breast for his reduction and might it interfer with the blood supply of the abdominal flap? For the liposuction, it is perhaps not so much the total volume he needs to remove but the total surface area of the suctioned tissue that contribute to physiological fluid loss and demands on wound healing capacity. Your surgeon and you should also discuss the bailout points of the operation so that he can decide to curtail the operation in case things are not going according to plan. You are right to put safety first.

Robin T.W. Yuan, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon

It really depends

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Certainly, you must be healthy to do this and you must have an excellent Board Certified Plastic Surgeon caring for you. Personally, I do this all the time but I never do any liposuction below the waist in this combination of surgeries. I restrict the liposuction to the flank areas only when I combine breast and abdominal surgeries. The reason I do this is to minimize the risk of blood clots in the veins which can dislodge and travel to the lungs and be fatal. I feel that you need to be mobile to minimize this risk and pain from head to toe will limit this mobility. My patients always go home without an overnight stay.

Multiple proceedures during one O.R session

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Your age,health status, and risk factors are important considerations. Depending on the unit and the timing of the proceedures an overnight stay is often advisable. The surgeon's experience and comfort with multiple proceedures also plays a role. finally, an auto transfusion can often make for a smoother recovery.

Barry H. Dolich, MD (Retired)
Bronx Plastic Surgeon

Have an "out" plan

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Discuss your fears with your doctor. I would say that complications rate do go up when combining procedures, but the complication rate can be kept low if several guidelines are followed:

1. you are healthy to begin with

2. your blood count does not show anemia to begin with

3. your surgeon has an assistant to help keep the time in surgery to a minimum

4. pneumatic compression devices are used to minimize your chances of clots in your legs

5. your surgeon has been instructed by you to evaluate matters after each procedure and he/she is not afraid to say "enough for this time" rather than push to completion if your blood loss has been too much during the first procedure.

Best of luck.

Francisco Canales, MD
Santa Rosa Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 35 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.