Cosmetic Surgery After Cancer?

I am 34 years old and 10 years ago I had a ovarian cancer followed by a complete hysterectomy I also suffered a pulmonary embolism. I am not currently on any medications and am completely cured of my cancer. However from the surgury,scars, and chemo it has left my body in ruins. And now I am considering a tummy tuck and breast enlargement. However people have told me because of my history I would not be able to get this done. Is this true?

Doctor Answers 14

Pulmonary embolism history and cosmetic surgery

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With the limited information in your post it is impossible to completely answer your questions. Cancer alone does not preclude the surgery you are contemplating, especially since you are cured and not on any medications.

Safety should be your first priority followed by results of your cosmetic surgery. The history of pulmonary embolism is of particular concern since you are at risk of having another. Surviving cancer, especially one as deadly as ovarian cancer, only to die from a pulmonary embolism after cosmetic surgery would be tragic. You need to first be assessed for risk of blood clots. Then if you do not need a filter placed to filter out clots you would most likely need treatment with low molecular weight heparin around the time of surgery.

Because the risk of blood clots is also related to how long you are on the operating table a decision needs to be made how much surgery is safe for you at one sitting.

Finally you and your surgeon need to decide if you are sufficiently high risk to warrant that your surgery be done in a hospital rather than an office surgery center.

Take your time, do your homework and proceed cautiously and you should do well.

My response to your question/post does not represent formal medical advice or constitute a doctor patient relationship. You need to consult with i.e. personally see a board certified plastic surgeon in order to receive a formal evaluation and develop a doctor patient relationship.

Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon

Cosmetic Surgery after Cancer and Pulmonary Embolus History

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Congratulations on being cancer free and healthy!  As long as you are cleared by your oncologist to proceed with elective surgery, then you are a candidate.  But big concern would be your history of a pulmonary embolus.  I would recommend you visit with your hematologist to make sure you do not have a hypercoagulable state (a condition where your blood tends to clot and increase your risk for DVT/PE).  In addition, I would likely recommend Lovenox (blood thinner) to further minimize your risk of a blood clot recurrence.  Careful review of your medical history is warranted.  So do not rush into surgery. Get the proper workup so you can weigh the pro's and con's of proceeding with surgery.  Best of luck.

Dr. Basu

Houston, TX

Mommy Makeover after Cancer

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Thank you for your question.   Based on your history, I think you are a candidate for a breast lift and tummy tuck.  I do recommend that you visit with your medical oncologist to ensure you are cleared for a cosmetic procedure.  They will also be able to provide evaluation and clearance in regards to your previous pulmonary embolism.

You will most likely be provided with an anticoagulant in the peri-operative period along with leg compression devices to minimize your risk of DVT.


I wish you a safe and healthy recovery. 

Paul S. Gill, MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 94 reviews

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A history of cancer does not mean that you cannot have cosmetic surgery.

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Thank you for your question.

A history of  cancer does not mean that you cannot have cosmetic surgery.  Your doctors will have to take your medical history into consideration when recommending safety precautions for you to minimize the chances of complications including DVT/PE.

To be sure, see two or more board-certified plastic surgeons in your area for a full and complete evaluation to make sure you are a good candidate and that it is safe for you to have surgery.  I hope this helps.

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

Cosmetic surgery after cancer.

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Cosmetic surgery is possible as long as you are healthy now.  However, you are at a higher risk for DVT/PE given your previous history of cancer and PE. Before any elective (cosmetic) surgery, you want to be evaluated and cleared by your medical physician as well as hematologist.  Good luck to you.

Cosmetic surgery is indeed possible after cancer!

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Everything in life has risks, even driving our car to the grocery store. Heavens forbid that we consider it an "unnecessary risk" to take a ride through a scenic countryside. Or cross a street to visit a flower garden!

So too with your cancer history, pulmonary embolism, and (somewhat) increased risks for elective "unnecessary" cosmetic surgery. Who gets to decide what risks you consider worthwhile, and just what are those risks?

Certainly, you need clearance from a general medical standpoint, and consideration of several anti-embolic measures is critical, but your increased risks are not necessarily prohibitive of elective surgery.

No plastic surgeon wishes to be the unwitting victim of unbridled enthusiasm for elective surgery trumping real and serious concerns about increased risks. Get a true feeling for just what these risks really are, and find a surgeon empathetic to your situation. I suspect you can have a safe and uneventful cosmetic surgery including both breast augmentation and tummy tuck. Yes, there are (increased) risks. And maybe you will decide you would rather take a cruise than have cosmetic surgery. But everything worthwhile in life has some degree of risk; if you, your spouse, your physicians, and your plastic surgeon all agree it is OK to accept those risks, then God bless, good luck, and best wishes! Dr. Tholen

Richard H. Tholen, MD, FACS
Minneapolis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 263 reviews

Cosmetic surgery

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You need to know thatyou are at a higher risk for deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary emboli. That is because you have a history of cancer, and a history of pulmonary emboli, that will put you at a high risk. In my practice we will need a medical clearance and preferably a hematology clearance and a hypercoaguability blood work. Plus any other special work ups needed as per your history and physical exam. Then you need to discuss the medication used to thin the blood after surgery, when it should be started and for how long after the sugery.

Once you have the discussion with your plastic surgeon and thee plan for prophylaxis and risks and complications then you can make an informed decision

Samir Shureih, MD
Baltimore Plastic Surgeon

Cosmetic Surgery after Cancer

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Your medical doctor will need to do a thorough evaluation to determine whether you can have clearance for surgery, particularly with regards to your history of pulmonary embolism.  A consultation with a board certified plastic surgeon will help decide which operations may be appropriate for you.

Arnold S. Breitbart, MD, FACS
Long Island Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 160 reviews

TT + Breast Aug post-cancer / Abdomen + Implantes post-cancer

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Thank you for your question, and I'm happy for your success in your fight against cancer. If you've been 10 years without disease, you can enjoy a normal life. Even though a through examination by a board certified plastic surgeon is mandatory for yours, or any case; I'd say that if you get all your pre-op evaluations done, and you pass all the pre-op evaluations needed from other fellow physicians, then you should be good to go. You just have to make sure that you don't rush anything, and get all the evaluations needed in order to go to surgery in a safely manner


Spanish Translation Provided By Doctor:

Gracias por tu pregunta, y me alegro por tu éxito en la lucha contra el cáncer. Si llevas 10 años libre de enfermedad, entiendo que conllevas una vida totalmente normal. Yo diría que si se te realizan todas las evaluaciones prequirúrgicas de lugar, recibiendo evaluaciones prequirúrgicas de las demás especialidades que intervinieron en tu caso y te dieron el visto bueno, pues no debiera de haber problema alguno en llevarte a cirugía. No obstante, nada sustituye una consulta personal en tu caso, ni en cualquier otro caso, así que lo recomendable, antes de que tomes una decisión final con tu caso, es visitar un cirujano plástico certificado que te de una visión personalizada de lo que te conviene.

Rafael E. Estevez Hernandez, MD
Dominican Republic Plastic Surgeon

Cosmetic Surgery After Cancer?

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You can most likely have cosmetic surgery after cancer, but safety must remain the priority.  Your surgeon will be part of a team in the best case scenario.  A hematologist should be involved to evaluate for a hypercoaguable state, your oncology (cancer) team should also be team members and of course the anesthesiologist for the procedure.  You can proceed, but carefully and with a well coordinated team.
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.