Does Sneezing or Coughing Affect Tummy Tuck Sutures?

How does coughing or sneezing affect one's sutures after a Tummy Tuck?

Doctor Answers 3

Sneezing and coughing a bit painful after tummy tuck, and best to minimize if possible

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Hi there-

After a tummy tuck, you will feel a sharp and burning pain when and if you sneeze and/or cough, for a few weeks after surgery. This is normal, expected, and caused by a stretching of the sutures placed in your muscle layer that occurs with the act of coughing and sneezing. I usually advise my patients to keep a pillow handy, and when they feel a sneeze or cough coming on, place it over the abdomen and press inward with your arms, to minimize the stretching effect of the sneeze or cough. In most cases, the minor stretching caused does no harm to you or the outcome from your surgery.

Rarely, if coughing and/or sneezing is prolonged and/or particularly forceful, it is possible that you could rupture your suture line- this would require another procedure to repair the muscle layer. It's best, therefore, to minimize this risk by using the pillow technique described, not having this procedure if you've been ill, and taking medications for sneezing and coughing if you become ill after the surgery during the recovery period.

I hope that answered your question.

Does Sneezing or Coughing Affect Tummy Tuck Sutures?

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Early out of tummy tuck surgery, the concern with your description would be, the potential for disruption of sutures that are holding the abdominal wall muscles together in the midline.
In general, it would take a significant amount of pressure to “tear" the muscle repair after tummy tuck surgery. This event would likely be associated with significant discomfort. A change in your physical examination, such as increased swelling, bleeding, a new onset "bulge" would also be likely.
Generally speaking, abdominal wall muscle plication performed during tummy tuck surgery is quite secure; disruption is very unusual. You will be best off following up with your plastic surgeon who will be your best resource when it comes to accurate assessment, advice, and/or meaningful reassurance.
Best wishes.

Don't hold it in

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Believe it or not sneezing can develop a lot of force. Sneezing is an involuntary action. It is best to not hold it in. You can generate a lot of force by trying to stop a sneeze.

Robert Vitolo, MD
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon

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.