How Many Deaths Occur From Tummy Tucks?

I really want a tummy tuck but what scares me is for their to be a complication like a blood clot, infection etc or not to wake up anymore, has that happened before with any of your patients?

Doctor Answers 10

Death with tummy tuck

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Death after tummy tuck is exceptionally rare.  It usually is secondary to a blood clot; which may occur after any surgery.  I place all my tummy tuck patients on early ambulation and a blood thinner after surgery to help prevent this issue.   Donald R. Nunn MD  Atlanta Plastic Surgeon.

Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 51 reviews

Death after Abdominoplasty

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As already stated, this is a very unusual complication from tummy-tuck.  However, every so often, a rare and unexpected complication can result in this.  Generally, if you see a board certified plastic surgeon and the necessary precautions are taken, it is more likely that you will have a serious automobile accident on the way to the hospital to have your surgery than to die from a tummy-tuck!  In Austin, there was a recent case where a plastic surgeon did a huge tummy-tuck, excessive amount of liposuction, and that resulted in a death.  It was clear that too much was done at one time.  Patients should be of reasonable size and have reason expectations and things almost always go well.

Death From Tummy Tuck Surgery-How Rare Is It?

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Recent data from American Society of Plastic Surgery has reported a death rate of 1 in 50,000 for out patient elective surgery.

In comparison, the risk of death while driving is 1 in 5,000!  This means your chance of dying while driving is TEN times higher than undergoing elective out patient surgery IF you choose a board certified plastic surgeon who is safe and competent, and operates in an accredited surgery center.

So do your home work before committing!

Michael A. Jazayeri, MD
Santa Ana Plastic Surgeon

In right setting risk is minimal!

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Never had a patient with a fatal complication. However, rather than looking for statistics on the subject, make sure to research the place and the surgeon you are planning for your procedure. Following simple rules will save you from worrying about the death rate from the procedure. First of all make sure your surgeon is board certified plastic surgeon and shows many years of experience in tummy tuck surgery. Ask for the gallery-no good pictures, more likely no results. The facility should be fully accredited with hospital type safety. Make sure there is highly trained and experienced anesthesiologist on the staff. By following all the above you should feel safe about the place you choose. In our place anesthesiologist perform deep sedation rather general anesthesia - less chance for serious complications! 

Tummy tucks and safety

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Your concerns are very common, however you should make an appt to see a local BCPS to discuss your concerns.  Tummy tucks are safely done everyday and the risks of a major complication are quite small. 

Deaths from tummy tucks

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they are quite rare fortunately. properly performed surgery and mobilization after the procedure minimizes the risks of blood clots. properly performed surgery minimizes infection and skin losses therefore not requiring repeat procedures and bed rest.

Rick Rosen, MD
Norwalk Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

Death can occur, usually from blood clot. Prevention is key.

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Deaths do occur from time to time after tummy tucks, not usually during a tummy tuck.  The most common cause of postoperative death is a pulmonary embolus resulting from a blood clot forming in your thigh.  So it is important to reduce the risk of this problem by (1) making sure you don't have a contraindication to surgery, (2) avoiding paralysis of your muscles during surgery and prone positioning, (3) using sequential compression devices during surgery, and (4) getting up walking quickly after surgery.  Keep in mind, you can develop a blood clot even without surgery.  I believe that if all these precautions are taken, your risk is not much more than your 'baseline" risk without surgery.  Other important factors are surgeon experience and a licensed facility.  Be sure to talk openly about all your concerns with your doctor.  Usually, the better informed you are the less you will worry.

Eric Swanson, MD
Kansas City Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 62 reviews

How Many Deaths Occur From Tummy Tucks?

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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.

Deaths from tummy tucks

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It's great that you are thinking about surgery and complications, since this is something that you will want to discuss with your surgeon and feel comfortable with.  While very rare, all surgeries carry a small risk of bad complications like the ones you mention.  That is why it is so important to make sure that your surgeon is board certified  in plastic surgery, you have your procedure done in an accredited facility, and you tell him or her about your medical history and medications.   Don't feel afraid to bring up these concerns with your doctor - they should always be discussed  before surgery as part of informed consent. 

Risk of Serious Complications after Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck) should be Very Low

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Hi there-

Because it is an elective procedure performed for the sole purpose of making you happier with your appearance, it really doesn't make any sense to take unnecessary risks in order to have a Tummy Tuck, right?

So, understanding that there will always be some risks to any surgical procedure, we can responsibly say to you that-

if you are a healthy person without significant medical problems, and if the circumstances surrounding your surgery are optimal (surgeon certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery, accredited surgical facility, Board Certified Anesthesiologist), the risk of a significant complication during or after your tummy tuck should be very very low.

I personally believe that the common life threatening risk after abdominoplasty is ENTIRELY preventable (blood clot in the leg)- but the degree to which your risks are affected by your choices cannot be overstated.

In the right hands, your tummy tuck should be a very safe and satisfying experience (provided you are healthy and a good candidate). Good luck!

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.