Depression/ Moodiness After Tummy Tuck

I had a tummy tuck 2 1/2 weeks. It has gone much better than I expected and I assume I will be delighted with the end result. In the past few days I have been very easy to upset, sad, crying over stupid stuff and "flying off the handle" in a manner that is very unusual for me. I have to return to work(tough job) and really feel that I need another week or two go get myself together- but this is not an option. Does any of this make any sense and do you have any suggestions that might help?

Doctor Answers 12

Moodiness after surgery

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It is not unheard of at all.  We see it frequently and have no real explanation.  We do know that medications given at surgery can interfere with your usual "status quo."  Steroids are sometimes given in surgery for a variety of reasons. These can throw off your usual hormonal cycle as can just the stress of surgery and recovery.  So we see it happen, don't know why and it goes away.  Just stay in close contact with your doctor about any of your issues so they can handle them the way they see fit.

Reston Plastic Surgeon

Depression and moodiness after tummy tuck, but back to work

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There are so many causes of moodiness and frustration after a tummy tuck. Facing the facts though, after two weeks you just now are feeling 'normal' though life is not. The house is a mess, the kids out of control, your spouse went back to work a week ago with no help at home, the medication is messing with your mind, you aren't sleeping well yet, things look good though you are not ready for the red carpet, AND its time to go back to work. Not just time, you HAVE to. 

You are my hero and being a hero is far from easy. You deserve to be moody, and it will take several weeks to get it back together. Cut back on the pain medication, try ibuprofen, and make a short list of must dos, and take the challenges one item at a time. Sorry about work, but it is nice to be needed.

Best of luck,


Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 44 reviews

Depression/ Moodiness After Tummy Tuck

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Thank you for the good question. Yes, significant “emotional” swings are quite commonly encountered after all types of elective surgery. The specific cause of the "postoperative depression" is not known; in my opinion, it is probably multifactorial ( factors such as stress, pain, unanticipated length of recovery, being away from usually enjoyed activities/people…).
In my experience, patients who have a history of depression may be more prone to such emotional “ups and downs”. In other words, patient personality features ( "glass half full") makes a difference when it comes to the recovery experience.
I think that it is ideal for patients to be at their best physically, mentally, and psychosocially prior to proceeding with tummy tuck or mommy makeover surgery.
I would suggest that patients do their best to occupy your mind with activities that they enjoy. For example, for our patients experiencing these types of post operative “sadness”, I suggest they walk outdoors (fresh air), see movies, read books they enjoy, seek family/friends' support…

Post surgery blues are temporary

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We actually have a diagram in our patient information packet describing the types of mood changes that can occur, and patients who experience a case of the blues then know it is normal and temporary. However, it is normally done sooner than 2 1/2 weeks postop, so perhaps there are other factors in your case. If you are used to exercising and can't get back to your routine yet, for example, that might be contributing. Anxiety over returing to a tough job when you don't feel ready would certainly explain a lot too. Your physical recovery should be accelerating over the next week or so and I expect you will do fine.

Richard Baxter, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 59 reviews

Moody after tummy tuck

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It is not unusual to be moody or the like after cosmetic surgery.It takes a period of adjustment.Many of my facelift patients feel this way.It too will pass.

Robert Brueck, MD
Fort Myers Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 70 reviews

Mood changes after surgery.

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What you are going through is not uncommon. Having surgery changes so many things in our lives - sleep disruption, stress, anxiety, postoperative pain, pain medication, and uncertainty of outcome. This can lead to mood swings and changes in how we respond to everyday occurrences. The important thing is to discuss these symptoms with your surgeon. Surgery is a major event in our lives and our minds cope with this change in many different ways. It is not unusual. However, if these symptoms do not improve, it is important to talk with your surgeon and seek help.

David Bogue, MD
Boca Raton Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Blue Mood

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760433anon in St. Louis,

I have had several patients whom having undergone very successful surgery, reported several weeks afterwards that they were quite depressed, lethargic, and just not theirselves. In effect, they were quite blue.  Though we were never able to directly identify the cause, it was probably a combination of the stress of surgery, their anesthetic, and their postoperative medications.  In all cases this resolved but it did take as long as a month.  This should be self limiting and it would be useful to make your physician and family members aware.

Marc Schneider, MD
Fort Myers Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

Post surgical depression is real

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There are a number of things that can contribute to post surgical depression including some medications, hormone disruption, lack of sleep, pain and, for you, the anxiety of returning to a difficult job before you are ready.  Talk to your surgeon.  He/she will have seen other patients in the same situation and be able to direct you.  What you are going through is tough.  Help is out there.  Reach out for it soon.

Lori H. Saltz, MD
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
4.3 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

Post Surgery Depression

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Post surgery depression is not common but does happen.  You should address your issues with your surgeon for evaluation and treatment and possible referral if needed.


Good Luck.  You will feel better.

Pain medications can cause mood alterations.

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This may be caused by the pain medications you have been taking.  Surgery will not cause mood swings.  Since you are planning to return to work, the pain medications should be replaced with a non narcotic. 

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