Fear of Death During Tummy Tuck

I am 26 years old, had two c-sections, I am going to have my tummy tuck this coming Sunday 10th July. I stopped smoking since 1st June, stopped drinking since 3 weeks, no medicaI isues,I am only 48KG in a good shape. I am so scared that I'll die during my TT, i have a feeling that I will die and I cannot stop it, is that Normal? I always wanted to do it, please Advice :( I dont want my daughter to be left alone. Please let me know if anyone had the same feeling and if i am fit for the surgery.

Doctor Answers 14

Fear of death during tummy tuck

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Your question is very common for tummy tuck patients.  I don't' think women are so afraid of dying but they are more concerned for their children.  They fear for their children in the extremely rare event of their death.  Even with a good husband at home, women are worried about their children's' well-being.  It is not uncommon for a tummy tuck patient to say right before surgery, "Just don't let me die, I have children at home".

Your anxiety is not unusual but I would make sure you are able to keep your fears under control so it does not control you.  You will need to make the best decision for you and your family.

Best Wishes

Dr. Peterson

Saint George Plastic Surgeon

Anxiety about surgery

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Most patients are at least a little anxious about surgery, especially if they don't have much experience with surgery.  On the other hand, when I had my colonoscopy under general anesthetic, someone remarked that I did not seem nervous at all, and I was not.  I have seen countless patients undergo general anesthetic, and I know that, if general anesthetic is done under the right circumstances, it is very safe.

Admittedly, a colonoscopy is not a tummy tuck, but the concept is the same.  The things to ask yourself are: how comfortable are you with the decisions about your surgeon, your anesthesiologist, and the facility?  Have you made choices based on what is the best and the safest, or have you made choices to shave off a few dollars.  Certainly, it costs less to have surgery at a lesser facility, but that comes with less help if there is a problem, and possibly less supervision and less equipment and supplies.

Similarly, it costs less to use a nurse for the anesthesia rather than a physician, but who do you want to be in charge if something turns out to be more difficult than you anticipated?

Also ask yourself if your surgeon is the most experienced available.  Sometimes a surgeon whose training does not qualify them to work in a hospital will do surgery in a lesser facility for that reason.

There is an "old nurse's tale" that a patient who says they think they are going to die, really is going to die.  I'm here to tell you that the tale is not true.  They are bringing their experience from working in a hospital.  Patients who have had heart disease or other serious medical illnesses can get a sense of impending doom from the decreased blood flow from the heart as it slows down.  Some of those patients do go on to die, and all the nurses say "They said they were going to die".  The ones who got better, the nurses forget that about the "prediction".

I have had many patients say (because I often ask what they are nervous about) that they are worried about dying from the anesthetic, and of course, none of them have.  I ask them to stop and think about the choices that led them to having surgery.  They planned, they researched, they checked credentials, they evaluated surgeons and facilities and anesthesia choices.  They had done everything they could to be sure that they were making a good choice, and they felt better.

So I recommend the same for you.  Have you done your planning and checking?  Have you checked that the surgeon who said they were board certified really is?  Has he done a lot of tummy tucks?  Has he had broad training to help him deal with unplanned problems, or just the bare minimum to get board certified?  Have you checked out the facility?  Is it a real hospital, a doctor's office, or something in between?  How about the anesthesiologist?

Think about those things, and ask yourself how you feel about your choices.  If thinking about those things makes you feel better, then take a deep breath and move forward.  If thinking about those things makes you even more nervous, then maybe it would be better to change your plan.

James Nachbar, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon

Fear of dying after or during a tummy tuck

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Don't do it, period. Wait until this fear is gone then consider having it done. I've canceled many surgeries for that very same reason. Call me superstitious, and illogical, but I trust women's instincts. Though we'll never know whether this policy has prevented any of my patients from dying; I would rather not find out! The surgery itself is safe: Minute per minute it may be safer than being on any highway, but still it's an elective procedure postpone it. 

Ayman Hakki, MD
Waldorf Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 34 reviews

Death during tummy tuck

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As a matter of fact, you are more likely to die in a car crash on the way to the surgery center than you are during your surgery.

J. Brian Boyd, MD
Rolling Hills Estates Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

Pre-Tummy tuck concerns

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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.

Death during tummy tuck

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if you cannot get the fear out of your head, cancel the surgery.  the risk is not zero and even if everything is done perfectly, the risk of dvt, pe, does exist.  either way quit the smoking for good; not just for the surgery.  you have two small children and the smoking is more likely to kill you than the abdominoplasty

Jonathan Saunders, MD
Newark Plastic Surgeon

Fear of upcoming tummy tuck

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The two c-sections you have had have about the same risks as a tummy tuck.  General anesthesia is very safe with MD anesthesiologists.  Discuss your concerns with your surgeon who may recommend anti-anxiety meds or postponing your surgery until you are in a better frame of mind.  Donald R. Nunn MD  Atlanta Plastic Surgeon.

Donald Nunn, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 51 reviews

Fear of Death During Tummy Tuck

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Anxiety vs fear are very different issues. Fear of death that is  truly making your decision on whether to have surgery or not is an unrealistic thought that needs to be discussed in detail with your surgeon. If after this discussion you still have this issue I would recommend not doing the surgery. Just my opinion. 

Fear of Death During Tummy Tuck

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based on your specs your risk appears to be acceptable. your level of anxiety is not, you need to be emotionally ready. no one can guarantee anything. you've done your homework and made important concessions for safety. now its time to proceed with a clear head. if you cannot, then cancel and revisit in the future. when in doubt, sit it out. If you were my pt I would rather have you cancel, than proceed to surgery unfit. 

Rafael C. Cabrera, MD
Boca Raton Plastic Surgeon

Fear of death from tummy tuck

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Anxiety about surgery and recovery are quite normal, however if they dominate your thoughts and alter your sleep and activity, you should change your plans, or get help. Fears out of proportion with the reality of a situation such as fear of flying need special attention.

Best of luck,


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