I Am Obese. Are the Possibe Post Op Complications of a Tummy Tuck Worth the Risk?

Below is a link to my previous post so you can see body pics. http://www.realself.com/question/tummy-tuck-realisitc-time1 We are moving to Tucson Az in a few weeks and I want to know if I am ready to get a TT. I don't want it to lose lbs but to gain a better overall body image. I think losing this flap that hangs over my pants would give me the confidence to get in the gym more and work harder than I do now.My question is are the possible complications life threatening or can I proceed?

Doctor Answers 7

Resolve obesity before having a tummy tuck

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I went back and looked at your pictures and you don't look like you weigh over 200 lbs. However, I would recommend that you lose more of your excess weight before having surgery. Yes, some of the risks can be life-threatening, particularly blood clots in your legs that can migrate to your heart and lungs. The risk of this happening goes down as you lose weight.  Patients that want surgery to 'kick-start' them to exercise and lose weight rarely are successful. It is always better to lose the extra weight before surgery. Your results will be better, your risks go down and you are just a healthier person with a lower body mass index (BMI) in the 20's.

Columbus Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 40 reviews

Tummy tucks in BMIs near 40

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If you ask surgeons is tummy tuck safe in the obese, they will say; no. If you ask them do you do it, they will all say; yes. Here is the real issue. I was fat once and I had surgery without any complications. Yes I was a higher risk, but I had no other risk factors. I had quit smoking, I was well nourished, my heart was fine and I didn't have signes of apnea. If all the above is true for you; go for it. Make sure the surgeon is board certified in plastic surgery not just cosmetic surgery. Make sure the minimal surgery is done (as described above) take clotting precautions like sub-q heparin early mobilization and compression stockings...and you will do well. Any surgery involves risks, but some times we need a kick in the butt to regain our control over our body. And good luck. 

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

Risks of surgery

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There will always be risks associated with surgery and obesity definitely is one of them.  It sounds as though you are doing the right things and surgery will most likely change your life. Talk at length with a board certified plastic surgeon and he may evaluate the risks and benefits with you.

Tummy Tucks and Obesity

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Dear LoveMyLife87 in Okinawa:

From you pictures, you have a significant amount of skin excess in the lower abdomen. This will improve with a tummy tuck. The fullness above the belly button may or may not improve, a brief examination would be able to determine which is more likely. The best way to get specific information is to make an appointment with a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon.

For all types of surgery, there is an increase in risk when patients are obese. The risk are the same as for someone who is not obese, but the chance of something happening are slightly, but measurable increased. Risks may be increased more by other lifestyle choices such as smoking. Risks include everything from operative infections to deep vein thrombisis and even death, but more information is needed to provide you with a framework.

It is important that these risks be evaluated on an individual basis. Your risks depend on all aspects of your health and the type of surgery. While obese people as a group are at higher risk for complications, it is not a homogeneous group, and some obese people are more healthy than others.

Joseph Mele, MD
Walnut Creek Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Obesity and surgical risk

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When evaluating someone for body contouring a valuable measurement is the body mass index or BMI. This relates your weight to the surface area of your body.

In contouring surgery, ideal patients have a BMI below 30. As the BMI increases so does the risk of complications after surgery. These are things like delayed wound healing and post operative infections to mention a few.

The complication rate shows critical increases once the BMI exceeds 35. Most physicians will encourage if not demand further weight loss for elective cosmetic contouring surgeries for this group. Your BMI is 35.2.

Seek out a board certified plastic surgeon to evaluate and review this information with you.

I hope this was helpful. Good luck

Robert W. Kessler, MD, FACS
Corona Del Mar Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 130 reviews

Obesity and Tummy Tuck

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I was unable to find your pictures but will answer based on your claim that you are obese. There are several factors which are important to know, such as how realistic it is for you to lose weight and are you considering lap band or other procedures to assist you in weight loss. The risk factors can be very high when considering abdominoplasty in an obese patient. Removal of the "apron" or Panniculus would be safer. Then you could have the complete abdominoplasty later if you are successful in reaching your weight loss goal. I suggest you discuss this with a board certified plastic surgeon in Tucson. Best of luck!

William H. Gorman, MD
Austin Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

Tummy Tuck if Obese?

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Thank you for the question.

Generally, it is best to be at a long-term stable weight prior to undergoing any type of body  contouring surgery.

However, exceptions can be made;  if the patient is otherwise medically stable then removal of significant excess tissue ( for example with breast reduction and/or panniculectomy)  may significantly improve the patient's lifestyle and ability to increase exercise ( and "jumpstart" their continued weight loss). These patients should understand that their  chances of needing further surgery are increased compared to patients who have achieved a long-term stable weight prior to the body contouring surgery.

I hope this helps.

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.