Are PE & DVT's always deadly?

Hi I'm getting tummy tuck and lipo on March 28th. I am very scared of getting a blood clot. So my question is are PE & DVT always deadly or can they treat it?? I know my PS will be using blood thinners but I'm still scared about blood clots. I remember being scared when I got my gastric sleeve also, but now I'm more scared because I know this surgery will take longer. Thank you in advance for the advice.

Doctor Answers 6

Are PE & DVT's always deadly?

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A pulmonary embolus, a clot that breaks loose from a DVT and travels to the lung, is serious but extremely rare. I've done hundreds of TTs over the last 30 years and the only patient I know of who had a problem laid still in bed for days at the suggestion of her friends rather than moving around as we instructed. Your chances of dying while driving to the Mall is higher than you risk of death from this surgery if you are otherwise healthy.

Portland Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

Pulmonary Embolism / Deep Vein Thrombosis

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Thank you for your question. DVT's alone are not deadly and they can be treated. However when a DVT dislodges and travels to the lungs it becomes a Pulmonary Embolis (PE) which can be deadly depending on the size of the embolis (thrombus/clot). 
If the embolis is small it can go unnoticed and you won't have any symptoms. If the embolis is large enough you can have symptoms such as chest pain, difficulty breathing and even sudden death.
It is important to take precautions to prevent DVT formation such as Sequential Compression Devices on your legs durning surgery and in some instances an anticoagulant called Lovenox. 
Talk to your board certified plastic surgeon about his methods to minimize DVT formation durning and after surgery.

Enrique Hanabergh, Jr., MD
Aventura Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 89 reviews

Complications of tummy tuck

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  • DVT (deep vein thrombosis, blood clot) is not in itself deadly - only if the clot breaks loose,
  • PE (Pulmonary emboli, blood clots in the lungs) are usually not deadly - but definitely can be,
  • Blood thinners are a good idea,
  • Discuss your concerns with your plastic surgeon for further advice and
  • Get up and around several times a day - even though it hurts - starting right after surgery.
  • Best wishes.

Risk of blood clots after surgery- Tummy tuck

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Thanks for your question.

Prevention of risks during and after surgery is extremely important in my practice and we take proactive measures to prevent them.  Thankfully with good prophylaxis the incidence of blood clots is low.

Overall,  the incidence of DVT/PE in a patient with no risk factors is less than 1%.  The most effective preventive measure is early walking after surgery.

I hope this is helpful

Steven M. Camp, MD
Fort Worth Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 121 reviews


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I understand your fear.  The incidence of DVT/PE in a patient with no risk factors is less than 1%.  DVT/PE is not always fatal if diagnosed in a timely fashion.  The most effective preventive measure is early ambulation (walking).  



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DVT (deep vein thrombosis) and PE (pulmonary embolism) are rare complications from surgery.  There are many risk factors such as age, BMI (body mass index), length of surgery, family history, hormone therapy, etc. that increase your risk of having a VTE (venous thromboembolism) such as a DVT or PE.  DVTs do not always progress to PEs and PEs are not always deadly.  There is treatment available, depending on what and where the clot is.  It is best to follow your surgeon's advice about walking regularly after surgery and doing toe-up exercises when resting.  It is not recommended to return home from surgery and lay down for long periods of time. 

Emily J. Kirby, MD
Fort Worth 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.