How Can I Prevent Getting Short of Breath After Tummy Tuck?

I have read about people getting short of breath after having a tummy tuck. I am having one on April 7th and is there anything I can do to prevent that problem? Thanks

Doctor Answers 8

Tummy Tuck and Shortness of Breath

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

All major abdominal operations, Tummy Tuck being one, cause abdominal pain. In turn, this results in splinting and fear of full expansion of the chest and taking deep breaths. The result of breathing shallow breaths (especially when lying down VS being upright) is incomplete expansion of the lower lung made worse by upward pressure on the diaphragm and compression of the lower parts of the lungs causing collapse (IE ATELECTASIS), fever and pneumonia.

The BEST way to avoid shortness of breath is to take deep slow breaths while being upright to keep your lungs open. This will prevent lower lobe collapse, fevers and pneumonias.

Memphis Plastic Surgeon

Walk this way

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Shortness of breath after a tummy tuck can be due to a number of things. The main reason for shortness of breath would be a blood clot (pulmonary embolus). The best way for you to prevent this dreaded complication would be to walk after your surgery. This keeps the muscles of the legs moving blood to your heart thus preventing blood from becoming stagnant and clotting. This is the most important thing you can do.

Breathing after tummy tuck

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

You may notice some restriction to taking a deep breath after your tummy tuck (secondary to having the abdominal muscles tightened), which should just last a week, but you should not actually feel short of breath or have trouble breathing. If you do notice that, you should contact your surgeon immediately. Best wishes, /nsn.

Short of breath after Tummy Tuck

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

This will help:  1. Practice deep breathing While holding a pillow against your tummy. 2.gradually increase your activity by walking and working on your posture 3.Try to be patient!


Burr von Maur, MD
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 22 reviews

Short of breath after tummy tuck

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Being short of breast in and of itself is not a bad thing. However, it could be a sign of a bad underlying problem such as pulmonary edema, pulmonary embolus, anemia, atelectasis, etc. IF you are a smoker, cancel surgery now. IF not do all you can to minimize a blood clot and discuss this with your surgeon. Perform deep breathing exercises after surgery including gentle coughing. Increase your activity as permitted by your surgeon. IF you become suddenly short of breath after surgery, notify your surgeon immediately.

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

Preventing getting short of breath after tummy tuck

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Great question and I fully agree with Dr. Aldea's statements. And recommend you follow them. Discuss this issue with the operating surgeon.

From MIAMI Dr. B

I would recommend a "Pain Pump" - it helps tremendously!

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

One of the things that adds to the feeling of shortness of breath, in addition to Dr Aldea's description of Splinting, is the tightening of your abdominal muscles. This places additional pressure on your diaphragm making it a more difficult for your diaphragm to move down and take a deep breath. This always gets better though.

The best thing you can do is to remain calm and take your pain medication. The less pain you are having, the easier breathing will be. That is why I always use a pain pump for tummy tucks. This continually drips a numbing medication in the area of the tummy tuck taking away the majority of your pain and therefore the cause of your splinting and shortness of breath.

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.