Pulmonary Embolism After Tummy Tuck & Lipo. Is It Possible After 20 Days from Surgery?

Clots in right leg and both lungs. Diagnostic: pulmonary embolism. Symptoms (pain & shortness of breath mostly) on day 20 after surgery.

Doctor Answers 12

Pulmonary Embolism

A pulmonary embolism is certainly possible 20 days post liposuction and tummy tuck. The clot may form in the leg(s) early in the postoperative period and dislodge to become a pulmonary embolism far later in the postoperative course.


Boca Raton Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

Pulmonary Embolus Is Possible 20 Days Or More Post-op

Thrombo-embolic events following elective plastic surgery are rare but can occur 20 days following tummy tucks or even later.  Most surgeons take various precautions to lessen the chances of this occurence but it still can happen.  These problems seem to occur at a slightly higher rate in patients undergoing tummy tucks who have previously undergone bariatric surgery.

John Whitt, MD (retired)
Louisville Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

Pulmonary Embolism After Tummy Tuck & Lipo. Is It Possible After 20 Days from Surgery?

Yes it can occur! Please seek immediate medical attention and possible in hospital care. If in Miami see your doctor ASAP or I would be happy to help you. 

Blood Clots After Surgery

Most blood clots that form after surgery develop during surgerys or shortly after while the patient is bedridden.  That is one of the reasons we encourage people to get up and start walking so soon.  It may not have caused you pain until it dislodged from your leg and traveled to your lung.  Your body was at work breaking down the clot all that time.  Three weeks is not too far out to see it travel to your lung.  There are undoubtedly many people whose clots dissolve in their leg and never cause a problem.  Rarely, they present as sudden death.  It is unfortunate that you experienced this complication, but fantastic that you are all right.  There are a number of factors that can contribute to DVT's and PE's.  Explore the possible risks (like hormone treatments, obesity) so you can avoid it happening again in the future.   Clots can develop during long plane flights and car rides, too.  I would recommend you get a full work up by your primary care phycisian and possibly a hematologist to identify any clotting disorders.

Lori H. Saltz, MD
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
4.3 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

Pulmonary embolism is possible 20 days after tummy tuck and liposuction.

Surgery and (relative) inactivity during recovery can increase the risk of blood clots forming in the legs, even if precautions are taken in the operating room (such as active anti-embolic pressure boots or leggings). Regardless of when the clots formed, as you resume more normal activity levels, the clots can partially dissolve and can "break off" and then travel in your blood stream to your lungs. (In rare cases of persistent congenital hole in the heart between pumping chambers, clots could also travel to the arterial circulation and cause a heart attack or stroke.) These are risks that any of us undergoing surgery will have, but other risk factors can increase the likelihood of blood clots forming, even in non-surgical settings.

These include genetic or inherited clotting disorders such as Factor V Leiden (search "Factor V Leiden" on this site for my answer about this topic), obesity, hormone use (birth control), smoking, excessive immobility such as airline flights or long car rides, and a host of possible hematologic abnormalities that can show up in the form of clots and pulmonary emboli.

Appropriate responses to your diagnosis are Hematology work-up, blood thinners, and possible other recommendations specific to your individual situation. I'm glad you're doing well; this is something that can happen to any of us or any of our patients, even without surgery. Good luck and continued best wishes!

Richard H. Tholen, MD, FACS
Minneapolis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 240 reviews

Pulmonary embolism and tummy tuck

Yes, this is possible.  You probably developed the clot in your leg during or shortly after surgery.  It likely dislodged and travelled to the lungs more recently.  This is certainly a risk with any surgery- slighly higher with tummy tuck surgery-.  Hopefully you are on some type of blood thinner (lovenox or coumadin) and getting a hematology work up to rule out genetic issues that predispose you to developing clots.  Other risk factors are listed above in Dr. Aldea's post.  Good luck! Dr. McCormack

Pulmonary embolism

Unfortunately pulmonary embolism can occur upto six weeks after major surgery or period of immobilisation. Please seek appropriate treatment. Hope you get better soon.

Anindya Lahiri, FRCS (Plast)
Birmingham Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 25 reviews

Pulmonary Embolism After Tummy Tuck & Lipo. Is It Possible After 20 Days from Surgery?

Yes - As hard as it may be to believe a blood clot in the deep veins (Deep Venous Thrombosis) which may become dislodged and travel (embolus) to the lungs (PE) may be seen up to a month after surgery.

Vein clots may be formed as result of genetics (certain mutations make some people more prone to clotting), taking certain medications (hormones, birth control pills etc), having occult cancer, smoking, obesity, surgery longer than 2 hours among others. At this point you would probably need to be treated with blood thinners to help break the clots up. I would bet your doctors are also working you up for any genetic disease associated with increased clotting.

Good Luck.

Dr. Peter A Aldea

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 102 reviews

Tummy Tuck

This is possible if your activity level was too low, and you had other risk factors.  You will need to be speaking with an Internist, Pulmonologist, Hematologist, your surgeon, and any others they feel need to be a part of your recovery.

Vivek Bansal, MD
Danville Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 25 reviews

Blood clots 20 days out

Yes this is possible.Post op I try to get my patients walking and ambulatory and NOT sitting around to increase blood flow and circulation in your lower extremities.

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.