What is Safe Time to Be Under Anesthesia?

Hello, I will be having surgery on 8/2/12, I'm concerned about the time my PS said I would be under 7.5 hours. He will be performing a tummy tuck with lipo to the tummy, lipo to the back and flanks, BA and BL. My lungs are a bit of a problem, I have a lot of scarring and have been under supervision from my pulmonary dr. it has taken him one year to clear this surgery. I will be having my procedure done in a hospital and will spend one night there after the surgery.

Doctor Answers 14

Length of surgery

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From your history about your lungs and the fact that the pulmonary doctor took one year to clear you for surgery is a problem.

You are not a candidate for elective surgery.

In a completely healthy individual 6 hours is what we try to limit the length of surgery.

In your case, with pulmonary probles I would worry about putting you to sleep for 2-3 hours.

Baltimore Plastic Surgeon

Safety is top priority!

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The combination of tummy tuck, breast augmentation, breast lift and liposuction can be performed in a single setting.  When these operations are performed together safety has to be every ones first priority.

                Your history of pulmonary problems and an estimated surgical time of over 7.5 hours is troubling.  Under these circumstances, it might be appropriate to modify the surgical approach.  Either utilizing a surgical team to shorten the intro-operative time or performing multiple smaller procedures may be more appropriate. 

                We believe that the length of the procedure should never exceed four to six hours.  Complications from surgery increase significantly when these numbers are exceeded.  An experienced surgeon and surgical team that focuses on efficiency can minimize the length of the surgical procedure.  We often use another surgeon as a first assistant to help with the process.

                The advantages of this approach are obvious and include improved synergy and harmony which improves the overall aesthetic result.  Patients experience one recovery rather than multiple recoveries and they potentially save money when these procedures are done in combination.

                Combination surgery isn’t for everyone.  Some patients like yourself have coexisting health problems which may prevent this approach.  Meeting with a board certified plastic surgeon will help sort this out and help formulate the best treatment plan for you.  In some cases, it may not be appropriate to undergo cosmetic surgery.

Safety of anesthesia

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I am concerned about your pulmonary history.   I generally tell patients that if they are asking whether their medical problems allow cosmetic surgery to still be safe, they need to seriously consider the risk to benefits of a procedure.

Without knowing your exact condition and severity, I cannot make recommendations to whether your procedure is appropriate or needs to be shortened.   I ask that you visit carefully with your physicians and even get a 2nd opinion to ensure that you are making the best decision.


I wish you a safe and healthy recovery.


Dr. Gill

Paul S. Gill, MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 94 reviews

Long Surgery Time!

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That is a lot of surgery to do at one time and I think you definitely have to stay in the hospital overnight after that much surgery. 

Robert N. Young, MD, FACS
San Antonio Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 73 reviews

Pulmonary Problems And Cosmetic Surgery

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7-1/2 hours for a young, healthy person to have the surgeries you are having sounds just about right to me.  Unfortunately, Murphy's Law even applies to cosmetic surgery at times.  I think your question is a good one to ask, and my recommendation is you give yourself a break, do the most important surgery first, maybe abdominoplasty and liposuction, recover for 6 months, and if all went great, go ahead and do the second surgery.  You didn't get all that loose skin and fat in one day, therefore you don't have to get rid of it all in one day. 

Clearance for surgery

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As long as you're cleared by the appropriate doctors, you should be okay.  However, if you have any concerns you may want to think about dividing your surgeries up into 2-3 sessions instead of one big one.

Plastic surgery with health problems

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It sounds like you have significant lung problems. You should discuss this with a Pulmonologist. My guess is that it would be safest to break up your goals into two smaller procedures. Also, sometimes just a tummy tuck can tighten the tummy enough to make it more difficult to breath (it raises the diaphragm). Be prepared.

Safe time under anesthesia

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A 7.5 hour procedure on a sick patient is too long.  There are a couple of issues at work here.  The first is that 7.5 hrs is a long surgery for procedures that you are talking about having.  There are a good number of surgeons who can do it several hours quicker. How severe are your lung  issues?  Do you really want to jeopardize your life for this surgery?  Think about getting a second opinion.


Good luck,and thank you for the question.




Anire Okpaku MD

Anire Okpaku, MD FACS
Miami Plastic Surgeon

Cosmetic surgery & health problems

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You have to remember that this type of surgery is all voluntary, and that risking your life to have everything done at once isn't something I'd recommend that my patients do.

If you've been cleared for surgery, I would suggest you pick one of the procedures that most concerns you and do that first, realizing that it may be the only one that you can do if any problems arise. Have it done in a hospital with your pulmonologist around to manage any lung problems after surgery.

Remember, this type of surgery is totally elective and not worth dying over.  You don't want to be a headline.

Hope this helps,

Dr. Hall

Jason J. Hall, MD, FACS
Knoxville Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

Safe time under anesthesia

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From your history, you would be wise to break up your surgery into at least two shorter procedures.  You will probably recover faster than if one long procedure is done.  This may cost more than doing one long procedure, but would be safer and less costly in the long run  than if you had serious pulmonary problems post operatively.

Leonard T. Yu, MD
Maui 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.