What Are the Chances of Having a Blood Clot After a Tummy Tuck?

Also how long do you have to worry about a blood clot after a tummy tuck? This is the ONLY thing that is holding me back from doing this.( Even though I do have a date set, I wake up so worried about a blood clot) Both of my parents passed due to infection after surgery, but they were both not in good health. I am in great health, 45 years old. Your thoughts are much appreciated.

Doctor Answers 2

Blood Clot (DVT) risk and Tummy Tuck

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Great question.  I'm glad you are thinking about how to prevent blood clots following any surgery.  There have been several studies on this exact topic of DVT risk in plastic surgery procedures.  In fact, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons has a Venous Thromboembolism Task Force that has systematically reviewed this matter in detail.  Multiple studies have shown the risk of a blood clot from a tummy tuck or related procedure is well below 1%.   To help plastic surgeons select patients who may or may not need Lovenox (or some form of blood thinners to help prevent blood clots, there are published guidelines to aide in patient selection (known as the Caprini/Davison risk assessment model (RAM).    Ultimately, your plastic surgeon will determine the need for Lovenox based on 1) your health status and past medical history and risk factors and 2) length of your procedure(s).   Most PS utilize SCDs (massage boots) and early ambulation as the mainstay for their blood clot prophalaxis. Others also opt to add on Lovenox as well.

Overall, tummy tuck procedures are VERY safe in healthy patients.   Early ambulation after your procedure is very important too.  Please talk to your board certified plastic surgeon about your concerns.
Best wishes,

Dr. Basu
Houston, TX

Blood clot risk after a tummy tuck.

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Blood clot with pulmonary embolism is the most feared complication after abdominoplasty.  Published rates of DVT vary from about 0.4% to 3%.  There are certain patients and risk factors that increase these risks which are discussed at the time of a consultation.  

There are a few things that can be done to help reduce this risk as low as possible including anticoagulation prophylaxis, sequential compression devices, limiting the extent of other procedures done at the same time, early ambulation, and not using general anesthesia for the procedure when possible.   Of these I prefer all but the first as there is some increased risk of bleeding and associated complications with anticoagulation.  

There is a trend for many plastic surgeons to do these procedures under sedation rather than general anesthesia and the studies to date looking at DVT rates have been very supportive.  I have seen a significant reduction in my own DVT rate for abdominoplasty without general anesthesia in the range of 0.02%. 

-York Yates MD, Utah.

York Jay Yates, MD
Salt Lake City Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 189 reviews

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