Can Sneezing Without Tummy Tuck Binder Ruin Results?

I sneezed without the binder on two different occasions, for bandage re-dressing and shower. I'm afraid I busted a stitch. Can you bust a stitch from a sneeze? What would it have felt like? How long would the pain have lasted? The sneeze hurt, but only for a few seconds then I was fine. My doctor said that if I busted a stitch, the Tummy Tuck will be totally ruined and I will need a whole new tummy tuck. Now I'm freaking out, my procedure wasn’t bad, but I sure as heck don’t want to do it again.

Doctor Answers 7

This is usually not subtle...

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Hi there-

It is certainly possible for you to rupture you muscle repair while forcefully contracting your muscles, as in a sneeze or cough, but this would be unlikely to occur after a single sneeze or cough, as most Board Certified Plastic Surgeons perform their repairs in a "redundant" manner, meaning that if one suture breaks, there are more in place to prevent this problem.

This is not to say that you should not be careful. The binder is important, as is supporting your abdomen when you feel a cough or sneeze coming on. Your surgeon will be able, after an examination, to tell you whether you have a problem, how likely it would be to happen (understanding how he/she did your surgery), and what would be necessary to correct the issue if it occurred.

Having said all of that, you should know that rupture of an abdominoplasty repair is not a subtle event. You would most likely feel an intense burning pain that continued for several hours after the sneeze, and was combined with a very noticeable change in the appearance of your abdomen (it would not be subtle- you would look a lot more round).

The best way to proceed is to pay a visit to your surgeon, who will best be able to give you the peace of mind you are looking for right now.

No, this would be very unusual

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It would be very unusual for you to tear an abdominal stitch after sneezing. In general, these are very strong stitches which require a significant load on the abdomen, such as during very heavy lifting in the first few weeks after surgery, in order to break. If you did break a stitch, you would have a lot of pain which would not resolve quickly. Mild abdominal discomfort with sneezing immediately after a tummy tuck is not unusual. I would advise you to keep seeing your plastic surgeon for evaluation to ensure that you are healing normally. Good luck and best wishes.

Can Sneezing Without Tummy Tuck Binder Ruin Results

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Sneezing although a strong reflex does not usually cause a rip in an abdominoplasty fascial suture line.  The sutures used are made for strong tensile strength. The binder is for help with swelling and to help prevent a seroma.

Paul Vitenas, Jr., MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 117 reviews

Unlikely but possible

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A suture can be torn with stress from sneezing , coughing, exertion ion general. Patients usually can tell when this happens. Th4ey report a taering sensation and extreme pain that is not short lived. Subtle taers can occur but might not be evident at all or can manifest several weeks or months after the procedure was perfromed.

Michael S. Beckenstein, MD
Birmingham Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 21 reviews

Your surgeon knows best

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While you can potentially break a stitch or have it pop out of the tissues by contracting the muscles or exerting forceful pressure across the suture line, whether or not it will affect the healing and the result depends on the repair that was done. Some surgeons use individual interrupted sutures to repair the muscle. I, for example, use multiple individual sutures in multiple layers.The reason is that if one breaks, there is a host of others stitches that will keep the repair together. Some surgeons use a running suture (i.e. one long suture going back and forth the length of the repair). This is faster but if one loop breaks, the whole suture repair can unravel.

Robin T.W. Yuan, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon

If you're worried, consult your surgeon.

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Abdominoplasty not only removes excess skin, but also tightens the underlying abdominal wall muscles. These muscles can be weakened, stretched and torn during pregnancy. This can result in the characteristic protuberant abdomen that is commonly seen following pregnancy.
Abdominoplasty tightens these muscles in a side to side manner which results in a flatter abdomen. Most surgeons use a continuous suture for this closure, but in some cases individual sutures may be used instead. These sutures maintain the structural integrity of the abdominal wall until the wound has regained adequate strength. This usually occurs in about 6 to 8 weeks. At this point these structural sutures have served their purpose.
When trauma of any type occurs during the initial phases of wound healing, disruption of these sutures can result in a recurrence of the original problem. Under these circumstances, a flat abdominal wall may suddenly bulge in an outward direction. Although it’s unlikely that sneezing without an abdominal binder could cause this type of problem, it’s still definitely a possibility.
If you’re concerned about disruption of your internal sutures, a consultation with your plastic surgeon is appropriate. Your surgeon should be able to evaluate your abdominal wall and determine whether or not a disruption of your closure has occurred.

Can Sneezing Without Tummy Tuck Binder Ruin Results?

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Early out of tummy tuck surgery, the concern with your description would be, the potential for disruption of sutures that are holding the abdominal wall muscles together in the midline. If enough disruption occurs, the result could be separation of the abdominal wall muscles and localized or complete, abdominal wall laxity ( similar to preoperative situation).
In general, it would take a significant amount of pressure to “tear" the muscle repair after tummy tuck surgery. This event would likely be associated with significant discomfort. A change in your physical examination, such as increased swelling, bleeding, a new onset "bulge" would also be likely.
Generally speaking, abdominal wall muscle plication performed during tummy tuck surgery is quite secure; disruption is very unusual. You will be best off following up with your plastic surgeon who will be your best resource when it comes to accurate assessment, advice, and/or meaningful reassurance.
Best wishes.

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.