Can a Tummy Tuck Be Undone? Have Been Having Shortness Of Breath For 6 Months Since Surgery.

I had my tummy tuck June 18th 2011. The second day of the surgery i started to fill shortness of breath and tightness of the throat. Dr. Told me to go in er right away cause it coulve been an pulmonary embolism. But they did all the test in the world and everything came back fine. they told me that it would go away and that maybe it was the effects of the anesthesia. 6 months from my surgery and i still have the shortness of breath. Can i have this tummy tuck undone? And is it safe?

Doctor Answers 5

Shortness of Breath 6 months after Tummy Tuck?

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Thank you for the question.

I'm sorry to hear about the difficulties  you have experienced since your surgery.

Yes,  abdominal wall plication  can be “undone”. The effect of doing this would be to decrease intra-abdominal pressure and possibly allow for improved/increased diaphragm movement. This may or may not improve your respiratory symptoms.

However, I would suggest that you be evaluated by the best pulmonologists you can find prior to contemplating further surgery.  These doctors should be able to make an accurate diagnosis and determine the cause of  your shortness of breath.

I hope this helps.

Persistent Shortness of Breath Following Tummy Tuck

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Your persistent shortness of breath is rare following tummy tuck surgery, and I have not had a patient with this problem. Deep inspiration may be limited following the operation as a result of the post-op pain. If the volume of the intra-abdominal contents was large or herniated, a tight plication may increase intra-abdominal pressure enough that it results in decreased diaphragmatic excursion; this may then lead to breathing difficulties.

Deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism is a known complication of tummy tuck surgery and can produce significant shortness of breath; and can even be fatal. Heart or heart valve problems can cause shortness of breath as well. There are certainly many other medical conditions that could produce shortness of breath.

The first thing you should do is be evaluated by a good internist and/or pulmonologist. A detailed medical history, and perhaps a detailed evaluation of your breathing, will need to be performed.

As a last resort, your abdominal plication could be released. The surgical procedure would be similar to your tummy tuck; a similar approach would be used, the plication suture(s) removed, and any scarring released to allow loosening of the muscular abdominal wall.

Best wishes. Kenneth Dembny

Kenneth Dembny, II, MD
Milwaukee Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 36 reviews

You need a work up

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It is very rare (I have never seen one) to tighten the abdominal wall so much that you get reflux symptoms.  You should be worked up by a pulmonary and Gastro doctor to see if you have acid reflux and be treated for it.  To undo the plication of the wall is I "guess" possible but I wonder if it will cause more damage then good?

Andre Aboolian, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 63 reviews

SOB persisting almost 6 months post tummy tuck

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Your protracted history of SOB following a tummy tuck that was not the result of a pulmonary embolus is extremely rare. I have never personally seen this. It is possible that you are experiencing this due to a very tight plication of the rectus muscles. Less likely is that an excessive amount of skin was removed though if this was the case, it should have improved with time.

You should definitely be evaluated by an internist and pulmonologist (lung doctor) and any additional specialist that they recommend. In addition, I would seek a 2nd opinion from one or more additional board certified plastic surgeons.


Steven Turkeltaub, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

Short of breath after tummy tuck

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Your doctor did the right thing, confiming that you had no venous thrombosis after your tummy tuck. The fact that your shortness of breath is still present is confusing. Your tummy tuck cannot be undone and it is time for a good physical by your primary doctor to help sort things out as your shortness of breath can have very many causes.

Best of luck,

Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 44 reviews

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.