Deep vein thrombosis, better known as DVT, is the formation of a blood clot in a vein deep in the body. The legs are a common place where a blood clot can form. However, it is important to understand that they can also be found in other places. Deep vein thrombosis can come loose from their location in a lower limb and travel to the lungs, heart or brain. This can be life-threatening and even fatal.
Fortunately, the risk of developing a blood clot after abdominoplasty surgery is relatively low. The formation of DVT is still something that has to be taken very seriously. There are several things you can do both before and after surgery to reduce the chances of a blood clot forming. Below is a list of precautions that you should take both before and after surgery to reduce the likelihood of a blood clot forming.
Prevent Blood Clots (DVT) After a Tummy Tuck
Things to do Before Surgery
- Stop smoking and also avoid all other forms of tobacco. This not only reduces the likelihood of a blood clot forming, but also contributes to faster healing after surgery.
- Stop taking hormones like birth control pills or hormone replacement products about three to four weeks before the operation. Taking these drugs can increase your risk of forming a blood clot after surgery. It is important to discuss stopping these medications with your PCP and plastic surgeon before stopping them. Also be sure to use other pregnancy protection products when you stop taking birth control pills.
- You may need to have a pre-operative examination with your PCP before the date of the operation can be determined. This examination will determine whether you are healthy enough to have an abdominoplasty. Your blood count, vital signs, ECG, and heart and lung sounds will be checked. Be sure to mention any problems with blood clotting, such as factor V, to your family doctor and your surgeon. It is also important to mention any family history of clotting problems. You may need to have further tests to see if you have any of these problems.
- Maintain a healthy weight or lose weight if you are obese. Overweight and inactive people have a higher risk of developing blood clots and other surgical complications.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle that includes frequent exercise. You should be able to walk up 5 flights of stairs without stopping.
Things to do After Surgery
- Some patients are prescribed blood-thinning medication which they have to take after the operation. Sometimes it is as simple as taking an aspirin the day after surgery. At other times it might be an injection like Lovenox. This depends on your medical history and the type of surgery you have had. Please be sure to discuss this with your PCP and plastic surgeon to see if blood thinners are necessary for you after the operation.
- Stand up and move around as often as your body allows. Short walks are a good way of avoiding blood clots as soon as your surgeon tells you to. Exercises to move your extremities can also be recommended after surgery. Make sure to do them as recommended to avoid blood clots.
- Always wear compression stockings when sitting or lying down. These stockings help to keep your circulation moving and keep the blood flowing in your lower limbs. Discuss with your surgeon how long these stockings should be worn after the operation.
- Stay hydrated. This will help to keep your blood circulation moving.
Signs and Symptoms of a Blood Clot
Here are some signs and symptoms that you should look out for after the operation:
- Pain, swelling or tenderness in one of your legs. This generally occurs in the calf area.
- A feeling of heaviness or deep pain in one leg.
- A redness or warm feeling in the affected leg.
If you develop any of these symptoms after the operation, contact your surgeon immediately to set up an action plan.
If you develop shortness of breath or chest pain, you should go to your local emergency room immediately.
Deep vein thrombosis is a serious medical problem that can occur after an operation. Deep vein thrombosis can get to your heart, lungs or brain via the bloodstream. This is called an embolism and is a life-threatening event. Your changes are relatively small if a blood clot forms, and even smaller if it is an embolism. It is still very important that you take precautions by being in good health before elective surgery and following the recommendations for prevention.
A Little About Dr. Donald Roland
Dr. Donald Roland is an experienced plastic surgeon with a practice in New York City. Dr. Roland is a board certified professional who specializes in body treatments. Are you considering a tummy tuck in NYC? Would you like to learn more about it? Please visit his website for more information.