What Is A Blood Clot? Blood clots are semi-solid clumps or formations of thickened blood that form when it hardens from a liquid to a solid. A clot may partially or fully block the flow of blood. Clotting is your body’s way of restricting blood loss after an injury and can occur at any time, with or without surgery and may reduce or cut off circulation.

Blood Clots After Tummy Tucks

Tummy tuck patients run the risks of developing a blood clot following surgery, but the risk is low. Preventative measures can be taken by both the patient and the doctor to further minimize the risk. These measures are described below as well as other facts and information.

How Can A Blood Clot Be Dangerous?

Clots from surgery can become dangerous when they form inside a blood vessel and interfere with circulation. Furthermore the possibility exists that the clot can break off and travel to other parts of your body, including the lungs, brain, and heart.


The Basic Cause Of Clots After Surgery is Immobility

True. Being immobile in bed allows blood to pool, to coagulate and create a clot which can travel to your lungs, heart or brain causing a pulmonary embolism, heart attack or stroke.

The formation of blood clots following surgery is rare, but it does happen. They have been associated with lengthy surgical procedures involving general anesthesia. Clots generally form in the veins of the legs after surgery while the patient is immobilized in bed and can break apart and travel to other parts of the body where they pose the risk of causing strokes or death.


Patients who are at increased risk of developing a blood clot after surgery

  1. Do not use birth control pills while you are preparing for and recovering from surgery. Use of birth control pills may increase the risk of clot formation. stop taking the contraceptive pill six weeks before surgery.
  2. Talk to your surgeon if you are undergoing hormone replacement therapy or cancer treatments as they may increase the risk of clot formations.
  3. People over 40.
  4. People with heart problems.
  5. Women who have recently been pregnant are at higher risk.
  6. Patients with a prior history of blood clots.
  7. Smokers.
  8. If you have diabetes.
  9. If you have poor circulation.
  10. If you have heart, lung or liver disease.
  11. If you take certain medications.
  12. If you have been hospitalized in the last 3 months.
  13. If you had major surgery in the last 3 months.
  14. If you had major trauma in the last 3 months.
  15. If you lived in a nursing home in the last 3 months.
  16. If you had leg paralysis in the last 3 months.
  17. If you are older than age 65.
  18. If you have active cancer/chemotherapy.
  19. If you had a bone fracture or cast.
  20. If you are pregnant or recently gave birth.
  21. If you had bed rest over 3 days.
  22. If you are obese.


How Soon After Surgery Do Clots Form?

There a no set rules, but generally..

  • First 3 days – greatest risk of forming clots. Most show up in the first few days after surgery.
  • After 2-3 weeks it is unlikely that they will develop as a result of the surgery.


How To Prevent Blood Clots

The best way to prevent or reduce the risk of forming clots is to move around and become active again as soon as possible after tummy tuck surgery. Other methods include:

  1. During your initial consultation be sure to tell your surgeon your complete medical history including all medications you are taking. This will help him determine if you are a high risk candidate.
  2. Use of compression stockings for 3-4 days following surgery.
  3. Pre and post-operative leg massages.
  4. Walk about as soon as possible. walking within a day or two of surgery to prevent blood from clotting in your thighs and calves.
  5. During the first week after surgery move your legs as much as possible.
  6. Hydrating the patient well.
  7. Avoiding a prolonged sitting or standing position.
  8. While in bed as soon as you can following surgery move your legs. A gentle pumping action lessens the chance for blood clots forming.
  9. While still in bed flex your feet.
  10. Ask your surgeon if you need an injection of an anti-clotting medicine called heparin.


What are the Signs That I Am Developing A Blood Clot?

  1. Signs of a clot in the leg – Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
    -Swelling, usually in one leg
    -Leg pain or tenderness
    -Reddish or bluish skin discoloration
    -Leg warm to touch
  2. Signs of a blood clot that traveled to the lungs – Pulmonary Embolism (PE)
    -Sudden shortness of breath, difficulty breathing or changes in breathing.
    -Chest pain-sharp, stabbing; may get worse with deep breath
    -Rapid heart rate, irregular heartbeat
    -Unexplained cough, sometimes with bloody mucus


Do People Die From Blood Clots After Surgery

People have died from clots following tummy tuck operations, but they are exceedingly rare occurrences. I could only find one published account of someone dying from a blood clot following a tummy tuck operation in England.

Published Date: 19 February 2007
A 39-YEAR-old Hucknall woman died from a blood clot after she underwent plastic surgery, an inquest has heard. Julie Gore, of Watnall Road, was admitted to the Park Hospital near Arnold for a tummy-tuck on November 14 last year. She was discharged two days later but, three days after that, she complained of illness and was rushed to Nottingham’s Queen’s MediCentre, where she died. ecording a verdict of accidental death, Nottinghamshire Coroner Dr Nigel Chapman revealed the cause of death was a blockage in her pulmonary artery, known as a pulmonary embolism, caused by deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) – a type of blood clot. reference http://www.hucknalldispatch.co.uk/news/Woman-died-after-tummytuck-op.2058323.jp


What Are My Chances Of Developing A Blood Clot After Surgery?

The chances are very rare, especially if you and your doctor take all of the necessary precautions. I have searched the internet for statistics and could not find any. Doctors and medical organizations don’t like to publish and negative information that may portray their trade in a bad light, so the information is hard to find. The closest information that I could find was from a site called StopTheClot.com which states “350,000—600,000 people in the United States develop blood clots every year. About 100,000 people in the U.S. die each year from blood clots, which means that about 1 of 3 may die.”


What is a Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) occurs when a clot forms in one of the deep veins of your body, usually in your legs. This typically causes swelling and pain at the site. Clots can break off from a DVT in the legs and travel to the lung, causing a pulmonary embolism (PE), which can be fatal. ref: StopTheClot.com


Feedback Messages

The following Reader Comments are relevant to the subject of this page.
To read all Tummy Tuck Feedback click here.


More Messages


January 30, 2012
My sister in law is scheduled for a robotic lap hysterectomy in a few weeks and she fell this last weekend and broke her tibia in two places and had To have a rod placed in her leg. Wonder if the hysterectomy will still be able to be done? They have on blood thinners and they are suspicious that she has Ovarian cancer due to elevated ca125 and margin tumor elevated.

Response – Jana,

Sorry, but this is not the right website to ask a medical question like that. You will have to ask her doctor. Sorry I couldn’t help.



Blood Clots From Birth CONTROL

November 1, 2011
I had clots from birth cintro, in 2005, I had a min tummy tuck a year ago, now I’m scheduled for a full tummy tuck, I want abdomen tightened in the upper area. I had no problems at all with the last surgery, does this mean I should be ok with this one, and shouldn’t have to worry about clots. I took lovanox 2 weeks after surgery. Is a full tummy tuck comparable to a mini. I am 38 years old. Tummy Tuck Forum Response – Sorry, but these questions can only be answered by your surgeon. Good luck, Tanner


Reference Material

The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism, US Dept of Health and Human Services, 2008

“A recent study did find that a diet of more fruits, vegetables and fish, and less red and processed meat is associated with a lower incidence of Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism”

“about half of those who develop Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism have two things in common. First they have one or more identifiable risk factors for the disease. Second, they experience some sort of triggering event, such as hospitalization, trauma, surgery or a prolonged period of immobilization”

“there is much that can be done, however to prevent high risk individuals from developing these conditions”

“Several drugs have been found to be effective in reducing the likelihood of a blood clot in high risk individuals. These drugs are known as anticoagulants or blood thinners”

“Additionally, several mechanical devices exist to help prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism. These devices are often used for individuals who are at high risk but are not able to tolerate anticoagulants.”

“Another preventive therapy option is the use of a permanent or retrievable implantable filter in the vena cava.”