Deep vein thrombosis, or DVT for short, refers to the development of a blood clot in a vein located deep in the body. This condition is the result of blood not being able to circulate normally or clot appropriately due to limited movement, immobilization, certain medications, surgery, injury and/or a variety of other factors.
Some of the most common areas for DVT to develop include the legs and pelvis region, though the condition is not limited to these locations alone. A great danger of these is that in a small percentage, the clots can dislodge and migrate to the lungs resulting in a pulmonary embolus that can cause acute shortness of breast, chest pain and even death.
Although it is relatively uncommon following abdominoplasty, the risk of DVT is very real and should be taken seriously by all patients undergoing this body contouring procedure. To help prevent the formation of deep vein thrombosis after tummy tuck surgery, the following measures are often recommended:
- Refrain from smoking and/or using tobacco products for at least four weeks both before and after treatment.
- Keep the legs in a slightly elevated position while resting during recovery.
- Get up several times a day to take short walks throughout the recovery process.
- Wear compression garments around the legs to facilitate proper blood flow.
- Start taking blood thinners near the time of surgery. (This suggestion is for high-risk patients and should only be abided by if recommended by a surgeon who has thoroughly reviewed your medical history and assessed all potential risks.)
It is important to note that while these recommendations can apply to most individuals, the exact course of action for DVT prevention will vary from patient to patient. If you are considering abdominoplasty, it is vital that you discuss your medical/family history in complete detail with your plastic surgeon at the time of the consultation. By doing so, your surgeon can more accurately identify risk factors and formulate a personalized plan to help reduce the potential for DVT based on your unique needs.
Steven H. Turkeltaub, M.D. P.C.
Scottsdale and Phoenix, Arizona