Although blood clot formation is a rare risk of a cosmetic surgical procedure, it is one of the most serious. If a blood clot forms in a major artery, thereby cutting off proper blood flow to part of the body, it may result in paralysis. If the clot breaks off and travels to the brain or the lungs, the patient may have a stroke or develop a pulmonary embolism, both of which may result in death. Fortunately, there are some ways to prevent blood clots from occurring in the first place.
What to Do
Get moving as soon as possible: The most important thing that patients can do to prevent the formation of blood clots following surgery is to get moving as soon as possible. Stimulating blood circulation will reduce the chance of a clot from forming. In many cases, patients are encouraged to begin walking around, even a little, the day following surgery. Some sort of walking routine should be done every day, for incrementally longer periods of time.
Use compression garments and bandages: The cosmetic surgeon will give the patient a compression garment to wear. This is designed to wrap tightly around the body at the surgical incision site so as to reduce the chances of blood pooling and then possibly clotting. Compression garments should be worn up to two weeks after the procedure, depending upon the instructions from the surgeon.
Use of Arnica montana: Taking the herb Arnica montana in conjunction with the use of cold compresses and compression garments will help to reduce the amount of swelling, bruising, and blood pooling following surgery. This will help prevent clot formation.
Anticoagulant medications: Patients who are at high risk for forming clots should consult with their surgeon regarding possibly using anticoagulant medications. These medications thin the blood, reducing its ability to coagulate, and thus form clots. Studies have shown that some anticoagulants can reduce the risk of blood clot formation by as much as 60 percent. However, they should be used with caution. For example, patients who are at high risk for excessive bleeding should not use blood thinners.
What Not to Do
Smoking: It is recommended that patients quit smoking starting at least a month prior to surgery, continuing to one month after surgery. However, it is best for patients to quit smoking for good. Cigarette smoke can constrict the blood vessels, reducing oxygen and blood flow. This can increase the risk of the formation of blood clots.
Oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy: Both of these medications will increase the risk for blood clot formation. It is recommended to stop these medications starting at least a month before surgery until two to three months after surgery.
Although blood clot formation after cosmetic surgery may have extremely severe consequences, it is very rare. Effective collaboration between the patient and the surgeon on how best to prevent clot formation will greatly reduce this risk and lead to a far better outcome and recovery.
*The content in this blog is developed to spread the awareness towards plastic surgery. Our blog is not intended to serve as a replacement for an actual in-office consultation with Dr. Marin. As such, the information within this blog reflects the unique cases of our individual patients.