I recently had a patient ask me if a breast reduction and a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) could be done at the same time. I am often asked if two operations can be combined, and the answer isn’t always the same, so in today’s blog post I wanted to give you a peek into my thought process. There are several factors to consider:
- Will recovery be more difficult if the two operations are combined? I won’t do a carpal tunnel release on both hands in a single surgery, for example, because during the recovery period the patient is stuck with a splint on each wrist. This makes it fairly difficult to do things like shower, feed yourself, or even use the bathroom. Along the same lines, I usually recommend splitting a brachioplasty (arm lift) and thigh lift into separate operations so that you can use your arms to compensate for the soreness in your legs, e.g. when getting up out of a chair, and vice versa.
- How long with the total operation be? Several studies have shown that longer operations increase the risk of forming blood clots in the legs (deep vein thrombosis). There may be an increased risk of infection in longer operations as well, although the data here is not as clear cut. In addition, surgeon fatigue definitely plays a role. Surgeons are human, and we do get tired during long cases. In my own practice, I limit operations to around 8 hours or less when combining elective procedures.
- Are the two operations considered cosmetic or covered by insurance? The hospital that I operate at will allow me to combine cosmetic and medically necessary operations. They just separate the billing, so the portion for the non-cosmetic operation goes to the insurance company. Some surgery centers will not allow surgeons to combine a cosmetic operation with one covered by insurance, however, so this may be a factor in your surgeon’s decision making process.
After reading through the information above, you’ve probably concluded that it is possible to perform a breast reduction and an abdominoplasty at the same time. And in fact, this is a fairly popular combination operation. The advantage is that you can recover from both operations at the same time, rather than having two separate recoveries.
Do you have any questions about combining operations? I would love to hear them in the comments section.