It might surprise you to learn that hysterectomies are the second most common surgery among women in the United States. And with obesity ever on the rise, many of the 500,000 women who get them annually wouldn’t mind getting some elective surgery done also, especially to reduce a hanging belly. Well who says you can’t have both?
A study published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, finds that a panniculectomy (from pannus or “hanging abdomen”) better known as a tummy tuck, can be performed at the same surgery as a hysterectomy without increasing the risk of complications.
“Performing a concurrent hysterectomy with panniculectomy does not increase the 30-day risk of reoperation or wound, medical or surgical-site complication.”
Using a national surgical database from 2005 – 2012 that included more than 25,000 women who underwent a hysterectomy, researchers identified just 174 patients who had a combined hysterectomy and tummy tuck and compared their 30-day complication rates to those who only had a hysterectomy.
The mean operating time was about 2 hours for a hysterectomy alone and about 4 hours for the combination surgery. Women having both a hysterectomy and panniculectomy were more often obese (BMI >30) with a history of a cardiovascular or respiratory condition.
Women undergoing the double procedure had a higher rate of blood clot-related complications called venous thromboembolism (VTE) at a rate of three percent versus one percent.
However, when researchers compared matched groups of patients with similar characteristics, they did not find a significant difference in VTE risk, wound complications, surgical site infections, medical complications, or total complication rate.
The only significant difference was the length of hospital stay, where women having both procedures were twice as likely to spend at least three days in the hospital.
If you’ve got a “stomach apron” and are slated to undergo a hysterectomy, here are a few more reasons why scheduling a tummy tuck at the same time might be right for you:
Between the surgeon, anesthesia, operating room fee, medications, and hospital stay, any kind of surgery is costly. But if you have a plastic surgery procedure like a tummy tuck done in conjunction with a hysterectomy, you can consolidate some of the costs. If you’re lucky, you may only have to pay for the surgeon and any additional operating room and recovery room time.
Cut Recovery Time
A hysterectomy is a major surgery that requires you to take time off from work and your regular schedule – 6 to 8 weeks on average for an abdominal hysterectomy, and up to two weeks for certain laparoscopic procedures. A tummy tuck is also a major surgery that requires anywhere from two to 12 weeks for recovery. Why not recover from both at the same time? This way, you won’t have to take double the time off from work or your daily routine.
Keep it Under Wraps
Sure, you took some time to recover after medically necessary surgery, but why do you suddenly look so…good? Unlike rhinoplasty or a breast augmentation, a tummy tuck is easy to conceal, especially if you’ve had major abdominal surgery. People will notice a difference, but it can be your little secret!
Childbirth, aging, genetics, and simply living life can affect the body and its appearance in a lot of ways, but there are things you can do to modify your appearance and feel more confident about the way you look. So if you can kill two birds with one surgery without increasing the risk of complications, why not?
David H. Rahm, M.D. is the founder and medical director of The Wellness Center, a medical clinic located in Long Beach, CA. Dr. Rahm is also president and medical director of VitaMedica. Dr. Rahm is one of a select group of conventional medical doctors who have education and expertise in functional medicine and nutritional science. Over the past 20 years, Dr. Rahm has published articles in the plastic surgery literature and educated physicians about the importance of good peri-operative nutrition.