I often get asked about having two or more procedures completed at the same time. There are generally two types of patients who this is a concern for:
- The patient who is required to have a medically necessary procedure, but would also like to have something cosmetic “while they are asleep,” and
- The patient who has a laundry list of concerns from a cosmetic standpoint, but only wants one recovery period.
It is fairly common for patients to add a cosmetic procedure to a medically necessary surgery, and generally this can be done quite safely in a hospital setting. A patient who has to have a hysterectomy who wants to have her tummy tuck completed at the same time is a good example of this type of patient. Another example is a patient who needs a hernia repair, but also wants a nicer looking tummy or perhaps some liposuction. We often work with other surgeons – usually for general surgery, gynecological, ENT, or urologic surgery. If you are considering adding a cosmetic procedure to another surgery, your doctor will need to be on board, so make sure you run it by the primary surgeon.
Pros: Combining surgeries means you will only have one recovery period – adding procedures doesn’t lengthen your recovery. So if it takes four weeks to recover from a breast augmentation and four weeks to recover from an umbilical hernia repair, you could have them both done in one visit, saving yourself from requiring additional time off work and out of the gym. Additionally, depending on what type of medically necessary procedure you are having, the cost of your hospital stay can potentially be covered by your insurance. It is important to note that your insurance will most likely not cover any part of your cosmetic surgery. You should also keep in mind that having internal surgery can add a list of concerns that need to be discussed and approached cautiously and thoughtfully. One needs to consider how both surgeries will affect your recovery and how much additional help you will need during recovery. For example, I had a patient who asked to add a facelift and eyelid lift to her orthopedic hand surgery. Sounds great in theory, but we weren’t entirely comfortable with the idea of our patient having use of only one hand in addition to minimized vision. It’s hard to put a sleeve on a cast when you can’t see well, and it’s difficult to put on or remove garments with only one hand.
Cons: Some cases cannot be combined safely for many reasons. Cosmetic surgery isn’t routinely performed in combination with orthopedic surgery involving your lower extremities because of the increased risk for DVT (blood clots). Occasionally, findings from the medically necessary portion of your surgery can cause us to cancel the cosmetic portion of your procedure. For example, if there is significant blood loss or some unexpected finding during the surgery, it will need to be addressed prior to proceeding with your elective case. Sometimes, it just might not be in your best interests to have elective surgery if you have a medical condition with a less than optimal prognosis. I have turned down some people who wanted plastic surgery, but were very sick. To their benefit, they felt if they weren’t going to feel good, they wanted to at least look good. However, I feel that one’s health should come first. In our office, we spend a lot of time making sure our patients are not only good candidates from a surgical perspective, but from a medical one, as well.
For those who desire to have several cosmetic procedures at once, it certainly depends on your health and what you ask for. Facelifts are generally not combined with abdominoplasty, due to increased bleeding risks. We rarely do procedures together that would send a patient home with more than four drains… that is just logistics. We do always try to plan things prudently and SAFELY to make sure you are able to heal and get back to your life in a reasonable amount of time. Combining multiple procedures generally requires an overnight stay at the hospital (for your safety), and most people like having access to IV meds and a caring registered nurse to help with whatever needs they may have.
In our office, Sabrina, our patient care coordinator, is awesome at coordinating multiple surgeons with crazy schedules. Planning for this is important – getting on one physician’s schedule can be daunting enough – being able to get two or more surgeons’ schedules to line up for the same day may take a little while. Patience is key here.
If this is something you are thinking about, ask your surgeon if having multiple procedures is safe for you. Ask if it’s necessary to stay at the hospital for a night or two as you heal. Then do what’s best for you and your situation.
To learn more about combining multiple surgeries, or to schedule a consultation, please contact Dr. Thomas Lintner at Advanced Aesthetic Surgery today.