Monday, December 31, 2012

Are Blood Clots a Common Problem in Plastic Surgery Patients?

Recent media accounts regarding Hillary Clinton's blood clot have prompted several of our patients to ask what the real risk is of blood clots after Facial Plastic Surgery procedures. 

The good news is that the risk is low for healthy people without any underlying clotting conditions. There exists a perfect storm of factors referred to as Virchow's Triad. The triad includes pooling of blood in the legs, existence of a hypercoagulable state (more clotting) and injury to the inner blood vessel wall. 

Patients undergoing Facial Plastic Surgery procedures can minimize the risk by revealing any underlying blood clotting problems in themselves or family members. Further, depending upon the level of risk of blood clots (referred to as deep venous thrombosis), many maneuvers can be performed to prevent clot formation. These options include minimizing operative time, placing compressive stockings on the lower legs and using sequential compression devices to prevent pooling of blood in the legs. In more extreme cases, patients can be treated with short-term blood thinning medications to further reduce the risk. 

We are vigilant in identifying warning signs such as swelling, discomfort or pain the calf muscles following surgery. However, in our typically healthy population of patients, the risk of deep venous thrombosis is low.

Stephen Weber, MD, FACS
Lone Tree Facial Plastic Surgeon

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