Reducing the Occurrence of Blood Clots after Plastic Surgery

November 07, 2013

Clotting, or coagulation, is a part of hemostasis, and occurs anytime there is trauma to blood vessels. It is an immune response wherein platelets and fibrin in the blood stream gather and clump together at the site of trauma. This is how the body prevents excessive bleeding while it repairs the broken blood vessels. Some clotting is good. Scabbing is an example of this. However, a large clot can break off and travel through the blood stream and inhibit the function of an organ, like the heart or a lung. All invasive surgery is associated with a risk of excessive clotting. Cosmetic surgery is no different, though the occurrence of blood clots is rare.

The risk of blood clots continues during the recovery period due to the significant trauma to blood vessels during the procedure, and the sedentary lifestyle that patients are encouraged to maintain for at least a week or two after surgery.

Tips to Prevent the Occurrence of Blood Clots

While preparing for surgery, maintenance of a healthy lifestyle is necessary. Moderate to vigorous exercise with a balanced diet and a full night’s sleep come highly recommended. There are also steps patients can take after surgery to prevent the formation of blood clots, including:

Compression Garments

Compression garments are often worn after plastic surgery. The compression reduces the chance of blood pooling and clotting after surgery. In most cases, compression garments are worn at the surgical site to reduce swelling and the development of scar tissue. To reduce the chance of deep vein thrombosis, a compression device can also be worn on the legs. Patients that are at a higher risk of blood clots may be encouraged to wear a compression device on the legs.

Engage in Light Movement

The more blood circulates, the less likely it is to become stagnant and clot. Patients recovering from surgery often spend a lot of time in bed. Rest is very important, but so is steadily building back up to their normal routine and getting the blood moving. At first, the bare minimums of walking to the bathroom and the dinner table will suffice. Light stretching in bed is also manageable for most people right out of surgery. As always, patients should be aware of how their body is feeling, and do what they can. Most surgeons recommend that patients take two or three five-minute light walks the day after surgery. The next day, they may want to add a few minutes to these walks and add an additional walk to the schedule. They can gradually build up this schedule in the days following surgery to prevent the formation of blood clots.


Certain foods have been known to cause excess clotting. Hydrogenated oils and trans fats should be avoided in general, but particularly during recovery from a surgical procedure. Diets high in sugar have also been known to be detrimental to cardiovascular health.


Typically, any medication that can thin the blood should be avoided after surgery to reduce bleeding, bruising, and other side effects and complications. However, if the patient is at risk of forming blood clots, anticoagulant medication may be prescribed.

The low complications and high success rates at Crawford Plastic Surgery lead many patients to choose our practice for their plastic surgery needs. Contact Crawford Plastic Surgery today to schedule a consultation. 


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