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Mommy Makeover Death Rate: Critical Factors to Consider

Published by Dr. Brandon Richland, MD

Mommy makeover surgeries are a popular way for mothers to improve their body shape and contours after childbirth. When thinking about having a mommy makeover, many women are concerned about the complications and even death rates associated with the surgery. 

Mommy makeover procedures have lower complication rates compared to other common cosmetic plastic surgeries. In the United States, the good news is that the mortality rate of mommy makeovers is extremely low. 

However, in other countries popular for medical tourism, the death rate is much higher. 

Key Takeaways of Mommy Makeover Death Rate

  • According to the National Library of Medicine (NLM), mommy makeover surgeries have an extremely low mortality rate in the United States.
  • An ABC News international story highlighted the extreme risk of complications or even death, by having plastic surgery procedures done in countries like Mexico, Thailand, Brazil, or India. Not a good idea, due to lower healthcare education requirements and possible poor medical standards in some of these foreign countries.
  • Proper preoperative evaluation and use of precautionary measures by experienced surgeons help reduce the risk of pulmonary embolism, hemorrhage, skin necrosis, and infection related to mommy makeovers.
  • When it comes to a safe procedure, selecting the right surgeon is key. Look for board certified plastic surgeons with memberships in professional organizations such as the American Society of Plastic Surgeons or the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.
  • After surgery, adequate rest and careful wound care are important to ensure successful results from a mommy makeover procedure without any major complications occurring post operatively.

Understanding the Risks of a Mommy Makeover Surgery

As with any surgery, a mommy makeover procedure has its own set of associated risks.

Pulmonary Embolism

Pulmonary embolism is a life threatening condition that can arise from mommy makeover surgeries, primarily combinations of body contouring procedures of breast augmentation and tummy tuck.

Pulmonary embolism occurs when a blood clot forms in the leg veins and travels to the lungs, blocking blood flow and causing severe complications. This condition can be caused by long periods of immobility during surgery due to decreased circulation, or sometimes due to medications given during anesthetic management.

Proper pre operative assessment, minimizing the duration of surgery, and wearing compression garments for several weeks post-op may help reduce this risk. Seeking out experienced surgeons with good surgical records is key when considering a mommy makeover procedure, mommy patients should consult with multiple surgeons before selecting one who best meets their needs.


Hemorrhage is a serious potential complication of any surgery. It can occur when blood vessels are damaged during the procedure, causing internal or external bleeding, leading to potentially life threatening consequences.

Factors that increase patients’ risk of suffering a hemorrhagic event include poor circulation in the surgical area, pre existing clotting disorders, high blood pressure, or medications that affect coagulation like aspirin and Plavix among others.

Surgeons take necessary steps to minimize these risks before starting a mommy makeover operation by evaluating their patient’s medical history, as well as performing detailed laboratory tests.

Skin Necrosis

Skin necrosis is a potential complication and occurs when tissue cells die due to a lack of oxygen or blood supply. Skin necrosis often presents itself in the form of blackish patches on the affected area due to damaged fat cells.

This can occur as a result of an underlying vascular issue, such as diabetes, smoking, or obesity which compromises blood circulation in the body during healing. Proper preoperative evaluation by a qualified surgeon helps identify any underlying conditions that could potentially increase post-op complications like skin necrosis.


One of the most serious risks associated with mommy makeovers is infection. Infection can develop due to poor wound healing or bacterial contamination from contact with the surgery site. The risk of infection increases when a patient has an impaired immune system, is taking steroids, or smokes cigarettes.

To minimize the risk of infection following a mommy makeover, surgeons use precautions such as antibiotics and covering incisions with sterile bandages, which also help compress swelling and reduce bleeding.

Preventative measures include cleansing wounds to remove any debris and bacteria, avoiding alcohol consumption before surgery for at least 48 hours beforehand, and eating healthy foods before and after surgery to promote rapid mommy makeover recovery.

Anesthesia Complications

During a mommy makeover, anesthesia is used to numb the area and provide adequate comfort for the patient. While IV sedation is generally an effective and safe anesthesia option during this surgical procedure, complications can still arise.

These complications may include nausea or vomiting post surgery as well as allergic reactions to medications used in anesthesia and hypotension. The duration of time under anesthesia has a direct effect on both short term risks such as delirium, and long term risks such as memory issues after surgery.

The Low Death Rate of Mommy Makeover Surgeries

Despite common misconceptions, In the United States, mommy makeover surgeries are quite safe, and the mortality rate is extremely low.

Published Mortality Rates

Studies have found that the risk of death from a tummy tuck surgery is just one in 13,000, and 1.3 deaths per 50,000 for liposuction. This, according to the National Library of Medicine (NLM).

Mommy makeovers performed by experienced board certified surgeons tend to be much safer than other cosmetic or reconstructive plastic surgeons offer. While risks such as bleeding, infection, and poor healing of incisions can occur with any type of surgery, it’s important to carefully research potential doctors before selecting the final surgeon to minimize these risks.

Comparisons to Other Procedures

Mommy makeover surgeries have become increasingly popular over the years, and due to advancements in techniques, the mortality rates associated with these procedures are very low. When compared to other cosmetic surgeries such as liposuction and abdominoplasty, mommy makeovers typically have much lower mortality rates than many of these other procedures.

Liposuction has a reported mortality rate of 1 to 50,000 while abdominoplasty is reported to be 1 of 10k to 13,000. Reports on Brazilian butt lift do not have a specific figure for its death rate. Breast lift surgery, which is often included in mommy makeovers, has an even lower mortality rate than any of the single components that complete the overall procedure.

All this considered, when compared to other procedures, potential death from this particular combination of procedures remains quite uncommon and should instill confidence among patients considering undergoing this type of operation.

Factors Affecting Safety

There is still a very slim chance for death from a mommy makeover, and these are the factors that commonly affect safety.

Image Credit: Saskekun / 123RF.com (Licensed).

Proper Pre-Operative Evaluation

Pre-op evaluation should be thoroughly done with a plastic surgeon to determine the patient’s eligibility and right course of treatment. This often includes discussion of medical history and underlying conditions, blood work, and imaging tests. By undergoing a pre-op evaluation, the plastic surgeon can take preventive measures that aim to minimize safety mommy makeover risks.

Patient’s Overall Health

A mommy makeover is a major surgery, and it requires general anesthesia as well as anesthetic medications that carry risks of their own. An individual’s overall health can have a major impact on the outcome of a surgery, which is why surgeons require patients to undergo comprehensive medical screenings before any procedures.

This evaluation looks at factors such as existing illnesses, current medications, weight history, smoking or drug use habits to determine if any conditions could put the patient at risk for complications during the procedure.

Evaluating pre-existing risk factors that could lead to difficulties during the operation itself, doctors may also take into consideration how prepared an individual is emotionally and psychologically for elective cosmetic surgeries like a mommy makeover surgery.

Importance of Choosing a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon

When it comes to any medical procedure, selecting the right surgeon is essential for the safety and success of the operation. Patients need to select an experienced, well qualified, and board certified plastic surgeon who has experience with these procedures to reduce risks associated.

Researching Credentials

Every woman considering a mommy makeover must do thorough research on potential surgeons. This includes ensuring they have the proper qualifications and certifications that demonstrate their expertise in performing this type of procedure.

Women should look for board certification, as these are indicators of a qualified plastic surgeon who has undergone additional training in aesthetic surgery.

Women should ask questions about their experience with similar procedures, as well as find out what specific steps will be taken to ensure safety before, during, and after the operation.

Examining Before and After Photos

When considering a mommy makeover, viewing of before and after photographs of previous procedures conducted by the surgeon can help interested patients see if the results they want for themselves are achievable. These photos provide valuable insights into the expected outcomes and can help potential patients make informed decisions about their course of treatment.

Before and after mommy makeover photos demonstrate the abilities of a qualified cosmetic surgeon, showcasing their technical aptitude regarding symmetry, contouring, and sculpting techniques.

Reading Patient Reviews

Taking time to read through and consider the experiences of previous patients is an important step in choosing a qualified surgeon for a mommy makeover. Patient reviews can provide invaluable insight into how satisfied other mommy makeover patients were with their procedure, as well as offer information about the surgeon’s qualifications, experience, and expertise in performing mommy makeovers.

The Role of Anesthesia in Mommy Makeovers

Several options of anesthesia are used in a mommy makeover procedure, depending on the surgeries included.

Types of Anesthesia Used

In mommy makeover surgeries, the two most commonly used anesthetics are general anesthesia and higher levels of sedation. General anesthesia induces a deep sleep where the patient is completely unconscious, making it the preferred choice for many surgeons as it provides them with more control during surgery.

Because of these risks, general anesthesia is typically recommended when performing complex surgeries that involve longer procedure times.

Managing Expectations and Potential Risks

Keeping a steady mindset with realistic expectations is needed for a satisfactory mommy makeover experience. To minimize these risks, surgeons properly evaluate the patient during the pre-op to prepare for expected and potential complications.

Image Credit: Armmypicca / 123RF.com (Licensed).

Understanding Potential Scarring

Scarring is a common outcome of mommy makeover procedures such as tummy tuck and breast surgery, but surgeons can minimize their appearance through various techniques. Scarring is most commonly present in the incision areas where the majority of the skin was cut open during surgery. These may include the abdomen, breasts, and hips.

Tummy tuck scars often extend below the bikini line and can be more noticeable and difficult to hide than breast augmentation scars, which are usually located around the nipple or along the edge of the underarm.

Realistic Outcomes

Have realistic expectations before undergoing any type of surgery, including a mommy makeover. The effects of the procedure can vary widely depending on individual anatomy and healing abilities, as well as the limitations imposed by the procedures involved.

Patients must be upfront with their surgeons about what they hope to achieve so scenarios are discussed ahead of time and both parties agree on achievable goals. The patient should expect some scarring due to incisions from breast lifts or tummy tucks.

Communication With the Surgeon

Have a clear dialogue with the surgeon before getting a mommy makeover, ask questions, discuss potential risks and complications, and voice any fears or concerns that may arise.

Discussing Concerns

It’s important to discuss all concerns with the surgeon before making a final decision about undergoing any type of plastic surgery, such as a mommy makeover. Knowing and understanding the potential risks and complications associated with the different procedures can help alleviate fears related to going under the knife.

Addressing Fears

It’s normal for women to have worries and concerns about any type of surgery, let alone an elective surgery. Patients must open up with their surgeons and ask questions about the procedure or anything else that may be worrying them to help manage these fears and ensure a safe surgical experience.

Frequently Asked Questions About Mommy Makeover Death Rate

1. What Risks are Associated With a Mommy Makeover?

The risks that can be expected with a mommy makeover procedure like any other surgery, are infection, bleeding, pain, wound infection, blood clots or discomfort during recovery, skin discoloration, or loss of sensation in the area where the procedure is performed.

2. Who Should Consider Getting a Mommy Makeover?

Mommy makeover is primarily made for women who have had children and want to regain the pre-baby figures. They must be healthy individuals who do not suffer from medical conditions that could increase their risk of complications due to general anesthesia and surgery.

Image Credit: Alenkasm / 123RF.com (Licensed).

Conclusion and Summary of Mommy Makeover Death Rate: Critical Factors to Consider

Mommy makeover surgeries are relatively safe and the death rate is extremely low in the United States. Yes, there are risks involved, but most of them are manageable and can be minimized through following post-op instructions and by the board certified plastic surgeon’s experience.

Traveling to a foreign country to have a mommy makeover surgery is not recommended. A recent ABC News story highlighted the risks and deaths that occurred in countries like Mexico, Thailand, Brazil, or India. The path to becoming a plastic surgeon in those foreign countries is not even close to the stringent medical and educational requirements of a board certified plastic surgeon in the U.S.

At the end of the day, mommy makeover procedures are essentially safe. But if you’re still worried, the best course of action is to find an experienced plastic surgeon reputable on patient care and safety.

Please note that this article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Before making any changes to your treatments, please consult with your healthcare provider to discuss the appropriateness and safety of such changes.

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About the Author

Dr. Brandon Richland, MD is a respected Board Certified Licensed Plastic Surgeon in Orange County / Southern California specializing in cosmetic and reconstructive surgeries.

Driven by his passion for medicine, Dr. Richland obtained his Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree from the prestigious program at Saint Louis University (SLU) School of Medicine in 2013. His exceptional skills were recognized when he received the McGraw Hill / Lange Medical Student Academic Achievement Award, and graduated top of his class with Honors. For his undergraduate degree, he attended University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and graduated with Honors in 2009.

To further enhance his surgical expertise, Dr. Richland completed his Residency in Plastic Surgery at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) from 2013 to 2019 earning the Academic Achievement Award twice during this period. A total of 14 years in dedicated schooling and medical residency.

Dr. Richland is actively involved with healthcare and medical societies, as a Diplomate of the American Board of Plastic Surgery, a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, and the California Society of Plastic Surgeons.

Contact Dr. Richland today by visiting RichlandMD.com, scheduling a cosmetic consultation, or by calling 714-241-0646 or 949-945-0025 directly.