Local tummy tuck or abroad
There are definitely advantages to having any procedure performed near your home. The main concern is having an unforeseen problem postoperatively which can occur with any surgery and with any surgeon. I would be very concerned about a 4 hour plane trip within 7-10 days of either or both surgeries. I am not sure of the facial procedure that you want to undergo, but there are a great many qualified plastic surgeons in the Chicago area with whom you could consult.
Getting tummy tuck surgery Out of Town
The logistics of getting surgery out of town are not impossible. There are several issues that have to be considered. First, for the tummy tuck you will have drains that will need to be in place for 7-10 days and occasionally up to 14 days.
Second, for facial work I like to see the patients the day after surgery then every week for the first 3 weeks. Next, you have to consider the possibility of complications. Murphy’s Law being what it is something will happen when you least can afford to stay longer out of state.
I can’t imagine that your facial surgery can ONLY be done by someone 4 hours away by plane. Perhaps you need a few more consultations to get a better handle on what you really need. (Christopher L. Hess, MD, Fairfax Plastic Surgeon)
Having abdominoplasty out of town
Having surgery away from your home is not as easy as you might think. And, it is certainly not as safe, particularly if you are not staying in the vicinity of your surgeon during the recovery period (which, for a tummy tuck, could be several weeks).
Aside from the increased risks of blood clots in your legs (deep venous thrombosis or DVT’s) when traveling soon after a tummy tuck, there are always things that come up. You may have drains that are not ready to be removed before you are planning to return to your home. There can be minor wound healing problems, localized infections, or other unrelated things having to do with your health.
And very simply, the closer you are to your surgeon, the better your care will be. It may also be a good idea to separate these operations so that you can fully recover form one before tackling the other. While a single anesthetic is attractive on some levels, it may be better to break up your operations in terms of the ease of your recovery.
But above all, remember that these are major operations. You overall health and well being are the most important concerns. Don’t compromise; always do what is safest. And, there are many very talented, board certified plastic surgeons in the Chicago area. I would be most surprised if your needs were not able to be taken care of in your home town. Best of luck! David B. (David B. Reath, MD, Knoxville Plastic Surgeon)
Plastic surgery locally or or travel for a distant expert
In performing surgery on our local patients, we have concerns that can easily be evaluated by examining the patient. When a patient travels, these concerns may be difficult to manage over a distance. If you are set on the long distance plastic surgeon, it may be wise to make arrangements to stay there until clear. For a facelift this means about 10 days (in my opinion).
The risks of a tummy tuck and postoperative management are generally longer than that. For example a drain may be in for 7-10 days before they are removed. Then we typically see patients a week after that to exclude the possibility of fluid accumulation. Futhermore serious risks such as a blood clot are definitely higher with a tummy tuck and can be aggravated by travel within two weeks of surgery. If you are seeking the care of a board certified plastic surgeon, I am sure they will concur. (Otto Joseph Placik, MD, Chicago Plastic Surgeon)
Have cosmetic surgery done locally whenever possible
Travelling to have surgery increases the risks of postoperative complications and should be avoided whenever possible. You correctly mention the risk of blood clots with long airplane flights and the general discomfort of travel. But there is more than that to worry about. I follow my patients for months after surgery and usually see them 4 to 6 times in the first month of surgery.
Postoperative healing requires monitoring that is best done by seeing your surgeon in person. It is not possible to make assessments over the phone, even a photograph may not tell the whole story in the case of a complication. I would hate for one of my patients to be seen in an emergency room in another city and have to get care from physicians who have not been their primary surgeon. Sometimes travelling for surgery in unavoidable.
But you live in Chicago and I am hard pressed to know what kind of facial surgery you are planning that can only be done a 4 hour plane ride away. There are excellent plastic surgeons in your home city. As a professional society we have very large requirements for continuing medical education and take great pride in learning new techniques and staying up to date.
I would love more information on a surgeon who says that he or she is the only one who can do a procedure. Even complex reconstructive facial surgery can be done at one of the severaly excellent plastic surgery programs in Chicago. Stay home and have local tummy tuck if you can. (Elizabeth Slass Lee, MD, Bay Area Plastic Surgeon)
Traveling for operation
Unless you are in an isolated region, which Chicago is not, I would recommend having your local tummy tuck. Even if you stay in town for a week or two after surgery long term follw up will give better results if there is a problem such as a fluid collection or poor scarring. I have taken care of patients who decide to have their surgery outside of the country if there is a problem you must see another surgeon, someone who you probably have never met and who has not done your case. (Sharon Theresa McLaughlin MD, Long Island City Plastic Surgeon)