Complications of the Flu

Getting H1N1 while recovering from Cosmetic Surgery

Patients recovering from cosmetic surgery have a similar chance of being exposed to the flu as the rest of the population.   Therefore, H1N1-Swine Flu or seasonal influenza can and does occur sometimes following cosmetic surgery if the patient is exposed and does not have sufficient immunity.   The symptoms of the flu can be accentuated during the normal course of recovery after surgery.   Depending on the cosmetic surgery procedure, hospitalization may even be necessary to treat the flu.

What should you do if you think you have the flu after cosmetic surgery?   First, call your plastic surgeon.   They need to be notified of your symptoms, so they can help guide you through the recovery process.   An additional consultation with you primary care physician will most likely be necessary and recommended by your surgeon.

Secondly, coughing is one of the most common symptoms of influenza.   After surgery, coughing may cause bleeding beneath the skin or around implants.   Bleeding after tummy tucks and facelifts can lead to skin death and loss.   If the bleeding is significant, emergency surgery might become necessary.   When bleeding occurs around breast implants, the risk of firmness or capsular contracture is dramatically increased, so surgery might be necessary in this situation, as well.

Avoid dehydration.   It is normal to experience mild dehydration after surgery, however, the flu can compound the problem and lead to hypovolemia problems like dizziness, fainting and nausea.

Finally, the CDC does not specifically recommend anti-viral therapy (Tamiflu) for post-operative patients at this time.   Tummy tucks and breast surgery often makes taking a deep breath more difficult.   The reduced inspiratory volume or inhale capacity in these cases significantly increases the risk of serious pneumonia.   This increased risk warrants consideration of such drugs only if the symptoms are caught within 24 to 48 hours after they begin.   Careful periodic medical evaluation during the course of the influenza is also important in detecting and treating pneumonia early.

Minimize your risk.   Using the standard precautions issued by the CDC (http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/preventing.htm) during flu season is an effective way to reduce your chances of catching the flu.

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