My blood values are low. Can I STILL have PLASTIC surgery?
An appropriate blood count is required to be a candidate for elective plastic surgery. In otherwise healthy individuals, low blood counts are the most common reason for canceling or postponing surgery.
What does a low blood count mean?
What causes low blood counts?
What can be done to treat low blood counts?
Which tests are necessary before my plastic surgery?
In order to be eligible for aesthetic surgery, your general health condition must be well. Unlike other surgeries that may be deemed necessary, such as general surgery and heart surgery, plastic surgery is completely arbitrary. It is something you want, but not something you need.
Therefore, your plastic surgeon should never put you at unnecessary risk for a surgery that will make you look better. If your surgery was to save your life, some risks would be necessary, but this is not the case for elective cosmetic surgery.
Before your surgery, you need to undergo a full medical evaluation to make sure you are healthy and that your surgery can be performed safely. You will undergo an examination to assess your heart and lungs. Your plastic surgeon may order special tests for any pre-existing medical problems.
You should also have blood tests to better assess your health. One of these blood tests will measure your blood cells and especially your hemoglobin level.
What is Hemoglobin?
Hemoglobin is a substance found in red blood cells that makes it possible for blood to carry oxygen throughout the body. Hemoglobin is an iron-rich protein that gives red blood cells their color. Red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body and need hemoglobin to do so.
The normal level of hemoglobin depends on your age and gender:
Women: 12 or higher
Men 13 or over
What are the Symptoms of Anemia (Low Hemoglobin Level)?
A proper level of oxygen in your blood is essential for the normal functioning of your body. If a person has a low hemoglobin level, they will have a lower level of oxygen in their blood. This condition can deprive body cells of vital oxygen. This is called anemia. A proper level of oxygen in your blood is essential for the normal functioning of your body. The symptoms associated with anemia are determined by the severity of the anemia. Mild anemia can make you feel tired and fatigued. You may have low energy and even feel cold.
Moderate anemia is more worrying and can cause a fast heartbeat, dizziness and shortness of breath. This is because the amount of oxygen in your body is low and your heart automatically tries to work harder and pump faster and your lungs try to get more oxygen from the air. Severe anemia can lead to heart attacks, arrhythmias, stroke and even death. Adequate blood oxygen levels are also essential to help you recover from injury or surgery.
This means that even moderate anemia can increase your risk of having wound healing problems after your plastic surgery.
Your hemoglobin level is determined by a simple blood test called a complete blood count or hemogram. This is one of the standard blood tests taken when preparing for surgery.
What are the Causes of Anemia?
There are several causes of low hemoglobin. First, your hemoglobin level may be low because you are bleeding or losing blood. This will happen after surgery, after trauma or most commonly if you have very heavy menstrual periods. Women with heavy menstrual bleeding often have a low hemoglobin level due to blood loss. Other causes of blood loss can be bleeding hemorrhoids, bleeding ulcers or even colon cancers.
However, one of the most common causes of low hemoglobin levels is iron deficiency. Iron is essential in the production of blood cells and hemoglobin. Anything that causes a decrease in iron in the body can lead to a low blood count. This iron deficiency may be due to a lack of iron, which is commonly found in meats such as red meat and liver.
Vegetarians often have some degree of iron deficiency and are encouraged to increase their consumption of non-meat foods high in iron, such as beans. People with iron deficiency anemia need daily iron supplementation with iron pills. This is usually very successful in raising hemoglobin levels but may take several weeks to show improvement.
People who have had bariatric (sleeve gastrectomy) surgery are also prone to anemia. This is because they lack a critical part of the stomach, which is necessary for the absorption of vitamins and minerals needed for red blood cell production.
Other less common causes of anemia include
Genetic diseases such as sickle cell anemia or thalassemia
Bone marrow diseases such as leukemia
B12 or Folate deficiency
How can I treat my anemia?
A combination of history and laboratory tests can help determine the cause of your anemia. Treatment will depend on the cause of your anemia. If your anemia is caused by blood loss, such as heavy menstrual periods, you will need to see your gynecologist for an evaluation. Sometimes birth control pills can regulate your menstrual cycle. People with iron deficiency anemia will need to take a daily iron supplement in pills.
This is usually very successful in raising hemoglobin levels but may take several weeks to show improvement. In extreme cases of iron deficiency, intravenous iron infusions may sometimes be necessary. In some cases, such as in genetic diseases, it may not be possible to raise the hemoglobin level. Treatment of your anemia may require the intervention of a haematologist, or a doctor who specializes in blood disorders.
What should my hemoglobin level be for surgery?
I usually require my patients to have a hemoglobin level of at least 12 in order to be admitted for surgery. This will of course vary depending on the planned procedure, as some procedures normally lose more blood than others. Breast augmentation surgery will have almost no blood loss, while Mommy Makeover surgery will have more blood loss.
Because all surgeries cause some normal blood loss, it is expected that there will be some drop in your hemoglobin level after your surgery.
If you are starting from a low level before surgery, the level may be more noticeably lower after surgery. This can prepare you for possible complications after surgery, even if you have never experienced any signs of anemia before. For this reason, in some cases, a blood transfusion may be necessary after the surgery.
Avoiding serious complications during surgery and improving your recovery depends on having an appropriate hemoglobin level before surgery. If you are not sure about your hemoglobin level, you can have it tested very easily. If you are always feeling a little sluggish or a little more tired, or if you look a little paler than your friends, you may be suffering from anemia.