How long should my operation take?

Many patients like to know how long an operation will take. Perhaps a better question for patients to ask would be “how long will it take to obtain an optimal result without compromising my care?” 

A study from Dallas has shown that after 3 hours of plastic surgery that the risks of complications start increasing. The chance of complications increased by over 50% by 4 hours and over 300% by 5 hours. There is no doubt that a prolonged operative time compromises patient care.


The time an operation takes is related not just to the surgeon’s ability but also to the surgical team, operating room staff and the anaesthetist. There are also inherent patient factors that affect surgical time and complex cases are often performed by more experienced surgeons with longer operative times. It is important that assessment of operative times includes some form of risk adjustment. Operative time is also not a simple refection of a surgeons technical skill but is also a reflection of his/her ability to manage the operative / surgical team. 


The term meticulous has been attributed to those surgeons who often spend longer in theatre than others. Another term would be slow. Those surgeons who are deemed to be quick are often labelled with being slapdash and not spending enough time obtaining the optimal result.  


The only way to assess optimal outcomes results is through patient derived outcome measures and validated on line reviews. Clinician related outcomes must compare these against their own revision rates / take back  / complication rates. 


Although operative time should not be a primary concern for patients – if a prolonged operative time increases complication rates then both patient and clinician outcome measures will be affected.  Therefore the question of how long an operation will take is a very pertinent question.


In Mr Ross’s cosmetic practice which includes combination surgeries, all surgery is performed in under 5 hours, >99% within 4 hours and >95% is carried out within 3 hours. In order to limit the surgical time Mr Ross has a surgical team, which may include other consultants and surgical assistants.  


Mr Ross’s validated on line reviews can easily be accessed by patients. Mr Ross’s patient / clinician feedback and revision and complication rates are also easily accessible through his website. A sample of Mr Ross’s average surgical times include: – breast augmentation 45 minutes, breast reduction / mastopexy / mastopexy implant 90 mins, facelift 120 mins, upper blepharoplasty 30 mins, rhinoplasty 75 mins, arm / thigh lift 75 mins, abdominoplasty 90 mins bodylift 165 minutes. 




Hardy KL, Davis KE, Constantine RS, Chen M, Hein R, Jewell JL, Dirisala K, Lysikowski J, Reed G, Kenkel JM.The impact of operative time on complications after plastic surgery: a multivariate regression analysis of 1753 cases.

Aesthet Surg J. 2014 May 1;34(4):614-22. 

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The Christie Clinic
550 Wilmslow Road
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