General Risks and Complications of Cosmetic Surgery

Understanding Potential Risks and Complications from Cosmetic and Plastic Surgery in Melbourne VIC

Cosmetic and Plastic Surgery like any surgical procedure, carries certain risks and potential complications that patients should be aware of before undergoing treatment. The specific risks can vary depending on the type of cosmetic surgery and an individual’s health.

During your consultation your Surgeon will outline the risks and possible complications in detail as part of your informed consent process. Our surgeons take every step possible to reduce risks, however surgical complications can still occur.

What Can you Do to Minimise the Potential Risks and Complications of Surgery?

  • Choose a Qualified Surgeon: Research and select a fully qualified experienced Surgeon who specialises in the specific type of surgery you are considering. Verify their credentials and reputation.
  • Discuss Your Medical History: Provide your Surgeon with a complete, honest and accurate medical history, including all medical conditions, medications, allergies, and previous surgeries.
  • Set Realistic Expectations: Discuss your goals and expectations with your surgeon to ensure they are realistic and achievable through the chosen procedure.
  • Informed Consent: Understand the surgical procedure, it’s potential risks and complications and the expected outcomes. Sign an informed consent form after discussing the procedure in detail with your surgeon.
  • Preoperative Evaluation: Complete all pre-operative tests and evaluations as recommended by your surgeon to identify and address any potential issues before surgery.
  • Lifestyle Choices: Prioritise a healthy lifestyle by maintaining a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and refraining from smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, as these factors can impact surgical outcomes.
  • Follow Preoperative Instructions: It is vital to adhere to all preoperative and postoperative instructions provided by your Surgeon.
  • Manage Chronic Health Conditions: If you have chronic health conditions like Diabetes or Hypertension, ensure they are well managed and controlled before surgery.
  • Discuss Medications and Supplements: Inform your surgeon about all medications and supplements you are taking as some may need to be adjusted or temporarily discontinued before the surgery.
  • Follow Postoperative Instructions: Carefully follow your surgeon’s postoperative instructions, including wound care, medication schedules, and activity restrictions.
  • Attend Follow-Up Appointments: Attend all scheduled follow up appointments with your Surgeon to monitor your progress and address any concerns or complications promptly.

By taking these precautions and closely following your Surgeon’s recommendations, you can significantly reduce the risks and complications associated with surgery and increase your chances of a successful outcome.

Possible Risks and Complications

Cosmetic Surgery like any surgical procedure, carries certain risks and potential complications that patients should be aware of before undergoing treatment. While the specific risks can vary depending on the type of cosmetic surgery and an individual’s health, here are some general risks and complications associated with cosmetic procedures:


Surgical site infections can occur, leading to redness, swelling, pain, and sometimes more severe complications. Maintaining proper wound care and following postoperative instructions is crucial in preventing infection.


All surgical procedures result in some degree of scarring. The extent of scarring varies depending on factors like the type of surgery, surgical technique, and individual healing abilities.


A Haematoma is a collection of blood that can accumulate under the skin, causing swelling, bruising, and potential complications.


A Seroma is a collection of serous fluid that can accumulate under the skin. It may require aspiration to remove the fluid and promote healing.

Swelling and Bruising

These are common side effects of cosmetic surgery and typically resolve over time. The duration and severity of swelling and bruising depend on the type of surgery and individual factors.

Pain and Discomfort

Postoperative pain and discomfort are common. Proper pain management is essential for a smoother recovery.

Allergic Reactions

Some individuals may have allergic reactions to anesthesia, sutures, or other materials used during surgery.

Anaesthesia Risks

Some of the risks associated with general anesthesia include:

  • Allergic Reactions: While rare, individuals can have allergic reactions to the drugs used in general anesthesia.
  • Breathing Difficulties: General anesthesia can sometimes lead to respiratory problems, including pneumonia or bronchitis.
  • Cardiovascular Issues: Anesthesia may cause changes in blood pressure, heart rhythm, or other cardiovascular problems, especially in individuals with pre-existing heart conditions.
  • Aspiration: There is a risk of inhaling stomach contents, which can lead to lung infections, particularly if you’ve recently eaten.
  • Nausea and Vomiting: Postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV) can affect some patients after waking from anesthesia.
  • Cognitive Issues: Older individuals may experience postoperative cognitive dysfunction (POCD), which can result in confusion, memory problems, or difficulty concentrating.
  • Malignant Hyperthermia: This is a rare but life-threatening genetic condition triggered by specific anesthesia medications.
  • Tooth Damage: Anesthesia can cause dental damage, such as chipped or broken teeth, especially when a breathing tube is used.
  • Throat Soreness: A sore throat can occur, especially when a breathing tube is employed.
  • Nerve Damage: Although rare, nerve damage can result from improper positioning during surgery.
  • Postoperative Pain: General anesthesia may affect your body’s ability to sense pain for a few hours after surgery, which could lead to discomfort as it wears off.

It’s important to discuss any concerns or pre-existing medical conditions with your anesthesiologist before undergoing surgery. They will take these factors into account when planning and administering your anesthesia, minimizing the risks associated with general anesthesia.

Unsatisfactory Results

Cosmetic Surgery outcomes may not always meet a patient’s expectations and revisions or additional procedures may be required to achieve the desired results.

Numbness or Altered Sensation

Nerve damage can result in temporary or permanent numbness or altered sensation in the surgical area.


Achieving perfect symmetry with cosmetic procedures can be challenging and there may be slight asymmetries in the final result.

Delayed Healing

Some individuals may experience delayed wound healing or complications related to scar tissue formation.

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) and Pulmonary Embolism (PE)

While rare Deep Vein Thrombosis and pulmonary embolism (blood clots in the legs or lungs) are potential risks of any surgery. They can be life-threatening.

It is important for individuals considering cosmetic surgery to choose a qualified and experienced surgeon, carefully evaluate the potential risks and have realistic expectations. Discussing any concerns and questions with the Surgeon during the preoperative consultation is essential for informed decision making. Additionally, following the Surgeon’s postoperative care instructions is crucial for minimising the risks and promoting a successful recovery.

Do Your Research

  • Begin by reflecting on your reasons for considering cosmetic surgery and establish clear, realistic goals for the procedure.
  • Research the specific cosmetic procedure you’re interested in. Understand what it involves, the expected outcomes, potential risks, and the recovery process. Reliable sources include medical websites, books, and articles.
  • Seek fully qualified Plastic Surgeons with expertise in the procedure you desire.
    • Verify their credentials, years of experience, and reputation through professional organisations such as FRACS (Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, ASPS (Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons, ASAPS (Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons).
  • Request to see before and after photos for previous patients who underwent the same procedure.
  • Read patient testimonials and reviews online but be cautious of unverified sources. Consider seeking feedback from friends or acquaintances who have had similar procedures.
  • Schedule consultations with a few Surgeons to discuss your goals, ask questions and evaluate their recommendations and communication style.
  • Understand and sign an informed consent form that details the procedure, potential complications, and expected outcomes. Ask your surgeon to explain any terms or concepts you don’t understand.
  • Clearly understand the total cost of the procedure, which may include Surgeon’s fees, facility fees, anaesthesia, and postoperative care.
  • Learn about the expected recovery time, postoperative care instructions, and any restrictions on daily activities. Ensure you can accommodate this in your schedule.
  • Understand your responsibilities before and after surgery, including lifestyle changes, medication management and any necessary preoperative preparations.

Comprehensive research ensures that you are well informed and can confidently make decisions about cosmetic surgery. It also helps you establish trust and open communication with your surgeon, which is vital for a positive surgical experience.

Download a Guide

Learn more about your procedure. For more information about Cosmetic and Plastic Surgery options and research in Australia download a guide.

Detailed Risks and Complications of Specific Surgeries

Breast Surgeries

Body Surgeries

Face Surgeries

Nose Surgeries

Gender Affirmation Surgery

Specialist Plastic Surgeons and ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) Surgeon

With a wealth of experience and training, our Specialist Plastic and ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) Surgeons are dedicated to best-practice patient care and education, customising Surgery for each and every patient to best meet their needs and desired surgical outcomes.

What to do next?

Our Patient Liaison Team can assist with any questions you may have when considering a procedure. You can send in an enquiry form below or call our Melbourne Clinic between 9 am – 5 pm Monday to Friday.

Phone 1300 599 990, Email us: or Book a FREE 15-minute Phone Chat with our Patient Liaison Manager or a Consultation with a Surgeon.

Disclaimer: Results depend on individual patient circumstances and can vary significantly. Results may also be impacted by a variety of factors including your lifestyle, weight, nutritional intake and overall health. Consult your Specialist Plastic Surgeon for details. This information is general in nature and is not intended to be medical advice nor does it constitute a doctor-patient relationship. Surgery risks and complications will be covered in detail during a consultation with your Surgeon.