Understanding Potential Complications and Risks from Cosmetic and Plastic Surgery
All invasive surgery has risks. So, what are the risks of cosmetic surgery?
The key is to understand what the risks are and what you can do to minimise or prevent them. However, it’s important to state that some complications and surgery risks may occur randomly, despite having chosen the best surgeon, top hospital and best practice procedure and wound care. Despite evidence-based medicine, all surgery carries risks.
- Cosmetic Surgery is invasive.
- The skin is surgically incised. And, the tissue is either re-adjusted OR removed.
- ALL invasive procedures carry risks. Some risks can be mitigated, but others can occur randomly.
- Risks of General Surgery – Overview
- What risks are there in having Surgery or Anaesthesia?
Pain or Discomfort
- Mild to moderate pain is normal and can be expected after liposuction.
- The pain will tend to be worse with certain types of liposuction or with liposuction on the lower half of the body.
- If your pain becomes severe and is not relieved by pain medication, let your Surgeon know immediately. This may mean you have a complication.
- With no drain procedures for most patients, your post-op discomfort should be minimised – but do expect pain as an inherent part of your procedure.
Upset Tummy including Nausea or Vomiting
- Some people have reactions to Anaesthetic
- Nausea or post-op vomiting often relate to your body’s reaction to the Anaesthetic
- This usually resolves relatively quickly (a few hours).
- However, some patients might experience ongoing vomiting, especially if they have digestive sensitivities to pain relief medications or post-op antibiotics where these are given.
- Sometimes infections can also cause an upset stomach or nausea, so be sure to check with your Surgeon.
- Risks of vomiting and nausea: if persisting, you could develop dehydration.
- You should contact your surgeon if nausea and vomiting persist and you may need to become re-hydrated.
Swelling, Bruising and Skin Discolouration
- Discolouration from bruising may take several weeks to resolve.
- Moderate swelling and bruising are normal after surgery
- Severe swelling and bruising may indicate bleeding and should be investigated by your Surgeon or medical team
- Severe swelling or elevated temperature can also indicate a possible infection
- Expect swelling and bruising to settle more quickly with your post-op support or ‘compression’ garment
- You can also apply Arnica ointment to the treated areas (ask your Surgeon) – typically for the first several weeks following the operation
- Our Rapid Recovery packages can aid your recovery process – be sure to find out how to best use the products for optimal healing after Liposuction
- Don’t be surprised that some intermittent swelling or discolouration may persist for up to 12 months after you have your Lipo surgery.
Haematoma and Bleeding
- Bleeding can occur during or after ANY operation; some bleeding will result in skin discolouration or skin bruising.
- Continued bleeding may result in a collection of blood under your skin; be sure to notify your Surgeon if bleeding after surgery persists.
- Smaller collections of blood that occur under your skin will typically absorb somewhat spontaneously.
- But a LARGE collection of blood under the skin (a haematoma), whilst uncommon after liposuction, CAN impede healing or cause complications including pressure under the skin.
- Haematomas tend to occur in the first 24 hours after surgery
- They require aspiration or surgical drainage in an operating room
- Usually, they’d also require you to under a General Anaesthetic for draining of the accumulated blood.
- The presence of a haematoma, even if evacuated, may predispose you to potential infections
- Antibiotics are typically recommended if you have had a Haematoma or are at risk
- Haemorrhage risks can also be increased
- Bruising can occur for several weeks following your liposuction.
- Bruising or late bleeding with bruising (skin discolouration) might indicate an infection, physical exertion (overdoing it), aspirin ingestion or an unrecognized bleeding disorder.
How to avoid excess bleeding after Surgery
- Hypertension (high blood pressure) that is not fully controlled, or which is volatile, may sometimes cause excess bleeding during or after your surgery.
- Aspirin, anti-inflammatory tablets and mega doses of certain vitamins (particularly vitamin E) can impact on your blood’s ability to clot.
- These can also lead to excessive bleeding.
- Thereby it is often recommended by your Surgeon that you do NOT take any aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications for at least 10 days PRIOR to your surgery date.
- These medications and similar supplements can lead to greater risks of infection, bruising, bleeding or swelling.
- You should also discuss any and all drugs, medications and even vitamin supplements that you take, so as to learn how to prepare best for your Liposuction surgery and minimise your medication-related bleeding risks.
- Your Surgeon will give you more details about what you CAN or SHOULDN’T take or which you should ADAPT your intake of, prior to your surgery .(examples include anticoagulant medications such as heparin or warfarin, which can lead to more bleeding).
- You’ll need specific guidance from your Surgeon and medical care team.
- Life-threatening complications.
- Include pulmonary embolism, cardiac arrhythmia, heart attack, stroke or massive infection These are thankfully rare but can occur.
- Pulmonary (lung) complications.
- Pulmonary complications are uncommon and may occur secondary to either a blood clot starting in the legs (pulmonary embolism), aspiration of stomach secretions or partial collapse of the lungs after general anaesthesia.
Elevated Risks of Surgery vs Normal Risk Rates
Are my risks higher than normal?
- Some additional or ELEVATED RISKS from having surgery MAY APPLY to certain patients.
- Risks and potential COMPLICATIONS with HIGHER RISK rates:
- maybe due to genetics or weight/Body Mass Index
- might be related to underlying health conditions or allergies and sensitivities
- can be related to substance use, habits or lifestyle factors, SUCH as smoking, bacteria-laden environments or improper wound care
- they may occur based on your use or intake of medications, herbs and/or other substances (legal or illicit)
- or, possibly improper nutrition, disturbed sleep habits or apnea/breathing issues
- SMOKING means you’ll incur higher complication RISKS and health risks at all stages of your procedure
- OBESITY can also increase your risks
- PRIOR reactions to any type of surgical procedure or medications (including allergies) may also mean your particular SURGERY RISKS are higher
- Other factors may increase your risks such as having more than one or two procedures at one time (longer operating times)
- Discuss RISKS with your Surgeon during a consultation
FAQs about RISKS
What are the possible side effects, complications and risks of the surgery?
Surgery is serious business and there are complications. All our operators are experienced, qualified plastic surgeons. In other words, they will explain, in detail ALL the risks and complications related to your surgery. You will be fully informed and consent was given prior to undertaking any surgery.
What is your surgery success rate (Surgical Complications Statistics)?
It is ironic that many surgeons who claim to have low complication rates never actually see their own patients with the surgical complication – their patients go elsewhere for revision surgery to get it fixed.
Our highly-experienced group of Plastic Surgeons do revision surgeries and attract unhappy patients from all over the country.
Other surgeons really know which surgeons do the best work.
There are published plastic surgery industry statistics for rates of infection and complications like Hematoma and Seroma. During your consultation, you will be informed about your risks and you will be asked to sign a consent form. Rest assured that we do everything possible to reduce infection and complication rates.
How can I reduce my risks?
How can I reduce my Cosmetic Surgery Risks?
- what you do BEFORE and AFTER surgery can minimise some risks.
- Others may occur randomly.
- It’s important to have a healthy lifestyle, NEVER to smoke AND to follow your Surgeon’s specific surgery PREPARATION and surgery RECOVERY protocols.
Be sure you understand the risks before proceeding with cosmetic procedures.
- If you’re one of the unlucky patients who experiences a potential complication or health concern after surgery,
- be sure you notify your Surgeon IMMEDIATELY and/or your medical practitioners AND
- Discuss your best treatment options with your Special Plastic Surgeon
- Recognise that having a complication may delay your recovery time and healing
TIP: Discuss Risks with your Surgeon and be sure you understand the surgery consent forms before proceeding.
Disclaimer: This list of cosmetic surgery risks is not fully inclusive. NOR does this list replace or constitute medical advice.
Plastic Surgeon’s Recommendations
Do your research!
- Your CONSULTATION will cover risks.
- RISKS will be listed on the consent form.
- You’re advised to do your own research as well but rely on reputable sources such as Harvard Medical, MAYO clinic or similarly reputable medical sites.
- Ask your Surgeon for the detailed list of potential cosmetic surgery risks or potential complications, including RISKS specific to certain procedures.
- READ all materials and VIDEOS provided to you.
- Follow your Surgeon’s advice carefully to REDUCE RISKS when possible.
- Understand not everything in surgery recovery may go to plan – but choosing an expert Surgeon AND having surgery in an accredited private hospital, you’ll at least be in GOOD HANDS should something not go to plan.
- Complications, however, could delay your recovery.
Normal Recovery vs Complications
Learning about your risks and what to expect during normal recovery.
What to expect
Your Specialist Plastic Surgeons in Melbourne or Sydney will go over surgery risks with you in detail during a confidential consultation for your procedure.
- It’s important to be honest with your Surgeon about prior cosmetic surgeries, lifestyle habits, allergies, medications and supplements as well as emotional health and mental states.
- These can all impact your surgery risks.
- Second opinions about cosmetic surgery from one of our expert Plastic Surgeons may also be of benefit to some patients, especially those shopping on cosmetic surgery price who are unaware of differences in surgeons.
Understanding the Risks of Surgery is important – do your research and choose your Surgeon wisely.
- Choosing whether or not to proceed with plastic surgery or cosmetic surgery is a very personal decision and one that should be well-informed.
- Take your time, when asked to review possible complications.
- Consider the implications of surgery (there’s a mandatory waiting period)
- You will need to sign a consent form. This will indicate that you understand the procedure and risks and that you will follow your Surgeon’s advice.
Junior surgeons? Cheap offers for discount prices? Don’t let the cost suck you in. Find out what you are really getting.
- Be sure you understand the risks of choosing a less trained surgeon or junior doctor if you are having overseas surgery or surgery by a cosmetic surgeon.
- Understand the value of choosing a top Plastic Surgeon who is accredited by RACS (look for FRACS Plastic and membership in ASAPS, ASPS and ISAPS to be sure you’re getting a genuinely qualified Specialist Plastic Surgeon in Australia.)
*Disclaimer: Risks may be minor or severe, and you need to read these fully and understand them before consenting to your procedure.