Plastic and cosmetic surgery, just like any other surgery, is not without risks. Such complications can happen to any patient, regardless of the surgeon’s skills and the hospital’s facilities. If you are considering a cosmetic procedure, it is important to understand exactly what the risks are and what you can do to prevent or minimise them. Here is an overview of some of the general risks that can occur with any plastic surgery procedure.
Understanding the potential risks and complications of plastic surgery
Every surgery has it’s own procedure-specific risks. Some general risks that can potentially occur across a number of procedures include:
Scarring is an unavoidable part of any surgical procedure. Despite that, Dr Anh always aims to create incisions in locations that can be easily hidden and scars do often fade and disappear over time. However, some people do scar more than others, depending on a range of factors.
All surgeries carry a risk of infection and this is one of the more common complications of plastic surgery. This can be minimised by proper wound care and frequent hand washing.
Nerve damage and numbness:
Numbness and tingling are both common after plastic surgery and may be a sign of nerve damage. Usually, this nerve damage is temporary, however it can be permanent in some instances.
Poor cosmetic outcome:
Unfortunately, plastic surgery sometimes fails to achieve your aesthetic goals and can even create further problems, such as asymmetry. Other times, you may simply not like the results. Dr Anh is often sought after to perform revision surgeries and it is for this reason that we recommend choosing a reputable and experienced Specialist Plastic Surgeon.
Pain and discomfort:
Mild to moderate pain and discomfort is normal following any surgical procedure. This can usually be managed with pain medication, however if the pain become severe it may be a sign of a further complication.
Swelling, bruising and skin discolouration:
Moderate swelling and bruising is normal after surgery and may take several weeks to subside. Despite that, severe bruising and swelling may indicate bleeding or infection and will require investigation by your surgeon.
Hematoma and bleeding:
Bleeding can and will occur after your procedure and usually only becomes an issue when it is excessive, or when it continues after the wounds should have healed. A hematoma occurs when a large amount of blood collects under the skin and can impair healing and cause additional complications.
A seroma occurs when excess fluid accumulates under the skin. This is common after a tummy tuck and may need to be drained with a needle to avoid infection.
Most people tolerate anaesthesia without any issue, however anaesthesia complications can occur. Some of these are more minor, such as shivering and nausea, while other complications are more serious, including stroke, heart attacks and even death.
While the risk is less than one percent, every surgery, including those considered minor, has a risk of death.
Dr Anh will discuss all potential risks with you during your initial consultation.
Risk factors for complications
Some patients may be at a higher risk of experiencing surgical complications than others. Some of these risk factors include:
- A high weight or body mass index
- Underlying health conditions, allergies or sensitivities
- Alcohol and drug use
- Certain medications
- Improper nutrition
- Undergoing multiple procedures at the same time
How can I reduce the risks?
Luckily, there are a number of things that you can do to reduce the risk of complications. The best and easiest way to reduce the risk of a bad outcome is to do your research when choosing a plastic surgeon. It is critical that you understand the value of choosing a Specialist Plastic Surgeon who is a FRACS, ASAPS and ASPS member, as opposed to an overseas doctor or one offering discount prices.
Simple lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking and eating a healthy diet before and after your procedure can assist in minimising the duration of the healing process, improve wound closure and minimise the risk of unfavourable scarring.
In fact, smoking is one of the single biggest predictors of post-operative complications. Smokers are more prone to wound breakdowns, and generally heal slower than their non-smoking counterparts. We suggest ceasing smoking six to eight weeks before surgery, and not smoking six to eight weeks following surgery.
Following Dr Anh’s specific pre and post operation instructions will also reduce the risk of any complications.
Ensuring you understand the risks before proceeding with surgery
It is absolutely critical that you entirely understand the risks before proceeding with your cosmetic procedure. This means being honest with Dr Anh about your lifestyle habits, medications and supplements, allergies and emotional health during your discussion of risks and being sure that you understand the surgery consent forms before proceeding.
If you are one of the rare, unlucky patients who experiences a complication or health concern after surgery, be sure to notify Dr Anh immediately.
What is my next step?
Our wonderful team is standing by ready to answer any questions you may have. You can send in an enquiry form below or give us a call on 1300 8-DRANH between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday.