Tummy Tuck Risks and Side Effects

Tummy Tuck Risks and Side Effects

Tummy tucks, also referred to as abdominoplasty, are among the most frequently performed cosmetic procedures, with nearly 150,000 performed in 2008 alone. While most of the procedures are performed safely and with a high degree of success, there are some potential tummy tuck risks and complications to be concerned about. Plastic Surgery Portal has a listing of the risks to watch out for with tummy tucks, along with things you can do to greatly minimize your potential for complications.

Risks of Anesthesia
Tummy tucks are done under both general anesthesia and local anesthesia with sedation. General anesthesia tends to carry more risks, which include:

  • Allergic reaction to the medication
  • Nausea or vomiting during or after the procedure
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Aspiration (occurs when fluid is inhaled into the respiratory tract)

Anesthesia risks are rare and can be further minimized by having an experienced anesthesiologist present to monitor the patient during the entire procedure. Local anesthesia with sedation offers fewer risks, which might include a headache or hung over feeling after the surgery. If you are concerned about the risks associated with general anesthesia, talk to your doctor about whether local anesthesia with sedation would be a better choice for you.

General Plastic Surgery Risks
Every surgery offers the potential for a list of standard complications that may be seen with nearly any type of procedure performed. General surgical risks include:

  • Infection
  • Excessive bleeding from the incision site
  • Swelling or bruising, particularly at the incision site
  • Blood clots or deep vein thrombosis
  • Hematoma (collection of blood outside the blood vessel), or seroma (pocket of clear fluid)
  • Tissue death or skin numbness
  • Scarring after the procedure

Most of these risks can be minimized by choosing an experienced plastic surgeon and following pre- and post-operative instructions carefully. For example, the risk of blood clots can be reduced by wearing surgical compression garments for a period of time after the procedure. Other complications, like infection, can be effectively treated by your doctor.

Specific Risks of Tummy Tucks
In addition to the general risks listed above, there are other potential complications directly related to the type of procedure performed. In the case of a tummy tuck, risks might include:

  • Necrosis (death of fatty tissue or skin tissue)
  • Puckered skin in the abdominal area
  • Slower than normal healing
  • Dissatisfaction with results of procedure
  • Pain that doesn't go away quickly

In some tummy tucks, fat may liquefy and drain out through the incision. Doctors will frequently insert a drainage tube just for this purpose. The drainage is not serious and will stop once the fat has drained out completely. At that time, your doctor can remove the drainage tube.

Choosing a Plastic Surgeon for Your Tummy Tuck
Many tummy tuck risks and side effects can be greatly reduced by choosing a plastic surgeon who is highly skilled and experienced in performing abdominoplasty procedures. Factors to consider when choosing a doctor include:

  • Experience – Find a doctor who is very experienced in performing tummy tucks. Ask how many he has done and if the patients were all satisfied with the results.
  • Certification – Board certification tells you that your doctor graduated from a reputable medical school and has ample experience in cosmetic surgery under his belt.
  • Professional Membership – Membership in a professional organization often indicates your doctor is committed to ongoing training to keep up on the latest cosmetic procedures
  • Photos – Ask to see tummy tuck before and after photos of previous patients. This step will show you the surgeon's work and provide you with realistic expectations for your own tummy tuck.
  • It is also important to follow all pre- and post-operative instructions carefully to ensure your body has the best possible environment for healing and recovery.

    All plastic surgery carries a degree of risk, but by choosing your tummy tuck surgeon wisely and following instructions meticulously, you can greatly reduce your risk and enjoy a safe, successful procedure. Contact us today to arrange a personal consultation with a tummy tuck specialist near you.

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