Risks of Cosmetic Surgery and Potential Complications
All plastic surgery has risks. Part of successful surgery is understanding your risks and knowing what you can do to minimise or prevent the risks of cosmetic surgery.
Plastic surgery is invasive, meaning your skin will be incised surgically, and your tissue will either be readjusted or removed. There are many risks and it is important to discuss the specific risks pertaining to your surgery with your surgeon.
Some complications and surgery risks occur randomly despite having a top plastic surgeon, quality hospital, the best cosmetic surgery, and top post-op wound care.
Dr Patrick Briggs will cover your personal risks and potential complications during your consultation. All information on this page is general in nature – for further advice see a medical professional.
Risks of General Surgery
General risks associated with surgery, as well a plastic surgery, can include:
1. Risks of General Anaesthesia Risks
Some patients have a reaction to anaesthesia. If you have had any allergic reactions in the past please tell your surgeon and anaesthetist.
Prior to surgery, you will be provided with the details of your anaesthetist. This will allow you to discuss any specific concerns you may have. Most healthy patients respond well to general anaesthesia.
2. Bleeding (Hematoma)
Sometimes following surgery, a collection of blood may pool at the surgical site. Should this occur, a visit to the operating theatre may be necessary to remove the hematoma or other potential bleeding problems.
3. Fluid Build-Up (Seroma)
There is a risk of an accumulation of fluid or seroma formation.
There is a risk of wound infection and wound breakdown. Should an infection develop following surgery, your surgeon will prescribe antibiotics as appropriate and monitor your progress closely.
5. Delayed Wound Healing
Delayed wound healing may occur. This is often more likely in patients who are overweight, have underlying health conditions such as diabetes, or who don’t follow good nutrition. It is also found in smokers, or where an infection develops. Your surgeon and nurse coordinator will manage the healing process. They will be able to take the necessary steps if delayed wound healing occurs.
6. Scarring or hypertrophic scars
Serious, Life Threatening Risks of Surgery
1. Deep Vein Thrombosis or Deep Vein Embolism
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a serious condition. It can occur when a blood clot occurs in a vein located deep inside the body, typically in the thigh or lower leg. It is important to inform your surgeon right away if you suspect you are experiencing symptoms of DVT so appropriate medications and therapies can be prescribed immediately.
2. A Stroke or Death
With every surgery or general anesthesia, there is a very small chance of serious long term injury or death.
Risk Factors for Cosmetic Surgery Risks
There are some additional risks from having surgery that may apply to certain patients. Some patients have higher risks rates due to:
- Smoking and Nicotine intake, which can cause higher complication risks at all stages of your procedures.
- Substance use or lifestyle factors like smoke or bacteria-laden environments.
- Improper wound care – follow your surgeon’s instructions for wound care. Do not touch the wound or change bandages in an unsterile way.
- Being obese or overweight – having a high BMI can also increase your risks.
- Underlying health conditions, allergies or sensitivities.
- Your Genetics.
Smoking and Surgery – Don’t Smoke!
Your overall health will impact your healing processes, including your inflammation levels.
Smoking or vaping is one of the greatest risk factors when it comes to optimal results from plastic surgery. Smoking interferes with your health as well as your skin health and its healing capacity. Further, it is recommended that you are open with your surgeon regarding your smoking habits, even if you are a closet or social smoker. It is generally recommended you do not pursue surgery until you have quit smoking for an extended period of time. You must not smoke after surgery for at least a few weeks. Passive smoking, nicotine patches and vaping can be just as harmful as smoking.
Risks of Breast Surgery and Breast Implant Surgery
Breast procedures come with their own particular complications. Common side effects of breast surgery include discomfort, skin sensation changes, bruising and swelling. Most resolve over a period of weeks but skin sensation changes can last longer. More serious risks can include:
- Nipple sensitivity can occur. You may lose nipple sensation permanently; however, this is very rare. Most patients lose nipple sensation temporarily and as nerve endings start to re-connect underneath the skin, sensations will return to the area
- Nipple Loss/Necrosis is a rare complication that occurs often in smokers. It may affect all or part of the nipple
- The ability to breastfeed may be affected
- Allergies to tape, suture materials and glues, blood products, topical preparations or injected agents
- Poor scarring, including keloid scarring (more common in patients with higher skin pigmentation/darker skin)
- Breast implant issues if you have a breast lift with an augmentation using breast implants (skin wrinkling, implant rupture)
- Capsular contracture if having a combined breast lift with augmentation
- Breast Asymmetry (uneven breasts or nipples)
- There is also a risk of BII (Breast Implant Illness) and BIA-ALCL
Useful Resources on reducing your Risks of Cosmetic Surgery
- Read our blog on How to lose weight before surgery
- Minimising risks of Breast Reduction Surgery
- Tips for Recovery after Surgery
Summary of Patient Consent and Risks of Cosmetic Surgery
It is important to do your research in order to understand the risks associated with your chosen surgery. Surgical risks will also be covered in detail in your consultation with Dr Patrick Briggs and again before you proceed with surgery. Further, risks and complications are also on your informed consent forms and ASPS Surgery Documentation.
You will be given a detailed list of potential plastic surgery risks or potential complications, including risks, specific to certain procedures. It is also important to read all materials provided to you regarding your procedure. Further, ensure you follow your surgeon’s advice carefully to help reduce risks where possible.
Finally, understand that not everything in surgery will go as planned but choosing one of Australia’s top plastic surgeons and an accredited private hospital will place you in good hands should something not go to plan.
For more information contact the clinic on 1300 264 811
Patient Information from Dr Patrick Briggs
Pre Op Journey
Post Op Journey
Recovery After Surgery
Choosing a Plastic Surgeon