What are Tummy Tuck Risks and Complications?
More often than not, cosmetic surgery procedures go smoothly, the patient recovers well, and everything goes the way it should. However, despite the precautions surgical staff and clinics take to prevent complications, they do sometimes happen. So as with any surgery, tummy tuck surgery comes with certain risks. It's also possible to develop complications during or after surgery. Before you have any surgical procedure, it's important to educate yourself about these potential risks.
If, after reading this information, you still have questions, please feel free to schedule a consultation so we can discuss the procedure with you, and provide you with all the information you need to make an educated decision.
Tummy Tuck Risks and Complications: Medical
Your safety is the number one priority at TCC. We take every precaution possible to ensure our state-of-the-art clinic provides you not only with comfort, but security in the knowledge that your procedure is being performed in a sterile and technologically advanced environment.
However, even with the greatest of care, complications can still sometimes arise either during or after any type of surgery. Medical complications of a tummy tuck include, but are not limited to:
Deep Venous Thrombosis (DVT)
After your tummy tuck, it's important to get as much rest as possible. However, you must also keep your legs mobile to help prevent blood clots from forming, especially if you're prone to them. This can become a medical emergency if any part of a blood clot in your leg breaks free, and travels to your lungs. This is called a pulmonary embolism, and although it's rare, it can be fatal.
To avoid DVT, try to walk slowly for 10 to 20 minutes every day after your surgery. Also, while lying down, you can bend your knees and rotate your ankles to keep blood flow steady. If you notice a reddish, warm spot on your leg, this could be a sign of a blood clot, and you must contact us immediately.
Skin needs a constant blood flow in order to receive oxygen and remain healthy. During abdominoplasty, the excess skin is detached from the muscle layer in order to be removed, and so your surgeon can tighten your abdominal muscles. This can sometimes interrupt blood flow, which may cause the skin near the incision site to die. Necrosis is the death of tissue, caused by the lack of oxygen and health-giving blood. If you smoke, you're more susceptible to risk of necrosis due to poor oxygen supply in your blood to be begin with.
The signs of necrosis are a bluish tinge to the skin which progresses to black with some blistering and a foul odor. Necrosis is a very rare complication, but if you notice any of these warning signs, contact us immediately.
To prevent infection during your tummy tuck recovery, your surgeon will prescribe antibiotics after your surgery. Infection usually occurs when the patient fails to take those antibiotics as directed, and/or doesn't keep the incision site clean. The best way to prevent infection is to follow your doctor's instructions to the letter.
After your surgery, fluid will begin to accumulate in the incision area. This is part of the body's attempt to heal itself. However, because of the extent of tummy tuck surgery, the amount of fluid produced is too great for the body to absorb. As a result, the fluid will begin to collect under your skin. This is known as a seroma.
To prevent this from happening, drainage tubes will be placed in your incision to release and collect this fluid. If, for some reason, you still develop a seroma, your surgeon will remove it by using a syringe to extract the excess fluid.
Because the nerves are cut and manipulated during surgery, you will experience a loss of sensation near the incision, possibly for several months. It takes time for your nerves to regenerate. In some rare cases, this nerve damage can be permanent.
In order to avoid these tummy tuck risks and complications, be sure to carefully follow the post-operative instructions we'll provide to you, and any other recommendations your surgeon gives you.
Tummy Tuck Risks and Complications: Aesthetic
Some complications that may occur are not life-threatening, and don't require medical attention, but instead affect the cosmetic results of your tummy tuck. Possible aesthetic complications of tummy tuck surgery include, but are not limited to:
Poor Scar Formation
You will have post-tummy tuck scars, there's no way to avoid that regardless of the procedure. However, there is risk that you may develop a keloid or a severe hypertrophic scar. Some people of certain ethnicities are more prone to developing keloid scars, something the surgeon will discuss with you before your tummy tuck procedure.
In addition, if you're a smoker or use other substances containing nicotine, either before or directly after surgery, you could be prone to delayed wound healing. This could lead to an uneven, more pronounced scar. It's best to avoid those substances well before and after your surgery, until you're completely healed, although it's best to give up smoking altogether, if possible.
Skin Sagging or Rippling
Because part of the tummy tuck procedure is to remove excess skin, leaving the remaining skin taut, this is a rare complication. In fact, the most likely scenario for this to occur is if you don't use your post-tummy tuck wear.
One of the primary purposes of the abdominal binder and compression garments is to keep your skin in place as your incision heals, and prevent sagging, indentations, or rippling, so be sure to follow your doctor's instructions, and wear these items as directed.