Tummy Tuck surgery is like any other plastic surgery carries certain risks and potential for complications. The decision to proceed with abdominoplasty should be made only after thorough consideration is given to treatment options, risks, and potential complications. No matter how expert and skilled your plastic surgeon, even under optimal conditions and with best of intentions, every surgical procedure has certain statistical potential for complications. In light of this reality, please review the following information about risks of Tummy tuck surgery, and ask all your questions from your Plastic Surgeon to your satisfaction, before proceeding with an abdominoplasty.
Scars- The trade off for your flatter and tighter abdomen will be surgical scars that are permanent. While no plastic surgeon, however skilled, can perform cosmetic surgery without scars, scars do usually fade with time, taking up to 18 months. Some people are genetically predisposed to bad scarring, or even formation of keloids or hypertrophic scars. While it is generally perceived that only dark-skinned people develop Keloids, the fact is that light-skinned people and people from all ethnic backgrounds can develop Keloids, hypertrophic, or “bad scars”. Dr. Younai, and/or his staff review the place of Tummy Tuck or Body Lift scars with every patient prior to surgery, in order to place them in a location that can be better hidden by bathing suits or underwear.
Bleeding- It is possible, though uncommon, to experience some bleeding during or after cosmetic surgery. Should excessive bleeding occur, it might require a blood transfusion, or even emergency surgery. But most commonly, localized small amounts of blood collected under the skin (hematoma) can be easily treated through aspiration or the placement of a drain. Dr. Younai, like majority of other plastic surgeons, routinely uses drains that help remove any excess fluid or blood collection.
To reduce the chance and risk of bleeding with surgery, you must not take any blood thinners, such as aspirin, anti-inflammatory, or vitamin E for 10 days prior and after your surgery.
Infection- There is a very small chance of developing infection after any surgery. You will be given antibiotics during your surgery and be given a prescription for antibiotics to take after your surgery, in order to reduce the risk of infection.
Pain- While people have varying thresholds for pain, it is an expected result from any surgery. This can be addressed through a prescribed medication from your cosmetic surgeon. Nevertheless, you should be aware that although pain medications do help reduce the degree of pain and make it more tolerable, there is no pain medication that will completely eliminate pain.
Nausea. Anesthetics, narcotics, and antibiotics do cause nausea. You will be prescribed an anti-nausea medication, both just-before, during, and after your surgery. Taking your medications with food helps to reduce the incidence and degree of post-operative nausea.
Persistent Swelling & Bruising. It is normal for skin of the abdomen, navel, genitalia, buttocks, and thighs to become inflamed, swollen, and bruised following the surgery, and to remain so for some weeks. In rare cases, this can persist for many months or can even be permanent if patient has poor circulation. To minimize swelling and bruising after surgery patients are required to wear a support garment 24 hours a day for three weeks, and then only during the daytime for the following three weeks. Massaging these areas as much as three to four times a day is also very helpful. It is normally expected for the skin to become dry and itchy after surgery. Massaging with heavy lotion and skin moisturizer is essential. You do not need expensive creams to do so – Vaseline, Vitamin E, or any kind of greasy lotion will do. It’s the grease that does the trick! It is good, when possible, to have your spouse or significant other to perform the massage. This helps to accustom a couple to your new look, and to reduce any trepidation that you may both be feeling.
Change in Skin Sensation- The area of abdomen, pubic area, flanks, and parts of the thighs do become numb, after this surgery. This usually resolves gradually over three to eight months, but you can have residual permanent loss of sensation or even hyper-sensitivity in some areas.
Itching, tenderness, or exaggerated responses to hot or cold temperatures may occur after Tummy Tuck, Body Lift, or Thigh Lift, but is usually short-lived and can be alleviated by moisturizing, medication, and massage.
Sutures- Most surgical techniques use deep sutures, which might spontaneously poke through the skin, become visible, or produce irritation that might require removal.
Skin Contour Irregularities- Contour and shape irregularities and depressions may occur after a tummy tuck, body lift, or thigh lift. Residual skin irregularities at the ends of the incision or “dog ears” are always possible as is skin pleating when there is excessive redundant skin. These do usually improve with massage over time, but may require surgical correction.
Fat Necrosis- As your tissues heal after surgery, sometime, some of the deeper skin fat might die. Usually, this is of no consequence, but sometimes it might produce areas of firmness or contour irregularities.
Pubic Distortion- One of the benefits of Tummy tuck and Body Lift is the lifting and flattening of the protruding and sagging pubic skin. Rarely, women develop distortion of their labia and pubic area. Usually, this corrects itself, but sometimes corrective surgery is required.
Asymmetry- Most patients have differences between the right and left sides of their body before any surgery is performed, and surgery might not be able to correct that. Therefore, even after a Tummy Tuck or Body Lift, there may not be perfect symmetry in the body’s appearance. Normal asymmetry in body features may be affected by factors such as skin tone, skeletal prominence, fatty deposits, and muscle tone .
Delayed Healing & Wound Separation- Delayed wound healing or wound disruption is possible. Surgical incisions in the buttock, back, or flank may sometimes require weeks to heal. Necrosis in Some areas of the skin may even occur, requiring dressing changes frequently or secondary surgery to remove the non-healed tissue and to close the wounds. Smokers and those with diabetes, multiple medical problems, and severe obesity have a greater risk of skin loss and wound healing complications.
Seroma- Fluid accumulations frequently occur between the skin and the abdominal wall, legs, flanks, back, or buttocks. Dr. Younai, as well as, many other plastic surgeons routinely use drains in these areas in order to remove excess fluid. If you develop seroma, it can easily be drained in the doctor’s office.
Umbilicus- Unacceptable appearance, scars, malpositioning, or umbilicus / belly button loss may occur.
Allergic Reactions- In rare cases, local allergies to tape, suture material and glue, blood products, topical preparations or injected agents have been reported. Serious systemic reactions including shock (anaphylaxis) may occur from drugs used during surgery and prescription medications. Allergic reactions may require additional treatments.
“Blood Clots” (Deep Venous Thrombosis, Cardiac & Pulmonary Complications). Lengthy procedures may be associated with the formation of, or increase in, blood clots in the veins in the legs while you are immobilized, with the risk that they will travel to other parts of your body, including your lungs. Pulmonary embolism can be life threatening or fatal in some circumstances. You can reduce this risk by moving as soon as possible following your surgery. It is important to discuss with your surgeon any past history of blood clots, swollen legs or the use of estrogen or birth control pills that may contribute to this condition. After surgery, if you experience shortness of breath, chest pain, or an irregular heartbeat, notify your doctor and seek medical attention immediately. Treatment of this complication may require hospitalization and additional treatments.
Damage to Deeper Structures- As with any surgery there is a rare potential for injury to deeper structures including, nerves, blood vessels, muscles, and lungs (pneumothorax). Treatment may require further surgery and hospitalization.
Shock– In rare circumstances, your surgical procedure can cause severe trauma, particularly when multiple or extensive procedures are performed. Although serious complications are infrequent, infections or excessive fluid loss can lead to severe illness and even death. If surgical shock occurs, hospitalization and additional treatments would be necessary.
Dr. Sean Younai is a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon with more than 16 years of higher education training, as well as years of private practice specializing in Liposuction and body contouring. During your consultation and/or prior to your surgery, Dr. Younai will review your treatment options for body contouring and Tummy Tuck, including pros and cons, potential risks and complications, recovery course, pre and post operative instructions, and esthetic outcomes. There are also many before-and-after pictures, high resolution images of abdominoplasty available in our photo gallery.
Our center also includes the Regency Surgery Center which is a state-of-the-art outpatient surgery facility certified by Medicare and accredited by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC) and the American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities, Inc., (AAAASF).
Thank you for taking the time to visit our Web site. Our staff is always available to help answer your questions regarding any plastic surgery procedures and financing options, as well as with your travel to our center. Plastic surgery has truly become a way to better ourselves. It allows us to take control of our lives, and to give ourselves the body and look we always wanted, and truly deserve. Why not! We deserve the best.