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The Risks
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All surgery involves risks and complications. And obviously, the more serious the cosmetic surgery, the more serious the possibility of risks. Serious risks such as death and serious infection are rare in cosmetic surgery (although they are there). Slight risks such as scarring and improper healing are more common. Because there is such a variety of cosmetic procedures and surgeries available to you, the specific risks vary. Your healthcare provider will be able to discuss specific health risks with you. You should also talk to your cosmetic surgeon about the risks of any procedures you are undergoing. The biggest risk you take when undergoing cosmetic surgery is the risk that your results will not be as desired.

  • In invasive procedures such as the tummy tuck or breast implant, you run the risk of blood clotting, infection, internal bleeding, poor healing and scarring. Breast implants carry with them more risks including deflation of the implant, desensitization of the nipple and hardness or tightness of the breast. Many times the complications after a surgery will require a second surgery or even more.
  • Blood clotting in the abdomen and legs is a common risk associated with cosmetic surgery that may lead to a pulmonary embolism, or a blocked lung artery.
  • With collagen injections, you run the risk of allergic reactions, developing a rash, infected connective tissue and auto-immune disease. Many patients who have undergone cosmetic surgery run the risk of developing auto-immune diseases or problems with the immune system.
  • Dermatological cosmetic surgery will possibly affect the color of the skin permanently, causing blotchiness and splotches.
  • Facial surgeries run the risk of damaging sensation in the face, perhaps causing permanent inability to sense feeling; as well as scarring, poor healing and hair problems.
  • Liposuction could cause rippling or “bagginess” of the skin, changes in the coloring of the skin, fluid retention, shock because of excessive fluid loss and infection.
  • Rhinoplasties could cause infection, burst blood vessels that cause small permanent red spots, and additional surgery to fix irregularities or, in rare cases, failed procedures.
  • You’ll probably be under anesthesia during your procedure, which brings with it many risks as well, including harmful interaction with other medications and dosage problems. Make sure you have a licensed and experienced anesthesiologist in addition to a plastic surgeon.

To maximize the safety of your procedure, make sure your surgeon is board-certified and that the facility complies to safety standards. Your surgeon should be familiar with extensive information about your medical condition and your medical history. Certain factors may increase the risk of blood clots, such as oral contraceptive use, hormone replacement therapy, overweight, recent trauma and certain pre-existing conditions or disorders. Because blood clotting is a common risk associated with cosmetic surgery procedures, it’s important that your surgeon takes the appropriate measures to prevent blood clotting if you are particularly prone. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) and the American Board of Plastic Surgery have worked together to make cosmetic surgery a safer, more risk-free, field. Contact these organizations if you have any questions about the risk of a procedure, the safety of a facility or the experience of a surgeon.

Because cosmetic surgery is elective, you have the unique opportunity to consider risks in making your decision to get surgery. Many surgeries are required for proper health. In the case of cosmetic surgery, it’s important to remember that you are empowered to make any decisions for your own health, and in so doing you carry the responsibility of considering all of the risks. Most of the risks listed above are permanent, and cannot be erased after the surgery.