When performed by a qualified surgeon, tummy tucks are a relatively safe procedure. However, all surgeries carry risks, and abdominoplasty is no different. The following five risks are not the only ones associated with receiving a tummy tuck, but they are the most common. Keep in mind that even these complications are still incredibly rare.
- Anesthesia Complications
Tummy tucks are performed under general anesthesia, and this can pose cardiac risks to certain patients. In extreme cases, an adverse reaction to anesthesia can result in cardiac arrest and death. However, this is not a frequent occurrence. More common but less fatal reactions to anesthesia include irregular blood pressure, nausea, and respiratory problems.
- Blood Clots
Blood clots are a common risk after many types of surgery. The body interprets surgical incisions as injuries and may clot the blood in order to prevent excess bleeding. While this is a perfectly natural response, if a clot stops blood flow through the body’s vessels, this can create circulatory problems, including heart failure in extreme cases. In order to avoid dangerous blood clotting, patients should be honest with their doctors about their medical histories and any medications they take that might promote excess clotting.
Infection at the incision site is another common tummy tuck risk. While some infections occur due to improper sterilization on the doctor’s part, most happen because patients do not appropriately care for their wounds after surgery. Signs of infection include pain at the incision area, excessive fluid draining from the incision, or drainage fluid with a green tint.
- Slow Healing
The recovery process after a tummy tuck will be relatively slow for all patients—normally it takes six to eight weeks for full recovery. However, some patients may take even longer to heal. Unfortunately, slow healing can often result in skin death, which will require grafts and additional surgery. Slow healing is largely out of the control of the patient, but some activities like smoking can increase the risk.
- Prominent Scarring
While scarring does not pose any health risks to patients, it can be unsightly, which is counterproductive to the goals of tummy tuck surgery. Scars that are particularly raised or discolored can be treated with additional surgeries, if necessary.