Are you thinking about getting a tummy tuck to improve the appearance of your abdomen? A tummy tuck, also known as abdominoplasty, is a cosmetic procedure that removes excess skin and fat from the lower and middle abdomen and tightens the underlying muscles. The result is a flatter, firmer, and more contoured abdomen that looks more youthful and proportionate to your body.

A tummy tuck can help you achieve your desired look and boost your confidence, but it is not a risk-free procedure. Like any surgery, a tummy tuck involves some potential risks and complications that you should be aware of before making your decision. In this article, we will discuss the common and less common risks and complications of tummy tuck, the factors that affect them, and how to prevent or minimize them. We will also encourage you to schedule a consultation with Dr. Kenton Schoonover, a board-certified plastic surgeon who specializes in tummy tuck procedures at Kansas Plastic Surgery.

Common Risks and Complications of Tummy Tuck

Some of the common risks and complications of tummy tuck are:

Infection

Infection is a possible complication of any surgery, especially when the surgery involves large incisions and tissue removal. Infection can occur at the site of the incision, under the skin flap, or in the abdominal cavity. Infection can cause symptoms such as fever, chills, redness, swelling, pain, pus, and foul odor. Infection can also delay wound healing and increase scarring.

To prevent infection, you should follow your surgeon’s instructions on wound care, hygiene, and antibiotic use. You should also avoid smoking, drinking, and taking anti-inflammatory drugs, as they can impair your immune system and blood circulation. You should also report any signs of infection to your surgeon as soon as possible, as early treatment can prevent serious complications.

Hematoma

A hematoma is a collection of blood under the skin or in the abdominal cavity that can occur after a tummy tuck. Hematoma can cause symptoms such as bruising, swelling, pain, and pressure. Hematoma can also increase the risk of infection and skin necrosis.

To prevent hematoma, you should avoid strenuous activities, heavy lifting, and bending for at least 6 weeks after your tummy tuck. You should also wear a compression garment for 4 to 6 weeks to reduce swelling and bleeding. You should also report any signs of hematoma to your surgeon as soon as possible, as some cases may require drainage or surgery.

Seroma

Seroma is a collection of fluid under the skin or in the abdominal cavity that can occur after a tummy tuck. Seroma can cause symptoms such as swelling, pain, and bulging. Seroma can also increase the risk of infection and skin necrosis.

To prevent seroma, you should avoid strenuous activities, heavy lifting, and bending for at least 6 weeks after your tummy tuck. You should also wear a compression garment for 4 to 6 weeks to reduce swelling and fluid accumulation. You should also report any signs of seroma to your surgeon as soon as possible, as some cases may require drainage or surgery.

Poor Wound Healing

Poor wound healing is a possible complication of any surgery, especially when the surgery involves large incisions and tissue removal. Poor wound healing can cause symptoms such as delayed closure, separation, dehiscence, or necrosis of the wound. Poor wound healing can also increase scarring and infection.

To promote wound healing, you should follow your surgeon’s instructions on wound care, hygiene, and dressing changes. You should also avoid smoking, drinking, and taking anti-inflammatory drugs, as they can impair your blood circulation and tissue regeneration. You should also eat a balanced diet that provides your body with the nutrients it needs to heal faster and better. You should also report any signs of poor wound healing to your surgeon as soon as possible, as some cases may require additional treatment or surgery.

Scarring

Scarring is an inevitable consequence of any surgery, especially when the surgery involves large incisions and tissue removal. Scarring can cause symptoms such as redness, itchiness, tightness, and irregularity of the skin. Scarring can also affect your appearance and self-esteem.

To minimize scarring, you should follow your surgeon’s instructions on wound care, hygiene, and dressing changes. You should also avoid sun exposure, smoking, drinking, and taking anti-inflammatory drugs, as they can impair your skin healing and increase pigmentation. You should also apply silicone gel or sheets, massage therapy, or laser treatment, as recommended by your surgeon, to improve the appearance and texture of your scars. You should also be patient and realistic, as scars can take up to a year or more to fade and mature.

Changes in Skin Sensation

Changes in skin sensation are a possible complication of any surgery, especially when the surgery involves large incisions and tissue removal. Changes in skin sensation can cause symptoms such as numbness, tingling, burning, or hypersensitivity of the skin. Changes in skin sensation can also affect your comfort and pleasure.

To cope with changes in skin sensation, you should follow your surgeon’s instructions on wound care, hygiene, and dressing changes. You should also avoid sun exposure, smoking, drinking, and taking anti-inflammatory drugs, as they can impair your nerve function and recovery. You should also massage your skin gently and regularly, as recommended by your surgeon, to stimulate blood flow and nerve regeneration. You should also be patient and optimistic, as changes in skin sensation can improve over time and may even return to normal.

Asymmetry

Asymmetry is a possible complication of any surgery, especially when the surgery involves large incisions and tissue removal. Asymmetry can cause symptoms such as unevenness, disproportion, or misalignment of the abdomen or the navel. Asymmetry can also affect your appearance and satisfaction.

To prevent asymmetry, you should choose a qualified and experienced plastic surgeon who can perform the tummy tuck with precision and skill. You should also follow your surgeon’s instructions on post-operative care and follow-up. You should also avoid strenuous activities, heavy lifting, and bending for at least 6 weeks after your tummy tuck, as they can cause swelling and distortion of the abdomen. You should also report any signs of asymmetry to your surgeon as soon as possible, as some cases may require revision surgery.

Fluid Accumulation

Fluid accumulation is a possible complication of any surgery, especially when the surgery involves large incisions and tissue removal. Fluid accumulation can cause symptoms such as swelling, pain, and pressure. Fluid accumulation can also increase the risk of infection and skin necrosis.

To prevent fluid accumulation, you should avoid strenuous activities, heavy lifting, and bending for at least 6 weeks after your tummy tuck. You should also wear a compression garment for 4 to 6 weeks to reduce swelling and fluid accumulation. You should also report any signs of fluid accumulation to your surgeon as soon as possible, as some cases may require drainage or surgery.

Blood Clots

Blood clots are a possible complication of any surgery, especially when the surgery involves large incisions and tissue removal. Blood clots can form in the legs or the lungs and cause symptoms such as pain, swelling, redness, warmth, or shortness of breath. Blood clots can also be life-threatening if they travel to the heart or the brain.

To prevent blood clots, you should follow your surgeon’s instructions on wound care, hygiene, and anticoagulant use. You should also avoid smoking, drinking, and taking anti-inflammatory drugs, as they can impair your blood clotting and circulation. You should also move your legs and feet regularly and wear compression stockings, as recommended by your surgeon, to improve blood flow and prevent stasis. You should also report any signs of blood clots to your surgeon or emergency services as soon as possible, as early treatment can prevent serious complications.

Anesthesia Risks

Anesthesia risks are a possible complication of any surgery, especially when the surgery involves general anesthesia. Anesthesia risks can cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, headache, drowsiness, or allergic reactions. Anesthesia risks can also cause complications such as low blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, difficulty breathing, or nerve damage.

To minimize anesthesia risks, you should follow your surgeon’s instructions on pre-operative preparation and post-operative care. You should also inform your surgeon and anesthesiologist of any medical conditions, medications, allergies, or previous anesthesia experiences that you have. You should also avoid eating, drinking, smoking, or taking any drugs for at least 8 hours before your surgery. You should also have someone to drive you home and stay with you for at least 24 hours after your surgery.

Less Common Risks and Complications of Tummy Tuck

Some of the less common risks and complications of tummy tuck are:

Skin Discoloration

Skin discoloration is a possible complication of any surgery, especially when the surgery involves large incisions and tissue removal. Skin discoloration can cause symptoms such as darkening, lightening, or blotchiness of the skin. Skin discoloration can also affect your appearance and self-esteem.

To prevent skin discoloration, you should follow your surgeon’s instructions on wound care, hygiene, and dressing changes. You should also avoid sun exposure, smoking, drinking, and taking anti-inflammatory drugs, as they can impair your skin healing and increase pigmentation. You should also apply sunscreen, moisturizer, and scar cream, as recommended by your surgeon, to protect and nourish your skin. You should also be patient and optimistic, as skin discoloration can fade over time and may even disappear completely.

Fat Necrosis

Fat necrosis is a possible complication of any surgery, especially when the surgery involves large incisions and tissue removal. Fat necrosis is the death of fat cells due to lack of blood supply or infection. Fat necrosis can cause symptoms such as lumps, bumps, or dimples in the skin. Fat necrosis can also affect your appearance and satisfaction.

To prevent fat necrosis, you should follow your surgeon’s instructions on wound care, hygiene, and antibiotic use. You should also avoid smoking, drinking, and taking anti-inflammatory drugs, as they can impair your blood circulation and tissue regeneration. You should also massage your skin gently and regularly, as recommended by your surgeon, to stimulate blood flow and fat redistribution. You should also report any signs of fat necrosis to your surgeon as soon as possible, as some cases may require additional treatment or surgery.

Nerve Damage

Nerve damage is a possible complication of any surgery, especially when the surgery involves large incisions and tissue removal. Nerve damage can cause symptoms such as numbness, tingling, burning, or weakness of the skin or muscles. Nerve damage can also affect your comfort and function.

To prevent nerve damage, you should follow your surgeon’s instructions on wound care, hygiene, and dressing changes. You should also avoid smoking, drinking, and taking anti-inflammatory drugs, as they can impair your nerve function and recovery. You should also massage your skin gently and regularly, as recommended by your surgeon, to stimulate nerve regeneration and sensation. You should also be patient and hopeful, as nerve damage can improve over time and may even return to normal.

Deep Vein Thrombosis

Deep vein thrombosis is a possible complication of any surgery, especially when the surgery involves large incisions and tissue removal. Deep vein thrombosis is the formation of a blood clot in a deep vein, usually in the legs or pelvis. Deep vein thrombosis can cause symptoms such as pain, swelling, redness, warmth, or tenderness in the affected area. Deep vein thrombosis can also be life-threatening if the clot breaks off and travels to the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism.

To prevent deep vein thrombosis, you should follow your surgeon’s instructions on wound care, hygiene, and anticoagulant use. You should also avoid smoking, drinking, and taking anti-inflammatory drugs, as they can impair your blood clotting and circulation. You should also move your legs and feet regularly and wear compression stockings, as recommended by your surgeon, to improve blood flow and prevent stasis. You should also report any signs of deep vein thrombosis to your surgeon or emergency services as soon as possible, as early treatment can prevent serious complications.

Cardiac and Pulmonary Complications

Cardiac and pulmonary complications are possible complications of any surgery, especially when the surgery involves general anesthesia. Cardiac and pulmonary complications can cause symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, palpitations, coughing, or wheezing. Cardiac and pulmonary complications can also be life-threatening if they affect the heart or the lungs.

To prevent cardiac and pulmonary complications, you should follow your surgeon’s instructions on pre-operative preparation and post-operative care. You should also inform your surgeon and anesthesiologist of any medical conditions, medications, allergies, or previous anesthesia experiences that you have. You should also avoid eating, drinking, smoking, or taking any drugs for at least 8 hours before your surgery. You should also have someone to drive you home and stay with you for at least 24 hours after your surgery. You should also report any signs of cardiac and pulmonary complications to your surgeon or emergency services as soon as possible, as early treatment can prevent serious complications.

Persistent Pain

Persistent pain is a possible complication of any surgery, especially when the surgery involves large incisions and tissue removal. Persistent pain can cause symptoms such as discomfort, soreness, or stiffness in the abdomen or the incision site. Persistent pain can also affect your quality of life and satisfaction.

To manage persistent pain, you should follow your surgeon’s instructions on wound care, hygiene, and pain medication use. You should also avoid smoking, drinking, and taking anti-inflammatory drugs, as they can impair your pain relief and healing process. You should also massage your skin gently and regularly, as recommended by your surgeon, to ease pain and tension. You should also report any signs of persistent pain to your surgeon as soon as possible, as some cases may require additional treatment or surgery.

Revision Surgery

Revision surgery is a possible complication of any surgery, especially when the surgery involves large incisions and tissue removal. Revision surgery is a secondary surgery that is performed to correct or improve the results of the primary surgery. Revision surgery can be necessary or desired due to various reasons, such as infection, hematoma, seroma, poor wound healing, scarring, changes in skin sensation, asymmetry, fluid accumulation, blood clots, anesthesia risks, skin discoloration, fat necrosis, nerve damage, deep vein thrombosis, cardiac and pulmonary complications, persistent pain, or dissatisfaction.

To avoid revision surgery, you should choose a qualified and experienced plastic surgeon who can perform the tummy tuck with precision and skill. You should also follow your surgeon’s instructions on post-operative care and follow-up. You should also avoid strenuous activities, heavy lifting, and bending for at least 6 weeks after your tummy tuck, as they can cause swelling and distortion of the abdomen. You should also report any signs of complications or dissatisfaction to your surgeon as soon as possible, as some cases may be resolved with non-surgical treatments or minor adjustments.

Factors Affecting Risks and Complications of Tummy Tuck

The risks and complications of tummy tuck are not the same for everyone. They can vary depending on several factors, such as:

Patient Health and Medical History

Your health and medical history can affect your risks and complications of tummy tuck, as they can influence your healing process and your response to anesthesia. Some of the health and medical conditions that can increase your risks and complications of tummy tuck are:

  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Drinking
  • Drug use
  • Heart disease
  • Lung disease
  • Blood disorders
  • Allergies
  • Previous surgeries
  • Previous infections
  • Previous scars
  • Previous anesthesia experiences

To reduce the risks and complications of tummy tuck, you should inform your surgeon of any health and medical conditions that you have. You should also follow your surgeon’s instructions on pre-operative preparation and post-operative care. You should also improve your health and lifestyle habits, such as quitting smoking, drinking, and drug use, losing weight, controlling your blood sugar, and managing your chronic conditions.

Surgeon Skill and Experience

Your surgeon’s skill and experience can affect your risks and complications of tummy tuck, as they can influence the quality and outcome of your surgery. A skilled and experienced plastic surgeon can perform the tummy tuck with precision and artistry, minimizing the risks and complications and maximizing the results and satisfaction.

To ensure your safety and success, you should choose a qualified and experienced plastic surgeon who specializes in tummy tuck procedures. You should also check your surgeon’s credentials, such as board certification, membership, awards, and recognition. You should also review your surgeon’s before-and-after photos, patient testimonials, and ratings. You should also consult with your surgeon and ask questions about the procedure, the risks, the benefits, and the expectations.

Post-operative care and Follow-Up

Your post-operative care and follow-up can affect your risks and complications of tummy tuck, as they can influence your recovery and healing process. Proper post-operative care and follow-up can help you prevent or minimize the risks and complications and improve the results and satisfaction.

To optimize your post-operative care and follow-up, you should follow your surgeon’s instructions on wound care, hygiene, dressing changes, antibiotic use, pain medication use, anticoagulant use, compression garment use, activity restrictions, and diet and nutrition. You should also attend your scheduled appointments and check-ups with your surgeon and report any signs of complications or dissatisfaction as soon as possible. You should also follow your surgeon’s recommendations on scar care, massage therapy, or laser treatment, as needed.

Ready to Learn More? Consult with Our Expert!

Take the first step towards a flatter, firmer abdomen. Contact us to schedule your personalized tummy tuck consultation with Dr. Kenton Schoonover at Kansas Plastic Surgery.

SCHEDULE CONSULTATION

TL;DR

In this article, we have discussed the potential risks and complications of tummy tuck, a cosmetic procedure that removes excess skin and fat from the lower and middle abdomen and tightens the underlying muscles. We have explained the common and less common risks and complications of tummy tuck, the factors that affect them, and how to prevent or minimize them. We have also encouraged you to consult with a qualified plastic surgeon who can explain the risks and benefits of tummy tuck in detail and help you make an informed decision.

To learn more about tummy tuck procedures, please visit our Tummy Tuck Procedure page and explore the resources we have provided. You can also schedule a consultation with Dr. Schoonover by filling out our online form or calling us at (316) 305-9618. We look forward to hearing from you and helping you achieve your abdominal enhancement goals. Thank you for reading and have a wonderful day. 😊

Request A Consultation!

Call us at (316)305-9618 to schedule an appointment or use our contact form to request more information. Or you can Fax us at (316) 462-9964.