More risks of plastic surgery

This is the second part of a post on cosmetic plastic surgery complications and risks. I have written on this topic in the past:

Complications of plastic surgery part 1


Damage to deeper structures in plastic surgery

Most cosmetic plastic surgery takes place on the skin and muscles. Damage to deeper structures rarely occurs but can include damage to the nerves or structures inside body cavities. In medical literature, there are reports of entry into the lungs or abdominal cavities during liposuction—obviously not a good thing. Thankfully, these occurrences are rare.

Nerves are commonly bruised and will return to normal within a few days to weeks. The cutting of nerves, causing permanent areas of numbness, is common and expected on areas of the skin where incisions have been made, such as the abdomen after a tummy tuck. It is much more common in cases where the nerves are in a different plane of the body, such as under the facial muscles in a facelift.


Though scarring is a normal response to any injury and part of the way our bodies heal, it can cause complications when normal scarring processes do not occur.

For example, capsular contracture is an abnormal type of scarring that occurs around breast implants, causing deformation of the breasts. Keloid or hypertrophic scars are thickened, painful scars that heal in an abnormal manner and require further treatment. Problems with the healing of wounds can also occur due to decreased blood supply, too much tension on wounds, sutures spitting out or allergies to tapes/sutures.

Clots and emboli

Any surgery and many medical conditions can cause a slowing down of blood circulation. If you add in a lack of activity in days after surgery, the risk for blood clots forming and then breaking off to become emboli that lodge themselves in lungs or other organs becomes greater. Most surgery is performed with the patient’s legs in massage socks and machines to keep circulation going during surgery. Having patients start to walk early on will significantly reduce the risks. In cases at a high risk for these problems, injections of heparin may be necessary before surgery.

Each type of cosmetic plastic surgery will have its own set of complications in addition to the ones above. It is important for patients to understand that complications do occur and that no surgeon can give you a guarantee of the results you will have; a surgeon can only do their best to minimize risks. If a cosmetic plastic surgeon gives you a guarantee of specific results and a lack of complications… run, run away, and never go back!

Morad Tavallali, M.D., FACS