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How Risky Is Plastic Surgery?

Feb 4, 2008
All surgery carries risk, and cosmetic surgery is no exception. But, complications are very rare if the surgery is done by a board-certified cosmetic surgeon. In a study of 400,000 cosmetic operations performed in accredited facilities, complication rates were less than one percent and death occurred only once per 57,000 cases.

The risk of serious complications is comparable to that of other types of surgery. Some conditions can increase the risk of complications. These include being overweight, heart and lung problems, smoking, taking certain medications, or having recently had a traumatic injury.

Some complications are medically significant. During surgery, these include brain damage, aspiration, and heart attack. Brain damage can occur if blood circulation to the brain is compromised. Airway obstruction can occur when the vocal cords spasm, blocking the airway. A sudden drop in blood pressure can occur during surgery, increasing the probability of a heart attack.

With all surgeries involving anesthesia or sedation, there are risks associated with reactions to the drugs used to reduce sensation or consciousness. After surgery, complications related to excessive bleeding, blood clots and infection can occur. Infection rates increase with the duration of surgery, and can be very serious. Blood clots are also more common with longer surgeries, and those involving liposuction of the legs. Their incidence can be reduced by changing positions during recovery and wearing compression garments.

Excessive bleeding after the surgery can result in blood accumulation under the skin. Additional surgery may be required to correct the problem. If sutures don't hold, additional surgery may be necessary to repair hernia and stop internal bleeding. Further complications relate specifically to the outcome of the cosmetic surgery. These include irregularities, asymmetry, seroma, numbness and tingling, and skin death. Irregularities include dimples, puckers, and divots. These can be due to surgeon error or to a person's unique physiology.

Mild asymmetry is to be expected. If it is severe, it can be corrected by additional surgery. Seroma is fluid that collects under the skin after breast augmentation, liposuction, or a tummy tuck. Skin death or necrosis is much more common among smokers. The dead skin can be surgically removed, but this can affect the outcome of the surgery. Slow healing can occur in certain skin types, or when the doctor's instructions aren't followed. Numbness and tingling results when sensory or motor nerves are damaged during the operation. This is usually temporary, but can result in a permanent loss of feeling in the affected area.
About the Author
Ian Spellfield writes about Chicago Plastic Surgery and how to get cheap plastic surgery .
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