Risks and Complications of
Cosmetic Surgery

Risks and Complications of
Cosmetic Surgery

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Every surgery has its own set of general and specific risks. While your surgeon and the surgical team will make every possible effort to minimize these risks, problems can still occur. Ultimately, understanding and accepting these risks are an important part of the decision making to undertake any form of surgery, whether cosmetic or reconstructive.

General risks

Some of the general risks that applies to any surgical procedure may include, but not limited to, the following:
Infection: Any surgical procedure carries a risk of infection. Although rare, infections can occur in the incision site or deeper tissues. Proper preoperative and postoperative care, including antibiotic prophylaxis when appropriate, can help minimize this risk.
Bleeding: Excessive bleeding during or after surgery is a potential complication. Specialist Plastic Surgeons take precautions to meticulously control bleeding during the procedure, but in some cases, additional interventions may be necessary to address postoperative bleeding.

Hematoma: A hematoma is a pocket of blood that forms under the skin, often caused by bleeding during surgery. It can result in swelling, pain, and bruising. If significant, a hematoma may require surgical drainage.

Seroma: Similar to a hematoma, a seroma is a collection of fluid (serum) that can accumulate under the skin after surgery. It may require drainage to promote healing and prevent complications.

Poor wound healing: Some individuals may experience delayed or poor wound healing, which can lead to wound dehiscence (opening of the incision) or wound infections. Factors like smoking, poor nutrition, diabetes, or certain medications can increase the risk of these complications.

Scarring: Incisions made during surgery will result in scars. While efforts are made to minimize scarring and place incisions strategically, the extent and visibility of scars can vary depending on the procedure and individual genetic factors. Sometimes, abnormal scar processes including hypertrophic or keloid scarring can occur despite every effort on the part of the surgeon and the patient.

Anesthesia related risks: General anesthesia, sedation, and local anesthesia carries its own risks. In a hospital setting, your anaesthetic will be administered by a specialist anaesthetist. They will consult with you prior to the procedure about the effects and risks associated with the anaesthetic.

Injury to nearby structures: Surgery may lead to injury of surrounding tissue such as blood vessel, nerves and nearby organs.

Prolonged recovery: while every effort is made to ensure a realistic time frame for recovery is conveyed to patients prior to the operation, significant individual variations do occur in the timing and extent of recovery relating to function and cosmesis. These variations are often unpredictable, and may lead to delays in returning to work, social activities, travel, events, and other activities.

Unsatisfactory results: Despite a surgeon's best efforts, surgery may not always achieve the desired aesthetic results. Dissatisfaction with the outcome, asymmetry, contour differences, under- or over-correction, or unexpected cosmetic results can occur. This may necessitating revision surgery or additional treatments.

Financial risks: there may be additional fees applicable as part of the surgical procedure including, but not limited to, fees charged by other health care providers involved in your care such as doctors, allied health professionals, health funds, clinics or hospitals, etc. A separate informed financial consent will be provided to you prior to finalizing your surgery.

Death: While extremely rare, death is a potential risk associated with any surgical procedure, including cosmetic surgery. Factors such as underlying health conditions, anesthesia complications, unforeseen reactions, or surgical complications can contribute to this risk. Surgeons and surgical teams take extensive measures to prioritize patient safety, and preoperative evaluations and medical history assessments are conducted to minimize the risk of adverse events.

Specific risks

In addition to general risks, there are risks which may be specific to the surgical procedure you are undertaking. These will be discussed and highlighted to you during the course of your consultation.

It is important that you feel that you have had sufficient time to ask questions and understand the nature of the risks involved. Please feel free to raise any questions or concerns you may have at any time with the surgeon or surgical team.
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