What could go wrong during a tummy tuck

What could go wrong during a tummy tuck

08th Feb 2018

Before making the decision to undergo a plastic surgery procedure, many patients are interested to know the risks and complications. Plastic surgery offers many benefits, and this is the reason why the industry is on a rising trend year after year. The tummy tuck surgery in particular can completely change the appearance of the patient by tightening the abdominal muscles and creating a flatter and smoother tummy. However, being a major plastic surgery intervention, it comes with potential risks that patients should know well in advance.

More details about the tummy tuck surgery

Abdominoplasty is the plastic surgery procedure that removes excess skin and adipose tissue from the abdomen. The remodeling of the abdominal contour can be done using different surgical techniques. If the patient is confronted with an excess of adipose tissue on the tummy and no skin sagginess, the imperfection can be corrected with the help of liposuction alone. Liposuction is a less invasive procedure used to remove fat from certain areas of the body. However, liposuction can only be used if the patient has no sagging skin and a good skin elasticity.

If the patient presents skin sagginess or a so-called “abdominal apron” (commonly developed after multiple pregnancies), a tummy tuck is the optimal treatment plan to remove the excess skin as well as the fat tissue. For some patients, there is a need to combine the procedures (liposuction and tummy tuck) to achieve superior results after the intervention.

Abdominoplasty is not and should never be used as a treatment for obesity. When a patient is obese, this means that the fat has accumulated all over the body, including the abdominal cavity and around the internal organs. Tummy tuck and liposuction can only target subcutaneous fat, so the fat stored inside the body will still be there after the procedures are performed.

In the case of patients with a relatively normal weight, the results of the tummy tuck are more or less permanent. This is because the results can be severely impacted by significant weight fluctuations. This is the reason why prospective patients are always asked if they plan to lose more weight in the future or are planning another pregnancy.

The tummy tuck is a procedure recommended for adult patients that are in good health, with a weight close to normal. The best candidates for this intervention are:

– People that have no severe or chronic health conditions that can influence the healing process;

– People who don’t smoke or who are willing to stop smoking for at least four weeks before and after the surgery;

– People who are pleased with their body image but would like an improvement in the abdominal area.

Because the tummy tuck is an elective surgery, it is usually performed on patients who have a good health condition. This doesn’t mean that you are not eligible for the procedure if you are confronted with certain afflictions, but the plastic surgeon must be fully aware of your health issues before undergoing surgery. When the surgeon doesn’t have all the information about the patient’s condition, there are many things that can go wrong during a tummy tuck, starting with allergic reactions to the anesthetic, excessive bleeding, and even death.

When the plastic surgeon knows exactly what to expect, he will pay special attention to patients suffering from diabetes, arterial hypertension, cardiac diseases, as well as patients who have suffered an anterior intervention in the abdominal area before the tummy tuck. For patients who have had a C-section before, the plastic surgeon will perform the incision for the abdominoplasty on the scar left by the C-section.

Complications during and after a tummy tuck

Abdominoplasty is particular and performed differently on each patient, taking into consideration the following aspects:

– The amount of excess fat on the abdominal wall;

– The “belly apron”;

– The condition of the abdominal muscles.

Many patients to get rid of the stretch marks during the tummy tuck intervention. It is important to know that while the surgeon can remove some of them (the ones positioned in the areas that will be excised), they will most likely remain if the stretch marks are predominantly on the upper part of the abdomen.

Nowadays there is a wide variety of tummy tuck techniques, mostly depending on the amount of correction necessary to provide optimal results. The length and form of the incision vary depending on the amount of skin and adipose tissue that need to be removed and also on the surgical technique used.

The potential risks of abdominoplasty include fluid and blood accumulation at the incision sites (hematoma and seroma), infections, or vicious healing.

However, the main complication that can occur during the tummy tuck intervention is bleeding. A responsible and experienced plastic surgeon will ask you to undergo blood tests before the surgery to get information about blood coagulation. At the same time, the plastic surgeon will provide you with pre-operative indications that will reduce the risk of bleeding. This includes not taking any anti-inflammatory medication, birth control pills or any type of natural supplements and herbal infusions for at least four weeks before and after the procedure.

Because the tummy tuck is an intervention usually performed under general anesthetic, there is also the risk of having an allergic reaction to the anesthesia. The latest developments in medicine have reduced this risk tremendously over the last few years. However, there is still a chance for this to occur. If you know you are allergic to certain medications, let your surgeon know about this during the initial consultation.

If the tummy tuck is performed in a safe and accredited medical facility and by a board-certified plastic surgeon, the risk of something going wrong during the procedure is significantly reduced. But if you choose to have your surgery played out in unsafe conditions, and by practitioners that are not recognized by a medical board or institution, the complications can be life-threatening.

After the tummy tuck surgery

Once the procedure is done, the incision is bandaged, and an elastic girdle will be placed to reduce the edema and to give support to the abdominal wall. The patient will be requested to wear the girdle nonstop for at least a few weeks following the surgery. It is important to follow this recommendation, otherwise the results might be not up to your expectations and the recovery process can take much longer.

Inflammation and bruising, as well as discomfort, are natural side effects that can be experienced by patients during the initial stage of the recovery process. The plastic surgeon will advise you to start moving as soon as possible to avoid complications such as blood clots, but to avoid movements that put tension on the abdominal muscles for at least a few days and even weeks after the procedure. Resuming easy physical exercises and daily chores are possible within a few days from the intervention.

The initial healing of the incision takes one or two weeks, after which the surgeon will check the sutures. However, the healing process will continue over the following weeks and months. During this time, the swelling will subside along with the bruising. The scar takes longer to mature and heal fully, taking up to nine months or a year.


The results of the tummy tuck are visible almost immediately after the procedure, and in most cases it is impressive. The sagginess is gone, the abdominal muscles are strengthened, and the patient has a flatter tummy and an improved profile. However, you can fully benefit from the optimal results of a tummy tuck only if your intervention is performed by a certified plastic surgeon in an accredited medical facility. Otherwise, there are plenty of things that can go wrong during and after the procedure.

To avoid complications during the intervention such as excessive bleeding, the plastic surgeon will ask you to undergo blood coagulation tests and to stop taking any medication (especially anti-inflammatory, birth control pills and natural supplements) for at least a month before the date of the surgery.

The allergic reaction to anesthesia occurs only in rare cases nowadays due to the improvements and developments in modern medicine. However, it is still a risk and a possibility. Make sure to let your plastic surgeon know if you are allergic to any medications.

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