When to seek medical help for tummy tuck complications

When to seek medical help for tummy tuck complications

10th Jun 2017


One surefire way to get a flat abdomen is to go through a tummy tuck surgery. A tummy tuck, also known as abdominoplasty, is a surgical procedure that will remove the excess skin and fat on your belly. It can also help mend abdominal muscles that have been separated by excessive weight gain or pregnancy. This is a surgery for those who have already lost a lot of weight and for women who are already done with pregnancy. Prospective clients can choose between a complete tummy tuck and a mini tummy tuck.

Like any other kind of surgery, this plastic surgery also has associated complications. Such hazards include infection, bleeding, scarring, seroma, wound separation, tissue necrosis, and clot formation. Patients who intend to undergo the tummy tuck procedure should know of these complications before the surgery is scheduled.

Patients should return for a consultation with their surgeon every so often and they should exercise prudence by alerting their physicians if they notice or feel anything unusual. No matter how insignificant they may seem, it would be best to discuss any concerns with the surgeon to ensure that the patient is not experiencing any complications.

Patients should always keep a watchful eye on their body. They should immediately call their surgeons when they have episodes of bleeding, pain, fever, dizziness, a cloudy discharge, foul odor coming from the incision or navel, or the popping of a suture. Additionally, patients must go to the emergency room immediately after losing of consciousness or following instances of sudden swelling, blood in urine, stool or spit, blackening of the skin, and fever.

Tummy Tuck Surgery

A tummy tuck is a surgical technique that helps patients to eliminate the excess skin and fat around their abdominal area. Some people go through the procedure for cosmetic purposes while others do it for health reasons. Regardless of motive, this type of surgery is advisable for those who have lost a lot of weight but still retain a lot of stubborn fat and excess skin on their tummy. It is also possible to tighten or repair the abdominal muscles affected by diastasis recti.

Although a tummy tuck can result in a flatter abdomen, it is not meant to correct a protruding abdomen that is brought about by being overweight. Patients should first lose as much weight as they can before they go through this kind of surgery. It is also inadvisable for women who are still open to having a future pregnancy.

The tummy tuck surgery can be performed in two ways. The first is a complete tummy tuck and the other one is a mini abdominoplasty. The complete tummy tuck results in a long hip to hip incision and using this method, the navel can also be moved to a better position. On the other hand, a mini tummy tuck is only used for those who have fat in the area below the navel. Some may opt for a mini tummy tuck plus a liposuction to address the fat located above the navel.

Possible Complications

Although a tummy tuck surgery can improve your overall appearance, there are still some complications that are associated with it. Patients should be well informed about the possible side effects before they decide whether to go through the procedure or not. Although these complications rarely develop, patients should still take the time to read about them so in the event that any one of them occurs, patients can immediately seek treatment or prevent it from becoming worse.

  • Infection: Infection is a complication that can develop not only due to the tummy tuck surgery but with other plastic surgeries as well. It is rare for patients with a tummy tuck procedure to contract an infection especially if the surgery is done by a certified, reliable and experienced surgeon. An infection is treated with antibiotics that can only be prescribed by doctors. Although these rarely happen, severe and untreated cases of infection can be life threatening.
  • Bleeding: It is possible for a patient to experience bleeding due to the surgery. When there is an accumulation of blood, it is imperative that it is drained properly. If much blood is lost in the course of the operation, a blood transfusion may be performed. To lessen the risk of bleeding, aspirin and other anti-inflammatory medication should be avoided during recovery.
  • Scarring: All surgeries will result in a scar but the severity of the scarring depends on the body and genetic makeup of the patient. If huge scars form during recovery, patients can consider a scar revision surgery that will help lessen the size of the scar; however, it does not completely remove the scar.
  • Seroma: A seroma is an accumulation of fluid in an area of the body. The seroma occurs as a result of the damage that the body receives during the surgery. Seromas will usually be reabsorbed by the body on its own, but when they are large enough to cause discomfort, they should be aspirated. Some patients may already have drain tubes attached to them after the surgery to make it easier to remove any seroma that may form after the surgery.


  • Wound Separation: A wound separating or opening up can be very scary for a patient to see. This can occur due to too much tension on the incision site because either too much skin was taken out or because the patient moves and stretches too much. It is also possible for the wound to separate because it is not healing properly due to poor blood supply.
  • Tissue Necrosis: The death of tissues can also result from an insufficient blood flow to the surgical area. With this complication, there is a need to immediately remove the necrotic tissue because it will only infect healthy cells. Smokers are more at risk for this complication because there is not enough oxygen in their body and they usually have poorer circulation.
  • Clot Formation: It is possible for a clot to form if the patient is completely sedentary during recovery. Although it may be challenging, patients should make sure they walk around to ensure proper circulation. An individual with reduced blood flow has a greater tendency for clot formation which this may lodge in different areas of the body.

When To Call Your Surgeon

The complications that are not promptly corrected with surgery can ultimately lead to death and that is why it is important to seek medical help as soon as you think something is wrong. Your doctors are just a call away, and their expertise can give you greater peace of mind.

When you experience bleeding, your surgeon should be immediately informed. You may only be seeing a small amount of bleeding from the outside but you should never overlook the possibility of internal bleeding. Some may feel dizziness or numbness of the arms and legs along with the bleeding.

A foul odor from the incision or navel area, a cloudy discharge, uncontrollable pain, fever, and the popping of a suture can all be signs of an infection. You should also call your surgeon as soon as you see or feel any of these. The surgeon will prescribe an antibiotic so that your infection can be treated without delay.

Incidents such as losing consciousness, having convulsions, blackening of the skin, fever, sudden swelling and finding blood in your urine are already emergency or urgent situations and going to the nearest hospital is the best thing to do. These can be life-threatening situations and you shouldn’t wait until your next clinic appointment.

In case you encounter a complication during your recovery, it is important to stay calm and not panic. Make sure that you have the emergency number of your surgeon or another health professional whom you can immediately contact. In case you are going to the emergency room, make sure to inform your surgeon which hospital it is and to bring all the medications that were prescribed to you. With your presence of mind and calm demeanor, you can inform the emergency room doctors about what they need to know so that they can decide on the best course of action.


The plastic surgery technique that will help patients achieve a flatter abdomen is known as the tummy tuck. This cosmetic procedure is available for both men and women. It involves the removal of all the excess skin and fat tissue in the abdominal area as a result of a significant weight loss. Those who have experienced abdominal muscle separation can also have them repaired through this procedure.

The tummy tuck surgery also comes with possible complications that can develop after the operation. Although they occur very rarely, the probability still exists and that is why patients need to stay vigilant. Among the possible complications that may arise from the procedure are infections, bleeding, scarring, seroma, wound separation, tissue necrosis, and clot formation.

Whenever you feel like something is wrong with your body, it is important to call up your surgeon. Things to watch out for include bleeding, numbness, dizziness, redness of incision, uncontrolled pain, fever, pus or discharge and a foul odor from the abdominal area. A trip to the emergency room should be taken if you experience fever, blackening of the skin, loss of consciousness, sudden swelling, blood in stool, urine or spit, or convulsions. These need the immediate attention of doctors and these conditions are life threatening. Although it can be alarming to suffer through complications, staying calm and knowing what to do greatly helps to make sure that the complications will be immediately treated and contained.


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