Tummy Tuck Surgery – Specific Complications

Tummy Tuck Surgery – Specific Complications

24th Jun 2017


The Tummy Tuck is a plastic surgery intervention performed with the aim of tightening your abdomen and making it flatter. The surgery can help you obtain a more appealing belly by eliminating the excess sagging skin and surplus fat from your abdominal area, which are both resistant to diet and exercise. The tummy tuck procedure is likewise called abdominoplasty and it is also used to repair lax and injured muscles on your abdominal wall.

For the first few days after the surgery, it is normal for the patients to experience a certain degree of pain, discomfort and swelling. No need to fret as your plastic surgeon will prescribe you with pain medication as well as give post-operative instructions on how to tend to the surgical wound. Some patients experience tenderness and soreness at the surgical site for a few days or weeks following the intervention.

Tummy Tuck Potential Complications

The tummy tuck procedure also has potential hazards, just like any other surgery. There are some complications that occur in rare cases while others are encountered more frequently. The potential complications after a tummy tuck surgery include infections, bleeding, skin necrosis, seroma, bad scarring and even blood clot formation.

Health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, lung issues, and liver disorders increase the risk of developing complications. This is the reason why many plastic surgeons discourage people with these conditions to go under the knife for a tummy tuck or other complex plastic surgery intervention.

Once the tummy tuck surgery is performed, there is a possibility for the wound to keep from healing completely or properly. This issue can easily lead to bad scarring and skin injuries or loss of skin tissue. The tummy tuck procedure will leave permanent scars that tend to fade gradually, but they will never fully disappear. If your plastic surgeon is not pleased with your recovery, it might be necessary to undergo additional surgery.

Keep in mind that the decision to undergo a tummy tuck is something very personal, and you should never do it to please someone else. Taking into account all the possible risks and complications, you should be the one to determine whether you truly want to go through surgery; and it should only be considered as a last resort if you believe that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

Here are the specific complications that may occur after the tummy tuck intervention:


Treating this condition involves the elimination of a substantial quantity of skin and fat tissue from the abdominal area. During the initial surgical intervention, the blood supply to the area might become weak or completely cut off. This circumstance leaves the surrounding tissues with little to no oxygen supply, which eventually leads to the death or necrosis of these tissues. Necrosis is the term used to describe the liquefaction of skin, tissue, fat or muscles as a result of bodily injury during the surgery.

Fluid drainage after the tummy tuck is completely normal and natural, but an excessive elimination of fluids can cause further health issues. If you notice that an extreme amount of fluid is being drained from the incision site after your intervention, contact your doctor immediately. However, you should not worry if the amount of drainage is small as this is absolutely natural and it also signifies that your body has started the healing process.

Necrosis is a very rare complication after an abdominoplasty, but it is still dangerous. If you smoke and have a tummy tuck scheduled shortly, you should know that smoking has been linked with the occurrence of necrosis after the surgery. Smoking has a negative impact on your blood circulation; hence, increasing the risk of necrosis. As such, you should quit smoking for at least a few weeks or months before and after the intervention.

Excessive Bleeding

Once the tummy tuck surgery is finished, you might experience excessive bleeding at the surgical site. The bleeding can trigger an accumulation of blood under the skin which is a complication called hematoma. In addition, the excessive bleeding can also be the cause of seroma formation and though hematoma and seroma are not life-threatening complications, they can cause bad scarring. To be able to treat excessive bleeding and to prevent the formation of hematoma and seroma, additional surgery might be needed.


The risk of contracting infections is always present after the tummy tuck surgery. A small amount of recklessness can lead to infections at the incision. As such, it is essential to understand that infections can occur at the surgical site at any time during the first few weeks after the surgery and until the wound is completely healed.

A common bacterium that can cause infections and trigger other health issues is Staphylococcus aureus. Even if your plastic surgeon will prescribe antibiotics, keep in mind that some bacteria are resistant to antibiotics.

Washing your belly properly at least three times a day can help you keep infectious agents at bay, but make sure you ask your plastic surgeon about this and antibacterial soap might also be recommended to wash your abdominal area.

Pulmonary Emboli

Pulmonary emboli are another rare potential complication after the abdominoplasty, but it should not be overlooked because it is a life-threatening condition. An “embolus” is the term we use to define anything that enters the bloodstream and causes a disruption in normal blood circulation. After any complex plastic surgery such as the tummy tuck, you are more at risk of forming blood clots.

In contrast, thromboembolism is a condition that occurs when a blood clot enters the bloodstream and works its way into the lungs. Difficulty in breathing as well as an accumulation of fluid in the lungs can occur during a thromboembolism. This complication can even initiate a heart attack. There is no forewarning for thromboembolism and it is a severe and fatal condition.

The formation of pulmonary emboli has been noted within the first three weeks following the intervention. This is one of the reasons why the first few days after the tummy tuck are crucial. Make sure to draw the attention of your plastic surgeon if you find it difficult to breathe or you feel particularly exhausted after the abdominoplasty.

Moving immediately after the intervention can decrease the risk of forming pulmonary emboli. Expect your plastic surgeon to suggest that you get out of the bed and walk around gently as soon as you recover from the anesthesia to prevent blood clot formation.


Seroma is a complication that occurs more frequently after the tummy tuck surgery and it is thankfully not a life-threatening one. The seroma occurs when there is an accumulation of fluid under the skin encompassing the surgical site. Keep in mind that seroma does not happen immediately after the abdominoplasty as the fluids might take time to accumulate under the skin. Thus, seromas can be visible two or three weeks after the intervention was performed.

When a lot of tissues are damaged or removed during the intervention, there is an increased risk of seroma formation. To avoid this, your surgeon will insert a drain tube at the surgical site to help eliminate fluids from the area. The drain tube might be needed for a few days. If the seroma is formed we have plenty treatment options available to fix it.

Poor Wound Healing

After the tummy tuck surgery, it is possible for poor wound healing to occur. If you are affected by health problems such as diabetes, then the risk of poor wound healing happening increases. Smoking is another factor that contributes to this complication after the surgery. This is why patients are always advised to stop smoking for at least three weeks before and after the intervention.

Change or Loss of Skin Sensitivity

After the abdominoplasty, the patient might experience a change in skin sensitivity around the area that was operated on. This is usually a temporary complication, but it can become permanent in cases of severe nerve damage. The skin surrounding the belly button and on the inferior part of the tummy are more at risk of losing sensation.

Bad Scarring

Scarring is impossible to avoid after a tummy tuck surgery. There are patients who are genetically predisposed to developing keloid scars while there are others whose incisions heal beautifully. The abdominoplasty will certainly leave scars on the surgical area and these scars can pose issues to the patient. Generally, the scars become less and less visible with time, but no one can guarantee that you will be perfectly happy with the appearance of the scars after the surgery.

Unsightly scars can happen as a result of choosing an inexperienced plastic surgeon to perform the intervention. To be able to correct the unappealing scars, additional surgery might be required. Should you want to prevent bad scarring from occurring, make sure to choose your plastic surgeon carefully.

Skin Laxity

There are patients with loose skin after the abdominoplasty. Lax skin at the abdomen, flanks and sides can have a negative impact on the results of the intervention. The risks of experiencing this condition are increased when the patient starts losing weight after the intervention is performed.


As is the case with plenty of other surgical interventions, the tummy tuck procedure comes with risks and complications. Some of the potential hazards of the procedure only occur in rare occasions but the risk of suffering from them can never be completely eliminated. The complications we mentioned include necrosis, bleeding, infections as well as seroma, change and loss of skin sensitivity and bad scarring.

These potential complications may be more likely to happen in the case of patients suffering from health problems, which may lead the surgeon to make grave mistakes during the surgery. This is why it is essential to keep your doctor informed about any health condition that you might have prior to surgery. At the same time, choosing a board-certified plastic surgeon to conduct your intervention is the best way to prevent some of the potential complications.


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