Tummy Tuck Risks and Complications: The Knowledge You Need for Great Results!

Dr. Sacha Obaid, Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon Serving Dallas, Plano, Southlake, and Nearby Fort Worth, Texas

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If you've decided to have an abdominoplasty (AKA tummy tuck)—or if you're thinking about having one—it's important to understand how the procedure works and how you can prepare for your best results. Learning about tummy tuck risks before your consultation with Dr. Obaid will help you come prepared with the questions you want to ask your surgeon. If you're properly prepared, you're much more likely to come through your tummy tuck with flying colors, looking and feeling great!

Common Misunderstandings about Tummy Tucks

There are lots of misunderstandings and myths on the Internet about cosmetic surgery procedures, so it's important to sift the truth from the fiction to be properly prepared. Myth #1: You'll lose a lot of weight with a tummy tuck – This isn't the case. Most of the time a tummy tuck only removes a few pounds of excess skin. What this procedure accomplishes is to streamline your abdominal area, but the actual amount of weight you’ll lose is low. Myth #2: Your body will go back to the way it was eventually – Not if you take care of yourself! The results of a tummy tuck are permanent, but a tummy tuck can't prevent your body from changing if you gain or lose more weight or become pregnant. This is why it's better to have the procedure after you've lost all the weight you want to or after you've had all the children you plan to. Myth #3: The scarring is extensive and very noticeable – All tummy tucks leave scars, but they do fade over time. And in most cases, they can be positioned in such a way that they're easily hidden by underwear or a bathing suit or bikini. tummy tuck risks

Tummy Tuck Risks and Complications: What Should You Be Prepared For?

Like all procedures, the tummy tuck has some associated risks:

Surgical risks include:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Reaction to anesthesia

Post-surgery risks include:

  • Infection
  • Hematoma
  • Blood clot
  • Pain
  • Dissatisfaction with surgery results

There are also some possible complications that can happen after a tummy tuck:

  • Incisions that take longer to heal than normal
  • Incisions that become irritated or inflamed
  • Developing an infection – If this happens, it usually occurs within a few days of the procedure. Your surgeon will prescribe antibiotics to reduce your infection risk, and it's important to take these exactly as directed.
  • Swelling that lasts longer than normal
  • Extensive scarring, or scars that don't fade as expected
  • Loss of sensation around incisions
  • Necrosis (death) of fatty tissue beneath the skin

You Can Reduce Your Risk of Complications!

It's important to know that the tummy tuck is a higher-risk procedure compared to other kinds of cosmetic surgery. There is a 4% risk of major complications such as hematoma or infection after a tummy tuck. What’s also important to know is that you can reduce your risk of complications by choosing a good surgeon and by following their instructions for preparation and recovery.

Choose an Experienced Surgeon.

The most effective way to minimize tummy tuck risks is to choose a great surgeon—someone who's experienced and who has performed the procedure many times. If your surgeon has lots of experience with tummy tucks and performs them regularly, they're likely to use current equipment and techniques and be well prepared for the kinds of complications that can arise. Your best bet is to choose a surgeon who's certified with both the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the American Board of Plastic Surgery, Inc. This way, you can be sure they have the right training and that they're familiar with the latest tummy tuck techniques.

Choose the Right Kind of Tummy Tuck.

There's more than one kind of tummy tuck, and each kind is suitable for different situations and gives different results. For instance, if you only need a small amount of skin removed, you might get good results with a mini tummy tuck. If you've lost a large amount of weight and have loose skin on your sides and back, as well as your abdomen, an extended or 360-degree tummy tuck may be a better choice. Talk to your surgeon about what will work best for you and what they recommend. Make the choice that will give you the results you want, and you're much more likely to be happy with the outcome of your surgery.

Have the Tummy Tuck by Itself.

Many people choose to combine their tummy tuck with other procedures, such as liposuction. This can be a great way of getting even better results, but combining procedures does increase the risks involved. If you already have a relatively high level of risk—for example, if you're over 55, are a smoker, or have a chronic illness—it may be better to opt for the tummy tuck by itself rather than combining procedures. This reduces your risk of complications from 4% to 3.1%.

Follow Your Surgeon's Instructions.

Your surgeon will have some instructions and recommendations for you that will help you prepare for and recover from your surgery. Follow these closely to get the best results from your tummy tuck. For example, smoking and certain medications increase the risk of complications during or after surgery. Your surgeon will advise you to stop smoking for as long as possible before your surgery and to stop taking certain kinds of medications for a couple of weeks. You'll also get recommendations about post-surgery activity and exercise, wearing compression garments to control swelling, and other things. These will help your recovery go more smoothly and more comfortably and reduce your risk of infection and other issues. For instance, it's important to limit activities that engage your core muscles in order to avoid straining those muscles and to avoid the possibility of tearing the incision.

Be Prepared for Great Results

It's true that there are tummy tuck risks and complications that can potentially affect anyone who has the procedure. But by choosing an experienced surgeon and being well prepared for surgery and the recovery period afterward, you can reduce your risk of complications and achieve incredible results!

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