Is tummy tuck riskier than other plastic surgery interventions?
Having firmer, toned, and aesthetically appealing abdomen is one of the major elements of modern standards for the physical beauty of women. However, there are a number of factors that cause the abdomen to become saggy. The most common factors that trigger the development of loose abdomen include pregnancies, aging, gravity, weight fluctuations, and genetics.
Fortunately, the tummy tuck is an effective treatment for the saggy abdomen. Also famously known as abdominoplasty, the tummy tuck surgery involves surgical removal of the excess skin and fat from your abdomen, besides tightening the abdominal wall muscle. The procedure can make your abdomen firmer, tighter, and toned; however, it is relatively riskier than other plastic surgery procedures.
Tummy tuck is relatively riskier
There have been a number of studies that have found the tummy tuck procedure to be riskier than other plastic surgery procedures. The rate of complications associated with the tummy tuck is greater than that of other interventions. The risks range from mild to severe.
There are many people who consider the tummy tuck procedure without doing their research and without being aware of the risks. As such, they think it is not important to share their complete medical history with the plastic surgeon. This often multiplies the risks. The tummy tuck is riskier because it entails the surgical removal of the skin, besides tampering with the tummy wall muscles. Notwithstanding the relatively greater risks, the procedures are still one of the most common procedures in the US. Every year, more than 100,000 tummy tuck procedures are carried out in the US.
The good news is that the improvements in surgical technologies and the advent of new and safer plastic surgery techniques and technologies have drastically reduced the risks associated with plastic surgery, including the tummy tuck. According to one study, 4% of patients who undergo tummy tuck experience serious complications after the intervention. This figure stands at 1.4% for other plastic surgery procedures.
What are the risks?
The decision to undergo the tummy tuck surgery is very personal, meaning you should be doing it for your own happiness and satisfaction rather than giving in to the pressure or wishes of someone else. You should undergo the procedure only as a last option and when the benefits are greater than the risks. The risks associated with the tummy tuck include:
Bleeding: Since the procedure involves the surgical removal of the excess skin from your abdomen, there is a risk you may experience excessive bleeding. This is particularly more likely if you are suffering from diabetes. Be sure to share your full medical history with the doctor in order to decrease the risk of bleeding.
Risk of anesthesia: The tummy tuck is a major operation and takes relatively more time than other plastic surgery procedures. It requires more attention to detail, which means the time you would remain under the influence of anesthesia would be longer. As a result, the risk of anesthetic reaction is greater in a tummy tuck than any other plastic surgery procedure. If you have a history of anesthesia allergy, be sure to bring this to the knowledge of your plastic surgeon.
Infection: The tummy tuck surgery involves large and major incisions. It is highly invasive, which means you would be at greater risk of infections after the intervention. The risk will be greater for you if you have a weak immune system.
Deep vein thrombosis, cardiac, and respiratory complications: Given the invasiveness of the procedure, the risk of cardiac and respiratory complications and deep vein thrombosis is present in the case of tummy tuck surgery. A blood clot may form in the deep vein, leading to major complications like a heart attack, formation of fluids in the lungs, and even cause a stroke.
Poor wound healing: If you have diabetes or a genetic tendency to poor wound healing, the risks would be greater for you after the tummy tuck. A poor or slow wound healing may lead to the development of unfavorable scars.
Seroma and hematoma: Seroma is a condition whereby the fluids discharged by the body after the surgery gets trapped under the skin. Hematoma means trapped blood (clotted blood) under the skin after the surgery. The risk of these two complications is relatively higher after a tummy tuck.
Loss of skin: The tummy tuck surgery involves more tampering with the veins, blood vessels, tissues, skin, and muscle. If the blood vessels and the skin get damaged, there is a risk it would lead to loss of your abdominal skin.
Change in or loss of skin sensation: During the procedure, there is a risk the nerves would be damaged or injured. If this happens, it can lead to a change in or loss of skin sensation. The condition can be temporary or permanent.
Unsightly scarring: As a result of the incisions and removal of skin, you would get scars in your abdomen. Normally, the scar will fade and become less noticeable over time. However, there is a risk abnormal scarring may happen, which can lead to the development of unsightly, raised, and clearly visible scars. This is particularly possible if you have a genetic tendency to develop abnormal scars or if you become careless during the recovery period.
Internal organ damage: Given the invasiveness of the procedure and the fact that it is performed on the abdomen, there is a risk your internal organs may be injured or damaged during the procedure. This can be life-threatening.
Other risks associated with the tummy tuck include:
- Discoloration of the skin
- Extensive and prolonged swelling
- Recurrent saggy abdomen
- Fat necrosis
- Uneven abdomen
- Unsatisfactory aesthetic outcomes
- The need for a revision surgery
- Severe and prolonged pain
Being aware of the risks
Since the risks associated with the tummy tuck are greater, it is important for the patient to discuss the risks with the plastic surgeon in detail. During the consultation, be sure to ask the surgeon what are the specific risks associated. Being aware of the risks would let you make a judicious decision and take precautionary measures after the surgery.
Remember, the risks can affect the achieved aesthetic outcomes in negative ways. You must do everything to avoid or reduce the risks. One of the best ways to do this is by having the surgery performed only by a board-certified plastic surgeon. The tummy tuck is a major operation that calls for high-level surgical skills. The surgeon must be highly experienced in the tummy tuck in order to decrease the risks.
One of the factors that determines the intensity and likelihood of the complications is your age. If you are aged above 60 years, the risks are greater for you. Moreover, if you are overweight, you are more at risk of the complications.
There are many patients who withhold their health and medication information from the doctor during the consultation session. This exposes them to more risks. For example, if you are suffering from diabetes, the risk of excessive bleeding, poor wound healing, and other health complications are greater for you during and after the tummy tuck. Also, patients taking blood-thinning medications are at higher risk of these complications.
During the consultation, the plastic surgeon will examine your body and assess your health. If the doctor determines that the risks are greater for you, you would either be advised to avoid the surgery or special precautionary measures would be taken during the surgery.
How to decrease the risks
As stated above, one of the effective ways to decrease the risks is by sharing your complete health and medication history with the doctor. If you have health problems like diabetes, blood disorder, cardiac and/or pulmonary problems, autoimmune disorder, or any other serious health problem, make sure to bring this to your surgeon’s knowledge. If you are a smoker, you must stop smoking at least 2-3 weeks before the surgery and remain a non-smoker for several weeks after the procedure.
After the intervention, be sure to follow the surgeon’s instructions and take all prescribed medications on time and according to the instructions of your doctor. Also, avoid engaging in physical activities for six weeks following the operation. The first two weeks following the surgery are critical. During this time, spend most of your time resting in bed. If you notice any abnormality in your health or on the surgery site, be sure to contact your surgeon. Also, wear the compression garments for the recommended time period after the tummy tuck.
Tummy tuck is a popular plastic surgery procedure that is used by hundreds of thousands of people each year to treat abdominal sagginess. The surgery involves removal of the excess skin from the abdomen, in addition to tightening the separated abdominal wall muscle. The surgery is relatively riskier because it is more invasive and involves skin excision. The risks associated with the procedure and ways to decrease the risks have been discussed above.