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Possible complications of surgery

Healing Issues

Certain medical conditions, dietary supplements, nicotine and medications may delay and interfere with healing. Patients with massive weight loss may have a healing delay that could result in the incisions coming apart, infection, and tissue changes, resulting in the need for additional medical care, surgery, and prolonged hospitalizations. Patients with diabetes or those taking medications such as steroids on an extended basis may have prolonged healing issues. Smoking will cause a delay in the healing process, may predispose to wound breakdown, often resulting in the need for additional surgery. There are general risks associated with healing such as swelling, bleeding, possibility of additional surgery, prolonged recovery, color changes, shape changes, infection, not meeting patient goals and expectations, and added expense to the patient. There may also be a longer recovery due to the length of surgery and anesthesia. Patients with significant skin laxity will continue to have the same lax skin after surgery. The quality or elasticity of skin will not change, and recurrence of skin looseness will occur at some time in the future, quicker for some than others. There are nerve endings that may become involved with healing scars from surgery. While there may not be a major nerve injury, the small nerve endings may become too active during the healing period, thus producing a painful or oversensitive area due to the small sensory nerve involved with scar tissue. Often, massage and early non-surgical intervention resolves this. It is important to discuss post-surgical pain with your surgeon.


It is possible, though unusual, to experience a bleeding episode during or after surgery. If it is small and localized, apply direct pressure for 5-8 minutes, through a small rolled towel, this should arrest the ooze. Should post- operative bleeding continue to occur, it may require an emergency treatment to arrest and drain the accumulated blood or if more severe, you may require a blood transfusion, though such occurrences are rare. The collection of blood that can occur under your skin following surgery is referred to as a hematoma. Increased activity too soon after surgery can lead to an increased chance of bleeding and additional surgery. It is important to follow post- operative instructions and to limit exercise and strenuous activity for the instructed time. Non-prescription “herbs” and dietary supplements can increase the risk of surgical bleeding. Hematomas can occur at any time, usually in the first three weeks following injury to the operative area. If blood transfusions are necessary to treat blood loss, there is the risk of blood-related infections such as hepatitis and HIV (AIDS). Your surgeon may provide medications after your surgery to prevent blood clots. Medications that are used to prevent blood clots in veins can produce bleeding and decreased blood platelets.


Infection, although uncommon, can occur after surgery. Should an infection occur, additional treatment including antibiotics, hospitalization, or additional surgery may be necessary. It is important to tell your surgeon of any other infections, such as a history of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections, an open wound, recent upper respiratory infection/pneumonia, ingrown toenail, insect bite, tooth abscess, or urinary tract infection. Infections in other parts of the body may lead to an infection in the operated area. Post-operative infections often result in more extensive scarring and predispose to revision surgery.


All surgeries leave scars, some more visible than others. Although good wound healing after a surgical procedure is expected, this surgery will result in long, prominent scars that are permanent. Abnormal scars may occur within the skin and deeper tissues. Scars may be unattractive and of a different color than the surrounding skin tone. Scar appearance may also vary within the same scar. Scars may be asymmetrical (appear different on the right and left side of the body). There is a possibility of visible marks in the skin from sutures. These scars may become raised, red, or discolored in the first few weeks/months, but usually settle down over time. However, some patients are prone to “hypertrophic” or “keloid” scars, i.e., prominent, raised, red scars that do not settle. Further treatments with medications and/or surgery may be required.


Excessive firmness can occur after surgery due to internal scarring. The occurrence of this is not predictable. Additional treatment, including surgery, may be necessary.

Skin Sensitivity

Itching, tenderness, or exaggerated responses to hot or cold temperatures may occur after surgery. Usually this resolves during healing, but in rare situations, it may be chronic.

Major Wound Separation

Wounds may separate after surgery. Should this occur, additional treatment, including surgery, may be necessary.


Most surgical techniques use deep sutures. You may notice these sutures after your surgery. Sutures may spontaneously poke through the skin, become visible, or produce irritation that requires suture removal.

Damage to Deeper Structure

There is the possibility for injury to deeper structures including nerves, blood vessels, lymphatics, muscles, and lungs (pneumothorax) during any surgical procedure. The potential for this to occur varies according to the type of procedure being performed. Injury to deeper structures may be temporary or permanent.

Fat Necrosis

Fatty tissue found deep in the skin might die. This may produce areas of firmness within the skin. Additional surgery to remove areas of fat necrosis may be necessary. There is a possibility of contour irregularities in the skin that may result from fat necrosis.


Infrequently, fluid may accumulate between the skin and the underlying tissues following surgery, trauma, or vigorous exercise. Should this problem occur, it may require additional procedures for drainage of fluid.

Surgical Anesthesia

Both local and general anesthesia involve risk. There is the possibility of complications, injury, and even death from all forms of surgical anesthesia or sedation.
Shock- In rare circumstances, your surgical procedure can cause severe trauma, particularly when multiple or extensive procedures are performed. Although serious complications are infrequent, infections or excessive fluid loss can lead to severe illness and even death. If surgical shock occurs, hospitalization and additional treatment would be necessary.

Cardiac and Pulmonary Complications

Pulmonary complications may occur subsequent to blood clots (pulmonary emboli), fat deposits (fat emboli), pneumonia, or partial collapse of the lungs after general anesthesia. Pulmonary emboli can be life threatening or fatal in some circumstances. Inactivity and other conditions may increase the incidence of blood clots traveling to the lungs causing a major blood clot that may result in death. It is important to discuss with Dr V Chetty-B any past history of swelling in your legs or blood clots that may contribute to this condition. Cardiac complications are a risk with any surgery and anesthesia, even in patients without symptoms. If you experience shortness of breath, chest pains, or unusual heartbeats, seek medical attention immediately. Should any of these complications occur, go directly to your nearest Emergency department/ Hospital Casualty, you may require hospitalization and additional treatment.

Venous Thrombosis (Clot) and Sequelae

Thrombosed veins, which resemble cords, occasionally develop in the area of the breast or around IV sites, and usually resolve without medical or surgical treatment. It is important to discuss with your surgeon any birth control pills you are taking. Certain high estrogen pills may increase your risk of thrombosed veins, personal history of bleeding and clotting problems may also increase your risk of thrombosed veins.

Allergic Reactions

In rare cases, local allergies to tape, suture material and glues, blood products, topical preparations, or injected agents have been reported. Serious systemic reactions, including shock (anaphylaxis), may occur in response to drugs used during surgery and prescription medicines. Allergic reactions may require additional treatment. It is important to notify Dr V Chetty-B of any previous allergic reactions.

Drug Reactions

Unexpected drug allergies, lack of proper response to medication, or illness caused by the prescribed drug are possibilities. It is important to inform Dr V Chetty-B of any problems or reactions you have had with any medication or allergies to medication, prescribed or over the counter, as well as medications you regularly take. Provide your surgeon with a list of medications and supplements you are currently taking.


Symmetrical body appearance may not result after surgery. Factors such as skin tone, fatty deposits, skeletal prominence, and muscle tone may contribute to normal asymmetry in body features. Most patients have differences between the right and left side of their bodies before any surgery is performed. Additional surgery may be necessary to attempt to diminish asymmetry.

Surgical Wetting Solutions

There is a possibility that large volumes of fluid containing dilute local anesthetic drugs and epinephrine that is injected into fatty deposits during surgery may contribute to fluid overload or systemic reaction to these medications. Additional treatment, including hospitalization, may be necessary.

Fat/ Air Embolism

In rare cases, fat particles or air can enter the vascular system and travel to the heart, lungs, or brain. This can result in significant complications including death.

Persistent Swelling (Lymphedema)

Persistent swelling can occur following surgery.

Unsatisfactory Result

Although good results are expected, there is no guarantee or warranty, expressed or implied, on the results that may be obtained. The body is not symmetrical and almost everyone has some degree of unevenness that may not be recognized in advance. One side of the face may be slightly larger or one side of the face droopier. The breast and trunk area exhibit the same possibilities. Many of such issues cannot be fully corrected with surgery. The more realistic your expectations are to the results, the better your results will appear to you. Some patients never achieve their desired goals or results, at no fault of the surgeon or surgery. You may be disappointed with the results of surgery. Asymmetry, unanticipated shape and size, loss of function, wound disruption, poor healing, and loss of sensation may occur after surgery. Size may be incorrect. Unsatisfactory surgical scar location or appearance may occur. It may be necessary to perform additional surgery to improve your results. Unsatisfactory results may NOT improve with each additional treatment.