Medically Reviewed April 2023, by George Samouris - Consultant Aesthetic Plastic Surgeon
If you are wondering 'is a tummy tuck safe' and if surgery is for you, you will need more information about the procedure to make your decision. Here we will be covering the details of abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) safety, including side effects, risks and potential complications.
As with any surgical procedure, it is important to consider the associated risks alongside the potential benefits that the treatment can offer.
So, is a tummy tuck safe? The specifics vary depending on the type of abdominoplasty performed, but a study published in the Journal of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery found that complications occur in just 4% of cases overall.
So what are the potential complications?
Haematoma – If there is bleeding underneath the skin following surgery, this can collect and clot, forming a swollen and tender area under the skin. Good surgical practice can help to prevent haematoma. At The Harley Medical Group, our surgeons have the skills and experience to perform surgery in a way that prevents complications as much as possible.
Infection – The second most common complication of abdominoplasty is an infection, occurring in between 1 and 4% of cases. The aseptic technique used during surgery helps to prevent infection during the procedure, but there are a number of factors that increase infection risk following surgery. These include smoking, having a higher BMI and being diabetic.
Skin necrosis – If there is inadequate blood supply to the skin overlying the abdomen, the tissue can begin to die. The best method of prevention of skin necrosis is to avoid smoking tobacco long before surgery and afterwards.
Venous thromboembolism – A complication that occurs in 0.3-1.1% of cases, where blood clots form either in the legs, causing a deep vein thrombosis or in the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism. These are dangerous complications that require medical intervention. There are important ways of preventing this complication that centre around mobility following surgery that are covered in detail below.
How can I reduce the likelihood of complications occurring?
There is always an element of risk that comes with undergoing tummy tuck surgery, this is in part due to the surgery itself as well as the anaesthetic. The best method of preventing complications is to choose an experienced, skilled and appropriately regulated surgeon. This will ensure that the procedure is carried out in the safest possible way.
In addition to your choice of surgeon, there are some choices you can make in preparation to reduce complication risk:
Increase the amount of protein in your diet – promotes tissue repair and aids immune function
Eat fresh fruit and vegetables – ensures a healthy intake of vitamins and minerals
Keep hydrated – helps maintain healthy digestion
Engage in preoperative discussions with your surgeon about antibiotics and blood thinners in the event that they are needed
Drink too much alcohol – try to reduce your alcohol intake prior to surgery to eliminate the negative effects of alcohol on wound healing and recovery
Smoke - stopping smoking long before surgery is essential because smoking increases the likelihood of complications during surgery and can delay the recovery process
Drink too much caffeine – excess caffeine can cause stress on the body and impact wound healing
Expert Recovery Tip: After surgery, it is important to get moving as soon as possible. As soon as you feel able to, get out of bed and take a short walk to promote blood flow and prevent clot formation.