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Cosmetic surgery can deliver meaningful benefits for patients in terms of their body image and general wellbeing, but like any type of surgery, it can also pose considerable risks. Even when performed by a highly competent and expertly trained medical professional, invasive surgery carries inherent risks that can only be minimised, rather than completely avoided.

When dealing with certain high-risk procedures, the chances of something serious going wrong during surgery is considerably greater, to the point where some patients may wish to think twice before making a commitment. For others, the risk will be worth the potential results - the most important thing is that every individual is able to make an educated decision about the treatment they are interested in, and do not find themselves suffering any consequences from surgery that they were simply not warned about.

Here, we examine five of the riskiest cosmetic procedures and their potential dangers. By getting the right information about the potential pitfalls of surgery, patients will be in a better position to make a decision that’s right for them.

Brazilian bum lifts

A procedure that’s been all over the headlines for the wrong reasons in 2018, the Brazilian Bum Lift (BBL) has been cited by the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) as having the highest rate of death for any aesthetic procedure, with as many as one in 3,000 patients dying as a result of the surgery.

The technique involves removing fat deposits from one part of the body and injecting this fat into the buttocks in order to augment their shape and overall appearance. It has become a highly fashionable procedure, with many Britons going abroad to receive treatment on the cheap, but it comes with considerable risks - if performed incorrectly, fat or fillers can enter one of the major blood vessels, resulting in a deadly pulmonary embolism.

Such are the risks posed by the BBL that in October BAAPS called on all of its members to cease offering the procedure until more research can be conducted into its safety. As such, anyone undergoing this type of surgery at present is very much doing so at their own risk.

Tummy tucks

Tummy tucks have a reputation for being a relatively straightforward procedure, and are among the most common forms of cosmetic surgery among men and women. However, the technique involves a considerable amount of risk, of which many people may not be fully aware.

Also known as abdominoplasty, this procedure involves the removal of excess skin and fat from the abdomen area, before the remaining skin is tightened to enhance the appearance of the stomach. The process can be quite stressful on the body, and can result in blood clots that infiltrate the lungs, with serious consequences for the patient’s wellbeing.

As such, people who may potentially be vulnerable in terms of their health - for example, older individuals or those with a history of medical problems - may want to think carefully before agreeing to undergo this surgery.


Liposuction is another procedure that’s often thought of as being a simple weight loss solution, but the reality is that the technique involves numerous potential complications.

People undergoing liposuction do so to have specific localised fat deposits removed from chosen areas of their body. Usually, this is a safe and successful process, but if it goes wrong it can result in serious infections, blood clots, fat clogs in the lungs or perforation of the stomach wall. Additionally, the shift in body fluid composition can also cause dehydration and hypovolemic shock.

Many of these complications can lead to fatalities in some circumstances, which is why it’s important that liposuction be treated as the intensive medical procedure it is, rather than as a “quick fix” alternative to diet and exercise.

Facial reconstruction

Facial reconstruction is a category of surgery that’s broad enough to encompass a wide range of different processes, some of which are more complex than others. Some surgeries are purely for aesthetic reasons, while others are necessitated by a previous trauma or injury.

When undergoing an intensive facial reconstruction process targeting several areas at once, the risks are fairly self-explanatory. One of the most dangerous procedures within this category is orthognathic surgery, which involves reshaping and structuring the jaw - an area populated by several critical blood vessels, making the margin for error extremely narrow.

However, even simple procedures like liquid silicone facial injections, a type of dermal filler, can pose their own risks, especially since these are often offered by practitioners who lack the proper training and qualifications. When applied incorrectly, these can lead to swelling and bad reactions from the immune system, with the end result being disfigurement - as such, it's vital to ensure that your practitioner is properly accredited should you wish to undergo this procedure.

Body lifts

Body lifts are among the most intensive forms of cosmetic surgery a person can receive, involving the removal of considerable amounts of excess skin and soft tissue around the abdomen, buttocks, lower back, thighs and breasts. It may require lifting of the entire abdominal skin, repositioning of the belly button and the tightening of the abdominal muscles.

Often performed on people with excess skin, including those who have experienced considerable weight loss, the process consists of several different procedures - including liposuction, tummy tucks and buttock lifts - and can take up to eight hours. The patient must remain anaesthetised throughout this time, which increases the risk of heart problems, in addition to the dangers inherent to all of the individual processes a body lift encompasses.

Body lifts also take a long time to recover from, meaning that anyone considering this type of surgery should only do so after an in-depth discussion with a trained medical professional about whether the procedure is truly necessary.

To learn more about how to find a qualified cosmetic surgeon in the UK who can help you make an informed decision about your treatment, read our comprehensive guide.

If you have experienced problems following surgery as a result of clinical negligence, you can call us on 0808 256 1296 or complete our contact form to speak to us and find out if you can make a compensation claim.

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