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The 10 Most Common Plastic Surgery Complications

Every type of surgery, whether medical or cosmetic, carries a number of risks and potential complications. Last year alone, nearly 46,000 cosmetic surgery procedures were carried out in the UK, not including those who may have travelled abroad to find a surgeon.

Committing to surgery in order to change our appearance is continuing to be a common occurrence in modern day society. But having said that, are you aware of all of the risks that go alongside cosmetic surgery?

October 5, 2015

To help you understand the complications that surround cosmetic surgery, we have listed the ten most common risks and complications.

Nerve Damage

The most common symptoms of nerve damage following surgery are numbness and tingling in the surrounding areas. Nerve damage is a common risk in many different types of surgery due to the trauma caused to the body. The majority of patients who undergo a breast augmentation with notice a change in sensitivity following their procedure, with around 15% of these women permanently losing the feeling in either one, or both of their nipples.


Most surgical procedures will leave the patient with a small amount of scarring, which should be expected before you undertake the surgery. However, where this becomes excessive, it can be very frustrating and upsetting for the patient. Especially where the surgery was undertaken in order to improve your appearance. Many younger patients are prone to scarring as they have tighter skin, therefore more tension occurs when stretching the skin back together.


A hematoma is a pocket of blood that gathers under the skin. It will present itself as a large and often painful bruise. This unpleasant side effect is the most common complication to affect those who have had a facelift and occurs in around 1-6% of all breast augmentation surgeries.

The risk of developing a hematoma is present in almost all surgeries, which often ends in further treatment in order to drain the blood.

Anesthesia Complications

Anesthesia is the practice that allows patients to undergo surgery without feeling the procedure. General anesthesia, where medication is used to make you unconscious, can sometimes lead to complications. These include lung infections, stroke, heart attacks, and death. More common anesthesia risks include waking up confused and disoriented, and shivering. A less common complication is anesthesia awareness, or waking up in the middle of surgery.


Though hospitals and clinics have special measures to prevent infection, it is still remains prevalent amongst all types of cosmetic surgery. Unfortunately, any opening to the skin, gives an entry point for bacteria to enter the body, which can allow it to “attack” the tissue, causing infection. Poor postoperative care can often be a contributor to this. Usually, this can be treated with antibiotics, however if the infection is particularly aggressive, it can require IV antibiotics.

Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism

Although deep vein thrombosis can develop in seemingly normal circumstances, the risk is greatly increased whilst in hospital. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot that is formed within one of the deep veins found in the body, usually starting in the leg. It can cause pain and swelling in the leg and has the potential to lead to other complications such as a pulmonary embolism. This occurs when a piece of the blood clot breaks off into the bloodstream and causes an obstruction, blocking the blood vessels in the lung. Though this is uncommon, it can be fatal if it isn’t spotted and treated within good time.

Unwanted Results

Unfortunately, when you put your looks in the hands of a surgeon, there is no guarantee of what the end result will be. A large proportion of people who choose cosmetic surgery are happy with their appearance, however, there is always the possibility of results not turning out how you wished. Procedures such as break augmentation could result in asymmetry, or a face lift could result in your face looking over-stretched.


Seroma is a collection of fluid that builds up under the skin, following a surgical procedure. It tends to occur where the initial incision was made, or where tissue has been removed. For this reason it is one of the most common complications of a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty). Seromas are at high risk of becoming infected, so consultants often opt for them to be drained.

Organ Damage

Although extremely rare, there have been cases where organs have been pierced during seemingly “straight forward” procedures. There is a higher risk of something going wrong with invasive procedures such as liposuction.  These perforations could lead to further surgery, or in extreme cases death. Organ damage of such an extent, may almost always be attributed to negligent behaviour by your surgeon.

Blood Loss

Like many of the complications mentioned, a small amount of blood loss can be expected. However, extensive blood loss, or haemorrhaging, can lead to a number of other very serious complications, that could lead to death. This could happen during the operation, or post surgery.

As will all types of surgery, the risks are greater for certain types of people. These including those who are elderly, obese, smokers, those with underlying conditions etc.

The risk of encountering complications can be reduced by fully researching the background of your full medical team and the hospital or clinic where the procedure will be carried out.

You should also ensure you ask questions prior to the surgery, to make sure you understand the full extent of the procedure that you are consenting to.

If you have found yourself suffering as a result of any of the complications mentioned above, that may have been caused as a result of negligent behaviour, contact Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors today for a free initial chat about your situation and find out if you are eligible for cosmetic surgery compensation.

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