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risks and complications from plastic surgery australia


Individual results will vary according to factors including genetics, age, diet and exercise. All surgery carries risks and requires a recovery period and care regime including wearing of post-operative garments. More information is available from the relevant procedure page on our website. You should seek a second opinion from a Specialist Surgeon before proceeding. Dr Moncrieff is a Specialist Plastic Surgeon - AHPRA Registration: MED0001182297.

The General Risks of Surgery

All surgery involves a wide range of procedures that can vary in complexity and risk. There are inherent risks and potential complications associated with all surgery. The risks can vary depending on the specific procedure, the patient's health status, and other factors. Here are some general risks associated with surgery:

  1. Anesthesia Complications: General and local anesthesia carries risks such as allergic reactions, adverse reactions to medications, breathing difficulties, and in rare cases, serious complications like heart or lung issues.
  2. Infection: Surgical sites can become infected, leading to wound complications and the potential spread of infection to other parts of the body.
  3. Bleeding: Surgical procedures involve cutting and manipulating tissues, which can lead to bleeding. While surgeons take steps to control bleeding, excessive bleeding can sometimes occur.
  4. Blood Clots: Prolonged immobility during and after surgery can increase the risk of blood clot formation (deep vein thrombosis) that may lead to complications if the clot travels to the lungs (pulmonary embolism).
  5. Mortality: While very rare in healthy patients undergoing elective surgery, the risk of serious complications resulting in death must be understood.
  6. Scarring: All surgical procedures result in some level of scarring. Surgeons strive to minimise scarring through careful incision techniques, but scars are a natural part of the healing process.
  7. Wound Healing Issues: Some individuals may experience delayed wound healing or wound dehiscence (wound reopening) due to various factors, such as infection, poor blood flow, or compromised immune function.
  8. Organ Damage: In complex surgeries, there is a risk of unintentional damage to nearby organs or structures.
  9. Nerve Damage: Surgical procedures can potentially damage nerves, leading to temporary or permanent loss of sensation or movement in the affected area.
  10. Adverse Reaction to Medications: Patients can have adverse reactions to medications used during surgery, including painkillers, antibiotics, and other drugs.
  11. Digestive System Issues: After abdominal surgeries, some patients may experience digestive system-related complications like bowel obstructions, constipation, or issues with bowel movement.
  12. Complications with Healing Tissues: Patients with underlying health conditions like diabetes or poor circulation may experience difficulties in wound healing.
  13. Hematoma and Seroma: Hematoma is a collection of blood outside of a blood vessel, and seroma is a buildup of fluid. Both of these can occur after surgery and might require drainage to prevent complications.
  14. Hernia Formation: In some cases, surgical incisions can lead to hernias, where tissue or organs protrude through the weakened area.
  15. Respiratory Complications: Patients undergoing general surgery may be at risk of post-operative respiratory issues like pneumonia or lung collapse due to changes in breathing patterns and immobility.
  16. Urinary Tract Infections: Patients with urinary catheters during surgery may be at an increased risk of developing urinary tract infections.

It's important to note that while these risks are potential, many surgeries are successful with minimal complications. Surgeons and medical teams work diligently to minimise risks and provide the best possible care for patients. Prior to undergoing any surgery, patients should have a thorough discussion with their surgeon to understand the specific risks and benefits associated with their procedure, as well as the steps taken to mitigate those risks.

The Risks of Plastic Surgery

Plastic surgery, like any medical procedure, carries both benefits and risks.. Some of the risks associated with plastic surgery which are additional to the above general risks of surgery include:

  1. Unsatisfactory Results: Plastic surgery outcomes may not always meet the patient's expectations. Dissatisfaction with results, even if the surgery is performed correctly, is a risk.
  2. Asymmetry: Achieving perfect symmetry is challenging, and there's always a risk that post-operative results might lead to slight asymmetry.
  3. Emotional and Psychological Effects: Plastic surgery can have emotional and psychological effects. While some individuals experience a high level of satisfaction with their results, others may feel disappointment or struggle with unrealistic expectations.
  4. Allergic Reactions: Some patients may have allergic reactions to surgical materials such as sutures, dressings, or implants.
  5. Complications with Implants: For procedures involving implants (e.g., breast augmentation), there are potential risks such as implant rupture, displacement, Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (ALCL), a condition known as Breast Implant Illness, or capsular contracture (scar tissue forming around the implant).

More details about specific risks for each procedure are listed in the FAQ section on each procedure page.

It's essential to thoroughly discuss these risks with a qualified and experienced Plastic Surgeon during the consultation process. A responsible and ethical surgeon will provide you with a realistic understanding of potential risks and work with you to make an informed decision about whether plastic surgery is right for you. More information about the risks involved with each procedure offered by Dr Moncrieff can be found in the FAQ section of the relevant procedure page.

How to reduce your risks

While nothing will reduce risks of surgery to nothing, you have the power to reduce your risks!

Choosing the right surgeon, having a healthy lifestyle and following your pre and post operative instructions are key to reducing your risks.

Most important steps to reducing risks and potential complications of plastic surgery: 

  1. Choose a qualified Specialist Plastic Surgeon like Dr Moncrieff
  2. Have and maintain a healthy BMI ideally in the healthy weight range of 20-25, and no more than 30.
  3. Stop smoking before surgery and continue afterwards to maximise healthy blood supply.
  4. Follow your pre and post operative instructions including wearing garments and managing dressings as instructed and following the activity guidelines.
  5. Escalate any issues or concerns quickly to your surgeon or other appropriate medical professional.
News Nurse Alecia treating our patients with post operative care at Hunter Plastic Surgery by Dr Nicholas Moncrieff 2

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