Complications after Tummy Tuck: How Rare Is It Really?

Complications after Tummy Tuck: How Rare Is It Really?

A tummy tuck, also known as abdominoplasty, is a type of cosmetic surgery. The surgeons perform it with an intention to improve the appearance of the abdomen of the candidate. In this surgery, the cosmetic surgeon removes the excess skin and fat from the middle and the lower abdomen.

Apart from removing the extra skin and fat, the cosmetic surgeon also tightens the connective tissues in the abdomen with sutures sometimes The entire purpose of the procedure is to give a more toned and sleek appearance to the abdomen.

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People often confuse between a tummy tuck and a weight loss surgery. Both these procedures are not the same. A tummy tuck only helps tone and shape the abdomen as per the candidate’s choice. It is not an alternative to weight loss surgery and neither it helps lose any weight. On the other hand, a weight loss surgery is a more invasive procedure that is suitable for candidates who are morbidly obese. Such candidates do not benefit from a tummy tuck surgery.

A tummy tuck helps boost the body image. Surgeons recommend it to people who have a weaker lower abdominal wall or have excess skin around the navel or the belly button. Abdominoplasty helps such individuals gain confidence with respect to their bodies and achieve a dapper look.

This article talks about some of the complications that may occur in life after you’ve had a tummy tuck. But first, let’s look into why tummy tuck is conducted in the first place.

Why is Tummy Tuck done, after all?

Excess flab in the abdominal area does not only represent fat but it also shows that the skin around the abdominal area lacks strength and elasticity. It also indicates excess skin in the region and stretching of the inner girdle of the abdominal fascia.

The toning and the appearance of the abdominal area are dictated by the inner girdle. The abdomen appears more protruded when the connective tissue or the abdominal fascia is stretched because of some natural reasons such as pregnancy or drastic changes in weight. In such situations, a tummy tuck proves effective as it helps tighten the weak fascia while removing the excess skin and fat in the abdomen.

A tummy tuck is also useful in removing excess skin below the belly button and stretch marks. This is the reason why women may choose to undergo a tummy tuck after delivering the baby. Additionally, people who undergo a weight loss surgery resulting in loose folds of skin can also opt for a tummy tuck.

However, this procedure is not for all individuals. It is not suitable for the following categories of people:

  • Women who wish to plan a pregnancy in the future
  • Candidates who wish to lose a drastic amount of weight
  • People who suffer from a chronic disease or condition such as heart disease or diabetes
  • People who have a body mass index greater than 30

Is Abdominoplasty Completely Safe?

According to the statistics by the American Society for Plastic Surgeons, a tummy tuck is the sixth most common cosmetic procedure in the US. In 2014 alone, nearly 117,000 candidates underwent the tummy tuck procedure.

The number of candidates requesting for a tummy tuck surgery has been increasing steadily for the last few years. This is because of an increase in obesity rates and the number of people opting to undergo weight loss surgery. Such people tend to opt for tummy tuck post-bariatric surgery for body contouring and removal of extra skin left after massive weight loss.

Overall, abdominoplasty is a safe procedure and the risk of complications occurring post surgery is low. However, they do affect a fraction of the patients. When a complication occurs, it can leave the affected individuals devastated while posing a great financial burden.

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When compared to weight loss surgery, the discomfort or the side effects that the candidate experienced after tummy tuck are less severe. For example, a candidate undergoing a weight loss surgery may experience acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, and shortness of breath after laparoscopic gastric banding. However, such discomforts rarely occur in tummy tuck candidates.

Commonly Reported Complications After Tummy Tuck

The following are some of the complications that patients report after a tummy tuck surgery:

Complication #1: Abdominal Compartment Syndrome

What is it: Increased pressure in the abdomen

Symptoms: Low blood pressure, breathing issues, abdominal distension, and decreased urination

The reason why it may occur: When the rectus abdominis muscles are not put back to the original anatomical norms by the surgeon.

Complication #2: Upper Abdominal Bulge

What is it: Abdominal lump or swelling

Symptoms: Abnormal protrusion in the upper abdomen, which is generally soft

Reasons why it may occur: Due to insufficient tightening of the upper abdomen and extreme tightening of the lower abdomen by the surgeon.

Complication #3: Swelling in the Abdomen

Reasons why it may occur: Swelling after a tummy tuck surgery is normal. It persists for four to six months after the surgery. After this time period, it should settle on its own.

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Rarely Reported Complications After Tummy Tuck

Complication #1: Infection After Tummy Tuck

What is it: Infection after tummy tuck is a rare complication. It can be a simple suture infection that results when the body tries to dissolve the stitched by itself. It can be a dangerous Methicillin Resistant Staph Aureus (MRSA) infection that required intensive treatment.

Symptoms: Fever and redness

Reason why it may occur: An infection usually results if antibiotics are not given to the candidate prior to the procedure. It may also result when either the candidate is allergic to the preoperative antibiotics or if there has been a previous episode of MRSA.

Complication #2: Fluid Accumulation After Tummy Tuck

What is it: Accumulation of fluid in the space between the abdominal skin and the muscle that underlies it. Fluid accumulation can be a seroma (collection of wound fluid) or hematoma (collection of blood ).

Reason why it may occur: Fluid accumulation occurs when nothing is done to prevent it. To prevent the occurrence of such complications, the candidate must wear compression garments for at least a few weeks after the procedure. The use of fluid pads over the area prone to fluid accumulation can help.

Last modified on at Oct 08, 2019

Guneet Bhatia

Guneet Bhatia is an avid reader, healthcare writer, and is currently Director of Patient Care Department, MediGence. She has also been featured on many prominent Healthcare portals such as IBTimes, HCIT Expert, Clinician Today.

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