Cosmetic Surgery should not be taken lightly. All the procedures, even the aesthetic medicine ones, carry risks. Complications are rare and almost never cause serious long term problems but it is important to bear the risks in mind before committing to any procedure.
All surgical procedures leave behind permanent scars. The healing process can be slow, sometimes taking several months before the patient reaches a fully restored condition (max 3 years, usually 6 to 12 months). Initially the scar looks delicate and neat, but after one month it turns red and sometimes causes itching. This varies in intensity from person to person. After this the scar slowly evolves into its final stage, where is appears flat, soft and white.
While the scar is red or pink it needs to be protected from exposure to the sun, as during this period it is highly sensitive to pigmentation changes. The final appearance of a scar is hard to predict! Certain areas of the body heal less well (e.g. the back), mainly because of the tension that occurs around the scar that cannot be resolved regardless of the suture technique.
Swelling and bruising are a common and mild phenomenon, though their complexity can be unpredictable. These typically disappear on their own within a few weeks.
Hyperpigmentation: usually the result of bruising that takes a long time to subside. Local hyperpigmentation spots can also form and take several months to disappear. It is therefore important to protect them from the sun, otherwise they can persist or even worsen over the course of a year or longer.
Bleeding (hemorrhages), hematoma or seroma: these potential complications may require (sometimes emergency) surgery to correct e.g. to stop the bleeding or remove internal blood (hematoma) or lymph effusion (seroma) accumulation. The need for a blood transfusion is exceptionally rare.
Infection: this can range from a small, local infection around a suture thread (common), to a dermo-Cockett, or abscess (much rarer) that may require surgical drainage or antibiotic treatment. The consequences are usually an enlarged scar. A very rare form of infection is necrotising fasciitis, which requires antibiotic treatment and the removal of the infected tissue.
Alteration of sensitivity: skin nerve endings are inevitably cut off during a surgical procedure. The patient may experience a temporary reduction in feeling (numbness), or even an increased sensitivity in the operated region. Since the regrowth of a nerve is slow, normal sensitivity will not return for three to six months.
Opening of the wound after the removal of the sutures: this is exceptionally rare.
Deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism: if the blood remains stagnant in the veins of the lower limbs (e.g. if the patient is bedridden for some time) this may lead to the formation of a clot, usually in the calves. If a clot forms, it can become detached and "travel" to the heart, where it will enter the pulmonary vessels: this is a pulmonary embolism, a serious and sometimes fatal complication. There are preventive measures: staying mobile after surgery, subcutaneous anticoagulants and prophylaxis (injection). These can be tailored to the patient's medical history.
Skin necrosis: death of part of the skin due to an insufficient blood supply. This is rare and may occur after a large skin detachment. It is well known that this is exacerbated by smoking. This may require additional surgery to correct.