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Cosmetic Surgery Risks

Cosmetic surgery is usually very safe and having a general anaesthetic, particularly in people who are relatively young fit and healthy, is also very safe. In our experience, the vast majority of people are absolutely delighted with the results of their cosmetic surgery and are very pleased with the decisions they have made together with their plastic surgeon.

However, nothing is without risk and it is important you know about the risks of surgery. The risks of any surgery include infection, swelling, bruising, blood clots (both in the legs - DVTs - and at the site being operated - a haematoma), abnormal scarring, damage to surrounding nerves (leading to patches of numbness, hypersensitivity or weakness) and wound healing problems (also known as necrosis). Specific to cosmetic surgery there is the risk of overcorrection, undercorrection, asymmetry and changes with time, pregnancy, breast feeding and weight change. You may also wish secondary revisionary surgery for minor imperfections. Implants, if used, can move, be felt, seen or ripple through the skin particularly in people with very little tissue over the implant. Implants can also harden with time and occasionally the hardness can lead to pain or a change in shape requiring further surgery. More information on breast implants is available at the silicone interface group web site. Eyelid surgery can lead to dry eyes which is more common in certain groups of people. Liposuction can lead to contour irregularities and hypersensitivity around the area being treated.

In breast surgery it is important to know that the surgery itself does not increase the risk of breast cancer. However, the scarring inside the breast can mean that it may be harder to detect early cancers with mammograms and breast examination. The way a lump is treated may also be different in someone who has already had breast cosmetic surgery and it is important to let anyone know, if they are examining or x-raying your breasts, that you have had breast surgery. Following a breast reduction, it may be difficult to subsequently breast feed, though you are strongly encouraged to try and feed your child naturally.

Complications are much more common in smokers and if you are considering cosmetic surgery, you are well advised to stop smoking. Nicotine replacement therapy (eg nicotine patches, nicotine chewing gum, etc) is thought to be just as bad as smoking as a risk factor for developing complications.

Of course, this list is by no means comprehensive and does not, for example, include the complications of simply having an anaesthetic. All our anaesthetists are (or have been) NHS consultants and are on the specialist register for Anaesthesia. They are all highly skilled and trained doctors and will look after you while you are asleep having your operation.

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Glasgow Nuffield Hospital