Abdominal Surgery: The risks involved 

WHAT ARE THE LIMITATIONS, RISKS AND POTENTIAL COMPLICATIONS OF ABDOMINOPLASTY?

The following information is provided to fully inform you about Abdominoplasty. Serious complications following Abdominoplasty are uncommon and your experience is likely to be a positive one.

Haematoma

Haematoma, collection of blood and fluid under the abdominal skin occasionally occurs in the first few hours after surgery. If this occurs we return to the theatre and remove this fluid under anaesthesia.

Seroma

A collection of clear fluid under the skin of the tummy can occur. The drain tubes may deal with this or it may occur after you have returned home. If it occurs I may have to drain this fluid away for you. This can be done without causing pain. It normally becomes evident 2-3 weeks after surgery.

Infection

Infection is uncommon but can occur. If you have ever had irritation or infection in the fold of skin on your lower abdomen you will understand this is a potential site for bacteria to accumulate. We give you antibiotics during your procedure to minimise this risk. In most instances infections are minor and respond promptly to antibiotic capsules and simple dressing. Very serious infections can rarely occur after this procedure. In very rare instances life threatening infections have been reported. If this was ever to occur my first priority is to protect your life. Further surgery is likely to be required and very prolonged hospitalisation would be required. Deaths have been reported after Abdominoplasty.

Delayed Healing

Delayed healing is sometimes a problem when it occurs it usually occurs along the new suture line. If this occurs rather than the wounds being totally healed at 10-14 days you may require dressings for a longer period.
Loss of sensation in the skin of your abdomen occurs commonly in the first few weeks following the procedure. It will slowly improve over months in most cases. In rare cases permanent loss of skin sensation can occur.

Scars

Abdominoplasty involves extensive incisions all of which heal by formation of scars. In most cases the scars settle with time to be acceptable to the patient. A small number of people form bad scars (either hypertrophic or keloid). If you have any history of forming bad scars or your family members have exhibited this tendency then Abdominoplasty is not an operation for you. Think very carefully about how you feel about scars on your tummy and around your belly button. If you are distressed by this thought you should not contemplate Abdominoplasty surgery.

Asymmetry

It is normal for your abdomen to exhibit slight differences from side to side. This is universal prior to surgery and some variation is normal after surgery. Your umbilicus (belly button) may not be exactly in the middle of your abdomen following surgery. This can occur due to unpredictable stretching of the remaining tummy tissues in the healing phase after surgery.

Lumps or contour deformities

Sometimes lumps appear in fat tissue of your tummy (fat necrosis) or contour depressions can be seen. This is the commonest problem after liposuction which will commonly be used to maximise the outcome of surgery. This represents part of the spectrum of healing of the subcutaneous tissue. These often resolve by themselves over some months following surgery but potentially some contour deformities may persist and may require revision such as fat grafting in rare cases.

Skin necrosis (skin dieback)

This can occur during the healing phase after abdominoplasty. It is rare. It is more likely in some people who have previous scars on their tummy. In these people the procedure may need to be modified to allow for this risk. If for any reason the blood supply to an area of skin is damaged this skin can dieback. If this occurs healing will be delayed and further surgery may be required. This may relate to the Abdominoplasty itself or to an area of liposuction which is included to maximise the effect of the Abdominoplasty procedure.

Umbilical necrosis

It is possible for the umbilicus to dieback after abdominoplasty. I have never seen this occur so it is rare. The umbilicus is left attached to the tummy wall at its base during the procedure and if this blood supply is not sufficient to sustain the belly button tissue it may dieback. If this occurs healing will be delayed. Further surgery may be required. You may not have a recognisable belly button going forward. This complication is rare.

Long term results

Your abdomen will continue to change as you progress through life. Your tummywill enlarge again in the event of further pregnancy, change in size and shape with significant changes in your weight and as you get older they will show all the changes of ageing.

To get further information or to make an appointment to get the best treatment for abdominal surgery contact Dr James Burt's rooms in Malvern, Melbourne.

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