Tummy Tuck Risk
Dr. Jejurikar commonly performs tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) surgery on patients from Dallas, University Park, Highland Park, Plano, Ft. Worth, Frisco, McKinney, and Allen, Texas. Bad outcomes are very rare, but there are some risks of surgery about which all patients should be educated.
Although very infrequent, it is possible to bleed excessively after Tummy Tuck surgery and require another procedure to stop the bleeding and drain the accumulated blood (hematoma). Some patients also develop a collection of watery fluid called a seroma. A seroma can serve as a significant nuisance postoperatively, and can interfere with the re-draping of the abdominal skin. Seromas are usually treated by repeated aspirations of the fluid over several weeks after surgery; sometimes, they require placement of a drain many weeks after surgery.
A significant amount of skin and fat is removed and rearranged during Tummy Tuck surgery. If the blood flow to a portion of skin or fat is diminished, that tissue can die, leading to problems with normal wound healing. If a pocket of fat dies (fat necrosis), it tends to turn into an orange-yellow fluid and drain from the incision. More significant pockets of dead fat can turn into hard lumps below the skin. Death of the skin can lead to an open wound after surgery. Usually this heals, but it can take several weeks for final healing to occur. If the scar is thick or wide after this, sometimes a secondary scar revision is required. The chances of skin or fat dying are markedly increased if patients are using tobacco products.
Tummy tuck infections, although rare, can occur any time in the first 4 to 6 weeks after surgery.
The incidence of infection can be reduced by washing the abdomen with Hibiclens soap before surgery. Dr. Jejurikar gives his patients detailed instructions on how to perform this the night before and the morning of surgery. He also checks his patients for antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus (MRSA) and treats them for this preoperatively if they are colonized with this organism.
Pulmonary embolism is quite rare, but is the most feared risk after Tummy Tuck surgery. A pulmonary embolism is a blood clot which has broken loose from the veins of the leg or thigh and travels in the bloodstream to the lungs. If a clot travels to the lungs, it can cause serious breathing problems and, in severe cases, can cause death. Pulmonary emboli usually happen within the first 2-3 days of surgery, with the most common symptoms being shortness of breath, a racing heart, and fatigue. The risks of pulmonary embolism are markedly reduced by walking as soon as possible after Tummy Tuck surgery. In addition, anti-embolism compressive devices are placed on all patients during Tummy Tuck surgery, and some patients also receive injectable blood thinners. All of these treatments in combination can help keep the risk of pulmonary embolism to a minimum.
In some patients, the scars end up healing wider or thicker than expected. If this is the case, several months after surgery, a scar revision may be required to allow the incision to heal as a thin, flat and fine line.
Ultimately, all patient’s results are enhanced if they seek treatment with an experienced, board certified plastic surgeon.