• The hidden risks associated with cosmetic surgery
  • Alison Morgan
The hidden risks associated with cosmetic surgery

Cosmetic surgery is something that is pretty common nowadays - after all we have programs like Extreme Makeover which are beaming procedures like breast augmentation and other surgical procedures directly into our lounge rooms via our televisions. Most of us know someone who has had a nose job or a breast augmentation, and there are even companies that arrange for surgery tourism to places like Thailand where you can get a surgical procedure done on the cheap while enjoying the sun and tropical air. There are some companies that are less reputable than others - like The Cosmetic Institute - because amid the rosy picture that these kind of companies paint through their Instagram and marketing, surgery is surgery, and it comes with risks. The only difference with something like an elective cosmetic procedure is that patients usually start out being relatively healthy.

There are plenty of cases in which people who are completely healthy have gone in for surgery and died on the operating table - take for example Kanye West’s mother who went in for a routine nip/tuck procedure and then went into full cardiac arrest on the operating table and sadly passed away after a failure to resuscitate. This is one of the more common risks associated with plastic surgery, and although it can be linked to age, there are a number of other surgical risks associated with plastic surgery that I wanted to discuss here – some of them less well known, as well.


An instance of temporary numbness or loss of feeling at the site of the incision is fairly common in the case of face lifts and stomach tucks - although in most cases, it’s rarely going to be a permanent thing.

Undergoing numbness after breast surgery is one of the most common type of a loss of sensation after surgery. A loss of sensation in the nipple - in particular - can occur anywhere from up to 10 to 70% of the time, and in most situations, this is in the case of the breast reductions, where the areola of the nipple is completely removed and then reattached in time as a different skin graft. This can be a difficult thing to undergo, given the overall sensitivity of the area and it’s something that prospective surgery candidates need to be aware of.


This is when there is a collection of watery bodily fluids following a surgical procedure and it occurs most of the time in tummy tucks. It’s actually a common enough occurrence in most surgical procedures that surgeons take a preventative measure by inserting a drain during tummy tuck surgery.

Tissue Death

Tissue death can occur during surgery from surgical manipulation, and this is called necrosis.This is an inevitable part of any surgery, and the risk of necrosis is increased dramatically if you’re a smoker. This is because smoking affects the blood supply to tissue which in turn affects the ability of the body to renew cells. As it happens, when surgeons cut into tissue that already has compromised blood supply, necrosis is more likely to occur.

Excessive bleeding

After any surgery, you’ll find that there is the possibility of excessive bleeding. It’s a rare complication, but it’s still possible. You can speak to your surgeon about all of the possible surgical complications including excessive bleeding.


This is the rarest and of course the most feared of all the side effects of surgery, and it’s ultimately a distant concern but still something that patients need to be aware of. Toxic levels of anaesthetics can contribute to respiratory failure in some patients and in others, high levels of topical lidocaine can lead to death.

You can manage the risks of getting elective cosmetic surgery by ensuring that you have a reputable surgeon who you are able to discuss all of the potential risks and complications with you openly. Make sure that you do your research and that you check and double check everything.

  • Alison Morgan