Understanding the Risks and Complications of Surgery

It is important to understand the risks of surgery and what you can do to minimise or prevent them. Its also important to understand that some complications and surgery risks can occur randomly, despite having chosen the best surgeon, top hospital and best practice procedure and wound care.

Risks of Surgery

All surgery carries risk, plastic surgery is no different. These risks include:

  • General Anaesthesia Risks

    • Prior to surgery, you will be given the details of your anaesthetist.
    • This will allow you to discuss any specific concerns you may have.
    • Most healthy patients respond well to general anaesthesia.
  • Bleeding (Hematoma)

    • Sometimes following surgery, a collection of blood may pool at the surgical site.
    • Should this occur, a visit to the operating theatre may be necessary to remove the hematoma or other potential bleeding problems.
  • Fluid Build-Up (Seroma)

  • Infection

    • Should an infection develop following surgery, your surgeon will prescribe antibiotics as appropriate and monitor your progress closely.
  • Delayed Wound Healing

    • This is often more likely in patients who are overweight, have underlying health conditions such as diabetes, or who don’t follow good nutrition.
    • It is also found in smokers, or where an infection develops.
    • Your surgeon and nurse coordinator will manage the healing process.
    • They will be able to take the necessary steps if delayed wound healing occurs.
  • Scarring

    • All surgery leaves a scar, and plastic surgery is no different.
    • To minimise scarring for some procedures but not all, Fraxel Laser scar treatments following surgery may be an option.

More Serious and Life-Threatening Risks

Deep Vein Thrombosis

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a serious condition. It can occur when a blood cot occurs in a vein located deep inside the body, typically in the thigh or lower leg. It is important to inform your surgeon right away if you suspect you are experiencing symptoms of DVT so appropriate medications and therapies can be prescribed immediately.

There are some additional risks from having surgery that may apply to certain patients. Risks and potential complications have higher risks rates due to:

  • Genetics
  • Obesity or overweight/high BMI which can also increase your risks
  • Underlying health conditions, allergies or sensitivities
  • Substance use or lifestyle factors like smoking or bacteria-laden environments or improper wound care
  • Smoking, which can cause higher complication risks at all stages of your procedures

Smoking and Surgical Risks

Your overall health will impact your healing processes, including your inflammation levels. However, smoking is one of the greatest risk factors when it comes to plastic surgery. Smoking interferes with your health as well as your skin health and its healing capacities. Furthermore, it is recommended that you are open with your surgeon regarding your smoking habits, even if you are a closet or social smoker. It is generally recommended you do not pursue surgery until you have quit smoking for an extended period of time. You must NOT Smoke after surgery for at least 4 to 6 weeks to allow the wound to heal properly.

Breast Surgery Risks

Breast procedures come with their own particular complications. Common side effects of breast surgery include discomfort, skin sensation changes, bruising and swelling. Most resolve over a period of weeks but skin sensations changes can last longer. More serious breast surgery risks can include:

  • Changes to Nipple sensitivity. You may lose nipple sensation permanently; however, this is very rare.
    • Most patients lose nipple sensation temporarily and as nerve endings start to re-connect underneath the skin, sensations will return to the area.
  • Nipple Loss/Necrosis is a rare complication that occurs often in smokers. It may affect all or part of the nipple.
  • Your ability to breastfeed may also be affected
  • Allergies to tape, suture materials and glues, blood products, topical preparations or injected agents
  • Poor scarring, including keloid scarring (more common in patients with higher skin pigmentation/darker skin)
  • Breast implant issues if you have a breast lift with an augmentation using breast implants (skin wrinkling, implant rupture)
  • Capsular contracture if having a combined breast lift with augmentation
  • Asymmetry (uneven breasts or nipples)
  • A risk of BIA-ALCL – a rare type of lymphoma associated with textured breast implants

Dr Sackelariou will cover your surgical risks and potential complications in detail during your consultation as part of the informed consent process.


About Dr Richard Sackelariou Plastic Surgeon

Dr Richard Sackelariou MBBS FRACS(Plas) is a Specialist Plastic, Cosmetic and Reconstructive  Surgeon in Melbourne, Victoria and Sydney, Australia.

Dr Sackelariou is a highly sought-after Plastic Surgeon for precision procedures like nose reshaping, tummy tucks, breast surgery including transaxillary incision methods, implant removal/replacement and Breast Lift procedures.

He is particularly known for his signature surgeries – neck lift, facelift and eyelid rejuvenation procedures. He also performs expert cosmetic injections for facial rejuvenation.

Patients love his caring manner, his dedication to excellence and his extensive expertise in surgical planning for a natural-looking, harmonious result.

What’s Next

Book a Consultation with Dr Sackelariou in Melbourne or Sydney. A caring discussion with a Plastic Surgeon about all your options can really help. The best thing is to start with a phone enquiry and consider having a Consultation with Dr Sackelariou. Try the Free Nose Simulation Tool.


If you are considering cosmetic plastic surgery then Dr Richard Sackelariou is the specialist plastic surgeon for you.

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Dr Sackelariou can assist you in achieving your desired body image, helping restore you to a more youthful and confident self.

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