The top 5 risks of cosmetic surgery: Is it worth it?

In today’s world of groundbreaking research and technology, there are thousands of cosmetic surgical procedures that are intended to pull, tighten, reduce or enlarge practically any human body part.

Mainstream medicine promotes these “simple” procedures on billboards and television, in magazines and all over the Internet. However, any surgical operation comes with major risks. These risks may or may not be explained to you prior to the procedure. That is why you must understand the health repercussions and determine whether these elective cosmetic procedures are worth your life.

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According to the Mayo Clinic, these five risks are the most common when going under the knife for cosmetic surgery:

  • Infection: When your body is cut open, of course it leaves a scar. But that is the least of your worries. The incision site is at risk of infection from airborne bacteria or other parasites that could have been present during surgery. You could get an infection because the medical staff didn’t properly sterilize their hands, use sterile gloves or properly close the incision site. Once infected, you may be instructed to take antibiotics to treat the infection. These antibiotics can wreak havoc on your digestive system and ultimately leave you open to further infections. It starts a vicious cycle.
  • Hemorrhage: There are thousands of medications that could complicate cosmetic surgery and lead to hemorrhaging, or bleeding, during and after the procedure, according to Arthur Perry, M.D. Perry is a cosmetic surgeon and author of Straight Talk About Cosmetic Surgery. As a patient, you should explain what medications you are taking and find out from your doctor if there could be complications. The risk of bleeding is highest on the day of and day after surgery, so be prepared to rest and relax during the recovery time period.
  • Necrosis: You could also have a complication known as necrosis, where the skin “dies” because of lack of blood flow to the affected area. This risk is highest among those who smoke, since nicotine reduces the blood flow and damages the capillaries. When this happens, it means a longer recovery time. You may have more doctor visits in order to change the gauze dressings to allow the skin to heal properly. In more severe cases, the area may not ever fully recover.
  • Anesthesia: Depending on which procedure you may have, you could be given a local anesthetic, which is localized to a small area. If so, you will still be awake and conscious. Or you could be given full sedation and be unconscious during the entire surgery. Both carry risks that you should consider. Complications from anesthesia include: nausea, vomiting, respiratory failure, heart failure, coma and even death. As with the risks of bleeding, smokers are more at risk for these complications when under sedation.
  • Paralysis: During surgery, your muscles and nerves are stretched and pulled abnormally, which could result in major paralysis. Often, nerves and muscles are cut or cauterized in order to achieve the final result in cases of breast implants, breast reduction, facelift and eyelid surgery. Although you may have intentions of improving your appearance, you may end up with paralysis and not be able to open your eyes or mouth normally. Once the muscles are impaired, it may take physical therapy or additional reconstructive surgery to repair the damage.

Cosmetic surgery is elective. If you do decide to go under the knife, make sure you research the risks. Also, evaluate your doctor, his medical practice and any history of medical malpractice associated with his license. This goes for his staff and anesthesiologist, too. Make sure all professionals check out and do not have a history of further complicating surgery and recovery due to lack of training or education.


Peyton Kennedy

By Peyton Kennedy

Peyton Kennedy graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communications from Auburn University. Her varied experience includes journalism, marketing, public relations and social media. She currently lives in Birmingham, Ala., with her husband Tom and dog Mosby. In her spare time, Kennedy enjoys movies, reading and Auburn football.