Let's Talk About Plastic Surgery Risks

The general risks of plastic surgery are bleeding, infection, asymmetry, seroma (fluid build-up), and imperfect scarring. Specific procedures may have other additional risks.

Okay, the risks. Let’s hear ‘em. 

Dr. Michelle Roughton, board-certified plastic surgeon of Amelia Aesthetics, and a trusted contributor in the Bustmob Community gave us a breakdown of the general risks of plastic surgery.

So let’s talk about what to expect so you can feel confident making the right choice for you.

All surgery comes with risks and benefits and cosmetic plastic surgery is no different. 

Here are the general risks of any plastic surgery procedure:

  • Bleeding 
  • Infection
  • Seroma
  • Asymmetry 
  • Imperfect scaring 

Each procedure (mommy makeover, tummy tuck, liposuction, and breast augmentation) will have varying degrees of these risks. Learn more about each of these procedures in the free Bustmob Academy app

Bleeding can happen, but it’s rare.

With any surgery that involves cutting the skin, cosmetic procedure or not, there is a risk of bleeding. Some plastic surgery procedures have a higher risk of bleeding than others, those being procedures involving a foreign body such as a breast implant. 

Normally when tissues collapse together things like platelets and fibrin come together to tell the body, “hey, stop bleeding.”

However, when a foreign body such as a breast implant is in the way, the cells can’t do their thing to stop the bleeding like they normally would. 

It’s worth noting that the risk of bleeding during a plastic surgery procedure is still small.

Around the breast implant has the highest risk of bleeding at about 1%, with the risk decreasing significantly in other parts of the body. 

Let’s talk about infection.

With any foreign body, there is a risk of infection and the breast implant is indeed a foreign body. However, the risk of infection from a breast implant is extremely low, so don’t stress out.

According to this study, the risk of infection for breast augmentation with breast implants is 0.38%*.

Asymmetrical, but not abstract. 

The truth is all bodies are naturally asymmetrical with or without plastic surgery and that seems to be a good thing.

Have you ever seen photos of celebrity faces edited to be perfectly symmetrical? It isn’t exactly an improvement. For most of us, a little asymmetry is what makes us beautiful. 

That being said, our bodies even after surgery will be asymmetrical because they start that way.

That doesn’t mean you won’t love your results. It’s just if you’re in the mirror searching for asymmetry, you’re going to find it. 

The Bustmob GoalFinder is a great resource for seeing real plastic surgery results on real women. Search by procedure and patient stats like height and weight to see what the plastic surgery procedure you’re interested in looks like on a body type similar to yours. 

Chances are you’ll see the beautiful result over any asymmetry, but go check it out for yourself!

Mommy makeover after photo, full tummy tuck + 385cc breast implants
Mommy makeover (full tummy tuck + breast implants) by Dr. Michelle Roughton of Amelia Aesthetics Raleigh

What is a seroma?

A seroma is when fluid builds up under the skin. It’s more likely to happen with a tummy tuck than with other procedures, though it is rare overall.

A seroma isn’t a medical emergency and is highly treatable. A seroma won’t ruin your final results and it won’t last forever.

Keep in mind that swelling after a tummy tuck is completely normal and isn’t a seroma. To learn more about tummy tuck recovery watch the tummy tuck series in the Bustmob Academy app

Scars happen.

There is no such thing as “scarless surgery.” Although most plastic surgery scars heal beautifully and are for many women hardly noticeable when hopping out of the shower, there are occasions when a scar doesn’t heal perfectly.

This could be a scar or incision that doesn’t lay perfectly flat or is a bit raised. Imperfect scarring in some cases can be corrected with scar revision surgery.

Keep in mind that scars take a full 12 months to completely heal. So after-photos taken at 3 months post-op aren’t the end result for those scars.

Scars will continue to heal, lighten, and fade for up to 12 months when cared for properly. 

Scar Care

Each plastic surgeon will have their own protocols when it comes to scars. At Amelia Aesthetics, they recommend keeping scar tape on for 6 weeks after surgery, changing the original tape at the 3-week mark. 

After 6 weeks, many patients are cleared to remove the tape and begin applying scar salve or serum twice daily for the first year.

They also recommend keeping those scars out of direct sun exposure for up to 12 months. If you are hanging at the beach or enjoying a spring picnic, be sure to keep those scars covered with clothing and sunscreen.

Learn more about specific incisions and scarring for procedures like breast augmentation, tummy tuck, liposuction, and mommy makeovers in the free Bustmob Academy app

Different surgeries have different risks.

You’ll go over your specific risks based on your anatomy, medical history, and the procedure you’re interested in during your consultation. 

In your one-on-one consultation with your plastic surgeon, you’ll have the opportunity to not only discuss your aesthetic goals, but they will give you your benefits and risks based on your physical exam and your medical history. 

This is an open time to ask questions and express any concerns so you can feel empowered that you are making a safe and informed choice for yourself. 

Found this helpful, but want more? 

Good news! This is just one of hundreds of fun, factual videos on the Bustmob Academy app to make your plastic surgery research easy.

From commonly told myths and FAQs, to recovery time and costs, Jenny Eden, founder of Bustmob, and Gretta Nance, lead educator at Amelia Aesthetics, break down your plastic surgery research into bite-size, bingeable pieces. 

*Mesa F, Cataño S, Tuberquia O. Study of Infections in Breast Augmentation Surgery with Implants in 9,691 Patients over 5 Years. Plast Reconstr Surg Glob Open. 2021 Aug 10;9(8):e3752. doi: 10.1097/GOX.0000000000003752. PMID: 34386312; PMCID: PMC8354627.

Ready to learn everything about plastic surgery?

The free Bustmob Academy app is the perfect place to learn everything about the procedure you're considering.

Download App
Jenny Eden
Founder, Bustmob Community
Dr. Michelle Roughton
Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon
Ready to learn everything about plastic surgery?
Download Bustmob Academy