According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, doctors performed 17.7 million surgical and minimally-invasive cosmetic procedures in 2018 in the U.S. alone. Although many people view plastic surgery as strictly cosmetic, reconstructive procedures are also common, restoring function to specific parts of the body following medical conditions or traumatic injuries. Like any other surgical procedure, however, there are both benefits and side effects of plastic surgery.

Breast Augmentation

The surgery that increases breast size using implants or fat transfer is breast augmentation. Women who seek to increase the fullness of their breasts or create a better aesthetic balance between hip and breast contours choose this procedure. Experts also suggest augmentation surgery to restore breast volume following pregnancy or significant weight loss, and surgeons use implants for breast reconstruction following a mastectomy or injury to the breasts.

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Risks of Breast Augmentation

Most women experience numbness or tingling in the breasts following augmentation. Only about 15 percent of women lose nipple sensation, but many report sensitivity changes following the procedure. Hematomas are the result of abnormal collections of blood under the skin. They may occur during any invasive or surgical procedure, including breast augmentation. Between one and six percent of women who undergo breast augmentation develop hematomas, which look similar to a bruise and can be painful. In some cases, treatment requires additional surgery to drain the blood. Hypertrophic scarring, a thick, raised red scar, occurs in two to five percent of women. Infections are also a possible side effect of plastic surgery.

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A blepharoplasty is a procedure for repairing drooping eyelids. More casual terms for this surgery include “eye lift” or eyelid surgery. The operation usually involves removing excess skin, muscle, or fat that gathers above and below the eyelids as a result of age. However, this type of surgery is not merely cosmetic, even though it does make the eyes appear more alert and youthful. Sagging skin can impair peripheral vision or prevent the eye from opening completely. Blepharoplasty can eliminate or reduce these issues.

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Risks of Blepharoplasty

In some cases, patients report blurred vision following eye lift surgery, but this is usually temporary. The eyes may feel irritated and dry, and there may be noticeable scarring. Physicians report incidents of skin discoloration around the eyes as a result of the surgery, as well as issues opening and closing the eyelids. In rare cases, a patient can lose their eyesight. Some people require follow-up surgery to repair issues incurred during the blepharoplasty procedure.

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Better known as a “tummy tuck” or lower body lift, abdominoplasties involve the surgical removal of excess tissue and fat to flatten and tighten the skin in the abdominal area. Loose skin is a common result of aging and is often hereditary. Tummy tucks are a popular surgery to remove excess skin following pregnancy. Men and women who have undergone bariatric surgery and experienced a great deal of weight loss may also seek out this procedure. Additionally, abdominoplasty surgery restores weakened abdominal muscles that have not improved through exercise or weight-control methods.

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6. Risks of Abdominoplasty

One of the most common side effects of a tummy tuck is fluid accumulation or seroma. This occurs when the blood pools under the skin’s surface, causing painful swelling. Seromas resemble large blisters and the biggest concern is an infection. Medical staff will usually drain the fluid as soon as possible. In some cases, however, there is a chance of recurrence. Other risks associated with tummy tucks are unfavorable scarring and changes in skin sensation in the abdomen and into the thighs. Tissue necrosis can occur when the procedure damages fatty tissue in the abdominal area, or if the tissue dies afterward. This issue is more common among patients who smoke.

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Rhinoplasty and Rhytidectomy

Two of the most sought-after plastic surgeries are those involving facial features. Rhinoplasty or a “nose job” is a corrective procedure that changes the size or shape of the nose or refines certain areas to alter the feature's appearance. Doctors also use this surgery to alleviate issues such as a deviated septum, to improve breathing, or for reconstruction. A facelift or rhytidectomy surgically tightens facial skin to minimize the effects of aging by smoothing out deep lines and reducing sagging skin.

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Side Effects of Rhinoplasty and Rhytidectomy

Some patients report difficulty breathing through the nose following a nose job. Others experience numbness not only around the nose but inside the nose as well. Bruising is possible but usually fades within ten days of the surgery. Patients who undergo facelifts also experience bruising, which may be accompanied by swelling and redness. Other side effects of plastic surgery include facial nerve damage, though this is usually temporary. Any numbness should disappear within a few days, though some report that it continues for a few weeks.

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Additional Side Effects of Plastic Surgery

Other side effects of plastic surgery include infection, internal blood loss, complications from the anesthesia, organ damage, and deep vein thrombosis. These issues depend on the overall health of the patient as well as their age. People who are obese are more prone to complications during and after surgery. Doctors conduct physical exams and testing before a patient undergoes plastic surgery. However, patients should always educate themselves about the procedure and be aware of any risks.

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Improved Self-Confidence as a Result of Plastic Surgery

Millions of people seek out plastic surgery to improve their physical appearance and feel more attractive. Before undergoing plastic surgery, medical professionals conduct a psychological evaluation and ensure the patient has realistic expectations of the outcomes. People with realistic expectations are more likely to experience increased self-confidence and improved mood following their surgeries. For more than four decades, numerous studies have shown most people are happy with the outcomes of their plastic surgery procedures.

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