Complications and risks associated with tummy tuck plastic surgery can be frightening. When you read all the horror stories associated with “Tummy Tucks”, it’s enough to scare you off of having the operation. You have to decide which you fear most, having the operation or going through the rest of your life the way you are.

Thousands are performed successfully each year. When done by a board certified, qualified and experienced surgeon who is trained in body contouring plastic surgery, the results are generally quite positive. However, there are always risks associated with any surgery including specific complications associated with this procedure.

Risks Associated With Tummy Tucks

  1. Death
  2. Lung problems
  3. Anesthesia reactions/Bad reaction to anesthesia
  4. Blood clots
  5. Infection
  6. Delayed wound healing
  7. Unfavorable drug reactions
  8. Skin tissue death (necrosis)
  9. Bleeding
  10. Aspiration pneumonia
  11. Unplanned hospital admission
  12. Collection of blood under the skin (Seroma)
  13. Poor healing and excess scarring
  14. Permanent numbness of the abdomen

With the advancement of techniques and medical technologies in the plastic surgery industry, these risks are becoming increasingly rare. By doing your homework to find a qualified plastic surgeon, the right facility and following your surgeons instructions you minimize risks and complications. Another good way to minimize risks after surgery is to only resume physical activity per your doctors instructions.

Tummy Tuck Complications

Medical Complication – In medicine, is an unfavorable evolution of a disease, a health condition or a medical treatment. The disease can become worse in its severity or show a higher number of signs, symptoms or new pathological changes, become widespread throughout the body or affect other organ systems.

Overall, abdominoplasty is considered a relatively safe operation with complications being restricted mainly to discomfort. But you never know.

Questions (FAQs)

  1. How safe is a Tummy Tuck?
    According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), it was one of the top five surgical procedures cosmetic procedures in 2005 with 169,314 procedures performed, up 12 percent from 2004. No surgery is without risk. Ask your surgeon to explain all of the side effects and possible risks prior to surgery.
  2. How many people die from a Tummy Tuck? After having searched for over two hours I could not find definitive answers to these questions. What I did find is as follows:
    “The greatest risk for people undergoing elective surgery derives from the anesthesia, which is estimated to kill 1 in 10,000 to 100,000 people.
    “Perfectly well patients die under anesthesia for reasons unknown”
    “According to ABC News, 200 people die every year from plastic surgery complications”
    “My surgeon told me that approx. one in 5000 people die from going under anesthesia.
  3. Is it safe to have a tummy tuck performed in the doctor’s office?
    New York, NY (July 12, 2007) – The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) announced today that ambulatory abdominoplasty may be safely and effectively performed at an accredited outpatient surgery facility. Findings from a retrospective analysis of outpatient abdominoplasty procedures performed over the past ten years are published in the May/June 2007 issue of the Aesthetic Surgery Journal (ASJ), the Societys official peer-reviewed journal. According to ASAPS data, abdominoplasty is one of the top five cosmetic surgical procedures performed in the United States, with approximately 172,500 performed in 2006, compared with just 34,000 in 1997.“Even though these procedures are commonly performed on an outpatient basis, we had few large, published studies to support outpatient abdominoplasty as a safe and effective operation,” said W. Grant Stevens, MD, lead author of the study. “This large, long-term study clearly illustrates that these procedures may be safely performed in an accredited outpatient facility.”The study consisted of a retrospective review of 519 consecutive abdominoplasty procedures performed over 10 years at a single outpatient surgery facility certified by the American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities. All procedures were performed by one of two senior surgeons, and all patients received general anesthesia administered by a board-certified anesthesiologist. The outpatient complication rates in this outpatient study, including seroma (10.6%) and unacceptable abdominal or umbilical scars (7.9%), compared favorably with previously published complication rates for inpatient procedures. The authors cautioned, however, that although outpatient abdominoplasty is safe and effective, proper follow-up care is imperative, and patients need to have responsible caretakers stay with them after surgery. source:

Feedback Messages

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Surgical Drains Complication

August 20, 2010
After 6 years of having a tt operation, my mother,67, is experiencing severe complications: not eating regularly, losing weight, chronic constipation pain, * especially on the right side of her stomach where the drainage tubes were placed(stabbing, movement, burning, bloating, pain). What can be done to ease her pains and who should she seek help from at this point?. we have taken her to every doctor possible…  Juliann

Response – Juliann, Sorry to hear about your mother’s problems. I have never heard of anyone having complications from a tt operation 6 years later. You state that you have taken her to every doctor possible. What do they say? Do they think it is related to the surgical drains or a complication from the tummy tuck? Or do they think it is something else? The only thing that I can advise you to do is keep trying different doctors. There has to be someone out there who can figure it out. Good luck. Tanner


August 15, 2010
Hello: It’s been 2 months since my abdominalplasty with lipo. When I wake up in the morning my stomach is flat but throughout the day every time I eat my stomach blows up. Is this normal? I feel like I look pregnant all over again. I know I still have a little swelling but I didn’t think this would happen with a bowl of oatmeal. I hope nothing’s wrong. Please advise.

Response – Rika, When you say your stomach “blows up”, can you actually see a difference when looking in the mirror (before and after eating) or is it just a feeling of being bloated? I can sort of relate to what you feel. I remember soon after my tummy tuck I noticed that I seemed to get fuller much faster when I ate. I took this as a good thing and assumed that since my skin and stomach muscles were “tighter”, my stomach did not have as much room to expand when I ate. It also served as a reminder and incentive not to eat too much. Every time I got that feeling I would think “I don’t want to overeat and cause my skin to stretch again or pull at the stomach stitches”. Even today, over two years later I get that same feeling. If it’s not just a feeling of being too full and you can actually see bloating and swelling every time you eat it might be time to go back to the doctor to check it out. Good luck. Tanner

Replay – Thx. I go see my doc on Wednesday. I don’t feel bloated. I can actually see it. Is this a complication? Rika

Response – I have never heard of anyone having that problem in relation to a tummy tuck, but I don’t know if it is a complication or not. Tanner