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Tummy Tuck - Is It Safe? What Are the Risks and Side Effects?

How safe is a tummy tuck?

Doctor Answers (22)

A tummy tuck is an elective, cosmetic procedure that is...


A tummy tuck is an elective, cosmetic procedure that is done under a general anesthetic and it has a well recognized set of risks associated with it.

The term 'safety' is relative to the individual patient's perspective. In general terms, it is a safe procedure.

The risks of the procedure related to the surgical wound include infection, wound healing problems, fluid collecting underneath the wound (seroma). The cumulative risk of these problems is about 10-15% in a non-smoking patient. These wound issues can be managed by your plastic surgeon post-operatively, and usually will not affect the long term result of the tummy tuck in a substantial way.

The risks of the procedure related to the surgery and the general anesthetic include deep venous thrombosis, pulmonary embolism and anesthetic complications. This is by no means a complete list, but the risk of these complications approaches 1/1000 cases.

For more information on abdominoplasty, take a look at my website which has an article on the topic.

Web reference:

Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 32 reviews

Tummy tuck risks


Hello. Tummy tucks (abdominoplasties) are very commonly performed surgeries with a high satisfaction rate. I have performed over 1000 of these procedures and the patients are among my happiest. This surgery corrects the loose  skin, stretch marks, lax abdominal muscles and excess tummy fat often seen after pregnancy or weight gain/loss and that do not respond well to diet and exercise.

Like any surgical procedure, there are risks associated with tummy tucks. These include infection, blood or fluid collections under the skin, prolonged numbness, poor scars, blood clots etc. However, in healthy  patients with few or no risk factors, this procedure is very safe with a low rate of serious complications. Make sure that your surgeon is a board-certified plastic surgeon with significant experience in this type of surgery and you are likley to have an excellent outcome.

Montreal Plastic Surgeon
1.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

Tummy Tuck (abdominoplasty) pictures, technique, and risks



Tummy Tuck procedues are gnerally safe with a high degreee of patient satisfaction.

There are risks to crossing the street or flying in an airplane and, of course, there are risks to any surgical procedure. These risks can occur regardless of surgeon or technique. These include but are not limited to: infection, hematoma/seroma, discomfort, wound breakdown, hypertrophic scar formation, asymmetry, unfavorable healing, palpable sutures, depressed scars, deep venous thrombosis with/without pulmonary embolism, distortion with muscular contraction, discomfort, numbness, interference with subsequent surgical procedures, need for secondary surgical revisions, and inabiltity to guarantee a specific cosmetic result.

Web reference:

Chicago Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 39 reviews

A tummy tuck is a safe procedure IF it is performed on a...


A tummy tuck is a safe procedure IF it is performed on a healthy non-obese patient and is performed by an American Board of Plastic Surgery certified surgeon who performs the surgery frequently.

The most significant complications that can occur from a tummy tuck are fluid collections in the wound after your drain is removed and blood clots in the veins. The first of these is a nuisance problem that resolves with drawing out the fluid with syringes. The second problem, namely blood clots in the veins, is a serious and potentially life threatening complication. Many measures can be taken to minimize the risk including stopping hormone replacement therapies preop, using compression stockings and pneumatic pumps during surgery, and insisting on early ambulation postoperatively. With these measures, blood clots are rare.

All in all, tummy tucks are great surgeries for the properly selected patient!

Seattle Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 44 reviews

Tummy tucks are safe and satisfying procedures.


A tummy tuck is a very safe procedure. I will admit that most patients feel it is a painful procedure, especially if the muscles have to get repaired.

The biggest risks, in my opinion, of the procedure are:

  • bleeding
  • infection
  • wound healing problems
  • post-op fluid collections
  • blood clots in the legs (deep vein thrombosis (DVT))
  • clots being thrown to the lungs (pulmonary embolism)

The risks of all these problems are usually less than 5-8%.

When I perform a tummy tuck, I typically give my patients extra IV fluids in the pre-op area before surgery and put anti-embolism stockings on their legs to massage the veins in the legs while they are asleep. To this I add early post-op walking to minimizing clot potential.

Finally, most surgeons put their patients in an abdominal binder, at least, to help with compression and pain control. I only have my patients wear their binders when walking around. I think that binders squeeze too tightly on the tummy and put pressure on leg veins when in the sitting position.

Good attention to preventing bleeding during surgery can help reduce the risk of post-op bleeding problems (hematoma) and fluid collections (seroma). A skin closure that is just tight enough, and good nutrition, can keep wound healing problems down.

I hope this helps answer your question.

Web reference:

Denver Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

Tummy tuck safety


Thank you for your question.  In the appropriate patient, a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) is a great, safe operation.  An abdominoplasty can tighten/flatten the abdomen, narrow the waist, and remove excess skin and fat.  The appropriate tummy tuck candidate should be near their ideal weight, engage in a healthy diet and exercise regimen, and have a treatable deformity.

Typical risks include bleeding, infection, scarring, wound breakdown,  and seroma.  Heavier patients and larger skin excisions have a higher rate of seromas and wound separation.  Infections are infrequent in healthy patients.  Bleeding is a risk of any operation and I encourage my patients to limit their activity, use a stool softener, and keep their nausea under control.  In most patients,, the scar is acceptable as long as it is kept low enough.  Scarring can be unpredictable in some patients and there is a small possibility of needing a scar revision.   

In an uneventful surgery, the side effects should be minimal.  Of course there will be a scar, but that is the cost of removing the loose, stretched out skin.  Make sure you see a board certified plastic surgeon to get all of you questions answered.  Good luck!

Fort Worth Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Risks associated with tummy tuck procedures include:


As with any surgical procedure, there are certain risks involved with having a tummy tuck. Risks associated with this procedure include:

  • Necrosis (death of living cells and tissue)
  • Seroma (an accumulation of clear fluid in the body after surgery)
  • Haematoma (the formation of a blood clot under the skin)
  • Infections
  • Opening of the wound
  • Delayed wound healing
  • Visual flaws that may result in the need for secondary correction
  • Possible permanent numbness in the lower abdominal skin
  • Leg clots

The incidence of these types of risks increase in obese individuals, and for this reason, they are generally encouraged to lose as much weight as possible before having a tummy tuck.

Despite these risks, reports indicate that the majority of tummy tucks that are performed lead to excellent results with only a small number of individuals experiencing serious complications. It is important to know the risks that are associated with any type of surgical procedure, but a tummy tuck is not considered to be a life-threating or unsafe technique. Your doctor can also discuss the safety and potential risks of this procedure with you.

New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Tummy Tuck Is A Safe Surgical Procedure-But IT IS Still Surgery!


Just as any surgical procedure, a tummy tuck, has certain possible complications associated with it. Every surgical has possible complications such as infection, bleeding post operatively, scarring, etc... But each surgical procedure has unique possible complications associated with it. The best way to find out all the pertinent possible complications associated with a tummy tuck is to seek the advice and consult with a board certified plastic surgeon. The good news is that overall, a tummy tuck is a safe predictable surgical procedure.

Web reference:

Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 22 reviews

Safety of tummy tuck surgery in Los Angeles


the safety of tummy tuck surgery depends primarily on the medical condition of a patient. Morbid obesity and uncontrollable diabetes, hypertension, and other medical conditions significantly increase risk of tummy tuck surgery.

Web reference:

Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 23 reviews

Tummy tuck is generally a very safe surgery


Tummy tuck is generally a very safe surgery, but there are always risks associated with any procedure, and tummy tuck is no exception. However, you can increase your chances of having a safe and satisfying procedure by choosing a plastic surgeon who is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. This ensures that he or she has had many years of in-depth plastic surgery training and has passed a series of qualifying examinations. Board-certified plastic surgeons are also held to strict standards of ethical conduct to ensure proper and professional behavior.
Common side effects of tummy tuck usually include bruising, swelling, and soreness. You will probably be asked to avoid strenuous exercise for about 6 weeks and should expect to take 1 to 2 weeks off work for recovery. Once you have completely healed, however, you will enjoy a flatter, firmer abdomen and improved body contour. Good luck!

San Ramon Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.

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