Mommy Makeover Complications

What are the most common complications seen with mommy makeover? Exactly how common is it to have complications from a mommy makeover?


Doctor Answers 28

What complications are possible with a Mommy Makeover?

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Hi there-

As Dr. Aldea has stated, the complications possible would largely depend on the individual procedures in your mommy makeover, as some consist of breast lift with tummy tuck, while others are breast augmentation with liposuction, etc...

Having said that, I can tell you that the risks across all Mommy Makeover patients is very low ( I cannot remember the last time I had a patient experience a complication that required anything but a little time to resolve on it's own- and now I'm knocking on some wood...). If you are a healthy person and have a healthy diet and lifestyle, and you are good about following postoperative instructions, your risk should be low.

The best way to understand the risks particular to your situation would be to visit with a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon for a consultation. Here's a little help finding one you can trust:

In a previous entry, I described how common it is for patients who contact my Orlando plastic surgery center to make the mistake of thinking that:

Anyone offering a plastic surgery procedure MUST be appropriately trained and certified to perform that procedure; this is, unfortunately, not the case.

All plastic surgery training is equal, and so shopping for the best price is the best way to choose a surgeon

In that previous entry, I explained how not all people offering plastic surgery are Board Certified Plastic Surgeons, and in fact, many are not even plastic surgeons! There are now many doctors in other specialties offering to perform plastic surgery procedures without the benefit of the years of training a plastic surgeon receives, convincing their patients that a few weeks of training is sufficient for them to learn what we learn in YEARS.

I explained the potentially dangerous error of choosing based on price.

Finally, I explained how to properly choose not only a surgeon, but also the importance of choosing the facility in which the procedure will be performed and also the anesthesia provider.

For today's entry, we'll assume a healthy understanding of these issues. Having done your homework, and ascertained that the surgeons you are considering are all plastic surgeons Board Certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery, the facilities in which they operate are all certified by the AAAASF or JCAHO, and the anesthesia providers are all well-qualified, how do you make the final decision?

Here are my recommendations:

Consider the relative quality of the surgeon's medical school educations. While it is true that most medical educations will cover the basics, there is a reason that some institutions grow international reputations and perpetually fight for the best students.

A medical school education among these "Best and Brightest" students and educators could reasonably be expected to produce (and historically has produced) America's finest doctors and surgeons. Ranking lists of medical schools take these things into consideration and are a useful resource. The most respected list, from US News and World Report, can be found here:

Find out where the surgeon completed his/her Plastic Surgery Residency. This is the critical and years long process of going from a medical student to a qualified plastic surgeon, where we learn to do plastic surgery by gradually taking on more responsibility under the watchful eyes of other, already trained and experienced surgeons. Just like medical schools, not all training programs are equal in the breadth, intensity and quality of training offered.

Generally speaking, those programs associated with the best medical schools also provide the best training, as they will be able to attract and retain the best, most experienced and reputable professors of plastic surgery- and the quality of our training will depend on the quality of those training us. For example, I completed my own Plastic Surgery training at Washington University in St. Louis, one of the top 5 medical schools in the United States- and it also happens to be the birthplace of American Plastic Surgery.

It bears repeating that you should be absolutely sure that the surgeon you are considering is Board Certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery. This is easily done at the Board's site:

Know that surgeons who claim to be "Board Eligible" in plastic surgery are NOT board certified. This may be because they simply have not taken the examinations- but this is doubtfully the true explanation, as The American Board of Plastic Surgery specifically prohibits claiming ANY status with The Board until and unless you have passed all examinations. Much more likely is that they were unable to pass the examinations (or simply never took them), but realize they may lose patients if they don't find a way to fool them into thinking they have status with The Board. Are you starting so understand that not all doctors have integrity?

Spend some time thinking about the interactions you have had with the surgeon and his/her staff. You should realize that having a plastic surgery procedure is NOT a singular interaction, like buying a new handbag, in which once the bag is purchased (or the surgery completed) the interaction can be considered to be complete. Rather, you are choosing to enter into a very important relationship with your surgeon, the critical portions of which should be expected to last at least a few months beyond the date of your surgery, as you recover and heal. This very important relationship should therefore be approached with the same care you would give any other... think about whether you think the surgeon will be responsive to your needs and concerns, whether your personalities will allow healthy interaction, the approachability of his/her staff, etc...

Remember- you don't only want to have achieved a great outcome when all is said and done... you want to have had an uplifting and positive experience you can look back on and smile! You can have this in the best practices.

Finally, never forget that what you are really looking for is the very best OUTCOME you can achieve. Sometimes when I'm asked by friends and family how to sort through all the claims some surgeons make of being the best choice because they (the surgeon in question) were voted "the best" by some magazine, or because the surgeon simply says they are "the best", I am reminded of the first Clinton presidential campaign, in which the slogan "It's the economy, stupid" helped Mr. Clinton win the White House. Once you've done the homework outlined above, it's all about the OUTCOME...

Ask to see photos of the surgeon's previous work- and ask yourself if you would be pleased if you looked like the photos they show you. Think about how many good photos they show you. Do most of the outcomes just look funny, with only a few that you think are attractive and natural, or are all of their results pleasing and attractive, even if every one may not be what you specifically want? If the surgeon can't show you at least a few outcomes you find attractive and pleasing, you should look elsewhere.

Be sure to ask directly whether the photos you are being shown are the surgeon's own work (believe it or not, some actually do try to attract patients by showing them the work of others!)

I also always recommend communicating with a few of the surgeon's prior patients who have had the same procedure they are recommending for you. You can ask the surgeon's staff for a list of patients who may have agreed to be called, or find testimonials online at one of the many plastic surgery websites now available. My favorite, because it is objective, free (surgeons cannot pay to be listed higher, so more credibility exists), and allows you to get a feel for the surgeon's manner and personality, is RealSelf:

I know it seems like a huge amount of work, but after you've read this (as well as my prior post) a few times, you'll have a great understanding of the best way to proceed, and it will feel very comfortable and natural to you. Use the resources I've outlined, and use your gut- there are many great surgeons out there- with these guidelines you should be able to attain the outcome and experience you desire.

Avoiding Complications with a Mommy Makeover

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The best way to prevent complications in a mommy makeover, or any plastic surgery procedure is to carefully select a board certified plastic surgeon with excellent training and experience. It is also critical to follow the instructions of your plastic surgeon carefully.
Only consider having a mommy makeover performed in a hospital or accredited surgery center with a board-certified anesthesiologist providing anesthesia. My preference is for patients to spend the night in my accredited OR to provide peace of mind for patients and their families.
This is not the time to look for a bargain. Low prices or discounts may mean hidden costs, or worse, compromised safety or quality.
This is also not the time to be shy about asking questions about experience, training, office staff or cleanliness. The sterilization of liposuction cannulas is certainly something to be concerned about, particularly since the techniques used both for decontamination (initial cleaning) and subsequent sterilization may vary widely between surgical facilities.  Liposuctioncannulas have a long internal surface (hollow interior) that cannot be scrubbed and cleaned in the same manner as the exterior surface of thecannula. Some sterile processing departments merely flush the cannulas after use with water and/or detergent, then autoclave them (‘autoclave’ is the name of the sterilization machine).  Flushing without pulsatile pressure does not ensure that all debris is removed from the inner surface of the cannulas.


This need for specialized handling of hollow instruments during sterile processing applies to all liposuction cannulas, both those used for infiltration of tumescent solution prior to fat removal and to the larger ones used for removal (aspiration) of fat.  It is also of critical importance for procedures that use cannulas with very small diameters, such as those that are used for fat grafting.


·         At The Plastic Surgery Center our Sterile Processing Department uses a cannula-flushing device called the Pure StationTM System made by Pure Processing LLC.  One feature of this device is a built-in flushing pump which increases the productivity of syringe flushing of cannulas by about 70%.  Pulsatile flushing has been shown to significantly more effective at cleaning internal cannula surfaces compared to constant-pressure flushing by hand. The Pure StationTM System provide a rapid pulsatile flow of chemical detergent/cleaning solutions that cannot be produced by manual techniques.


·         The facility that your plastic  surgeon uses to perform surgical procedures should be happy to share with you the details of their sterilization process. Simply request to speak with the Clinical Director (usually an R.N.) or Nurse Manager of that facility.  It is perfectly reasonable to want some assurance about this important part of the surgery process.  

Michael Law, MD
Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 123 reviews

Safety issues with mommy makeover

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No mother would want to put herself at risk unnecessarily so your question about complications with the mommy makeover is a good one. The procedure typically includes a tummy tuck (mini or full), and a breast procedure (implants, lift, or both) so there isn't just one set of risks to consider. Fortunately the serious risks are rare. these would include blood clots embolizing to the lungs, but we use several measures to minimize the risk. The overall complication rate is small if the operation is done by an experienced plastic surgeon operating in an accredited facility.

Mommy Makeover Occasional Complications

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The most common complications following Mommy Makeover surgery are related to small amounts of excess skin called dog ears at the ends of either your breast or abdominal incisions. Surgeons try to limit the length of the incisions relying on the patient's healing to redistribute some of the excess. At times, the patient's skin fails to redrape and small revisionary surgery is required. Patients also may be aware post-operatively of some asymmetry between the sides of their body. If the asymmetry is significant, then additional correction may be required. Serious but rare complications can include infection, bleeding, deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary emboli (blood clots to the lungs). Well trained surgeons are always vigilant about intra-operative and post-operative care to minimize any complications. Patients should always seek out a surgeon who operates in an Accredited Facility, is Board Certified in Plastic Surgery, and has experience in Mommy Makeover surgery.

Carlin Vickery, MD (retired)
New York Plastic Surgeon

Mommy Makeover Complications

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Regardless of the surgery performed, a surgical scar can always result in 4 complications:

1. Bleeding or Hematoma (Blood clot under skin)

2. Infection

3. Wound Dehiscence or Breakdown

4. Poor Scarring

Scar tissue formation is multifactorial.  It can result from poor surgical technique, genetic predispositon, tension on the wound, infection, or wound breakdown.

Regardless of the scar tissue formation, plastic surgeons can offer a variety of therapeutic options to improve poor scar formation.

Complications from a Mommy Makeover are rare in the hands of an experienced Board Certified Plastic Surgeon.    Complications, although rare, can occur for the following mommy makeover procedures:

Complications of the Mommy Makeover

Specific to Breast Augmentation:  

-capsular contracture (scarring around the implant)




Specific to Breast Lift

-nipple/areola sensation loss

-breast asymmetry

-partial or complete loss of nipple/areola


Specific to Tummy Tuck:

-seroma formation (fluid collection)

-belly button partial or complete loss

-partial or complete skin loss


Specific to Liposuction

- contour deformity


-prolonged swelling

Paul S. Gill, MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon

Complications from a mommy makeover

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A "mommy makeover" typically involves a breast procedure (implants and/or lift) combined with a an abdominal procedure such as a tummy tuck and/or liposuction.  A patient must first have medical clearance by their primary care physician prior to undergoing this type of surgery to minimize and avoid complications.  There are anesthetic complications such as unusual heart rhythms or pnuemonia which can develop during or after surgery.  One well known complication is called a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or a blood clot which can form in a patients legs which can become life-threatening if it migrates toward the heart and lungs.  This blood clot formation has a tendency to develop during surgeries that are of a longer duration in time.

Other complications can develop from the surgery itself such as infection, bleeding, fluid collections under the skin (seromas), numbness, decreased nipple sensation, breast implant rupture, poor scarring or raised scars (keloids).

Please consult with a board certified plastic surgeon who is familiar with this combination of procedures and who can determine if you are a candidate for a "mommy makeover".

Safety needs to be the first priority whenever contemplating combination surgery.

Best wishes,

Dr. Bruno

Risks of Having Mommy Makeover Surgery

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The Mommy Makeover is a combination of procedures to bring a woman’s body back to the way she looked prior to pregnancy. Most commonly some variation of a #TummyTuck and #BreastSurgery are performed. Additional procedures can include liposuction, umbilical hernia repair.  The most common #breastprocedures include #mastopexy or #breastlift, #breastaugmentation, or #breastreduction.    

All surgical procedures carry some degree of #risk. Always discuss your issues and concerns with the Plastic Surgeon during and following your consultation. Information that you read online may not apply to your personal situation. The suitability of your procedures and any specific risks may be determined during you #consultation.

#Combining these procedures decreases anesthetics, costs, and recovery time.  Most importantly, your procedures should be performed by a #PlasticSurgeon who is board-certified and has a great deal of experience specializing in cosmetic #surgery. You will then greatly improve your chances of getting the result you desire, and, without the need for a revision surgery. It is suggested that you look at before and after photos of the surgeons actual patients, and read patient reviews. Gathering all of this information will help you make a well-informed decision. 
All surgical procedures carry some degree of #risk. Always discuss your issues and concerns with the Plastic Surgeon during and following your consultation. Information that you read online may not apply to your personal situation.
It is imperative you select a plastic surgeon who is #board-certified and has a great deal of experience with the procedures included with a Mommy Makeover. . Aside from checking board-certification, it is suggested that you look at before and after photos of the surgeons actual patients, and read patient reviews. Gathering all of this information will help you make a well-informed decision.

Mommy Makeover: Complications

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A mommy makeover is a great way to address the changes that occur in a women’s body after pregnancy.Combining breast and abdominal surgeries with liposuction is a fabulous way to accomplish numerous goals with only one surgery and one recovery, but the more things that are combined, the more opportunity there is for something to go wrong.Usually these surgeries can be accomplished safely together, but you and your surgeon need to both take all of the precautions you can, and not try to rush the healing process.
Probably the most common “complication” seen is to have a stitch or two pop and have a little prolongation of the healing. Usually this necessitates a dressing on the incision a little longer, but usually resolves over time without any major intervention.Another common thing to have happen is to develop a fluid collection (or seroma) under the tissues. Surgical drains are frequently used to avoid these, but if they come out too soon or you are too active after they come out, then fluid can build up and delay or cause problems with healing. Adequate compression and closely following activity restrictions make this much less likely.
Less common problems with infection can occur.Your surgeon typically will give you IV antibiotics right before your surgery, and then oral antibiotics for 24 hours after surgery.Following this protocol greatly reduces the chances of having an infection.What you do after surgery can also influence infections and healing.Avoid dirty and dusty environments, no swimming with stitches, have clean sheets and towels after surgery, no sleeping with pets, and practice good hand washing policies when touching dressings or around incisions.Minor issues are relatively common, but major problems that worsen results or threaten your health are extremely uncommon.Remember any surgery, no matter how minor, has risks involved, but following instructions and using common sense can avoid the majority of problems.

Check out my video on Tummy Tuck Recovery to learn more!

Mommy Make Over complications

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The performance of the combination of procedures comprising a Mommy Make Over has become increasingly popular over the last several years. The safe performance of these procedures is dependent on proper patient selection and the skill, experience and efficiency of the surgical team.If a patient is healthy and their Mommy Make Over is performed by an experienced team complications should be uncommon.
Although in general complications are uncommon when they do occur the most common ones would be associated with wound healing problems such as an infection or some degree of wound separation.Fortunately major complications are even less common. This would include such things as a blood clot leading to a pulmonary embolism and postoperative bleeding. An experienced an well-trained surgical team will evaluate you for all of these risks and take the necessary steps preoperatively to lessen your chances of a postoperative complication. Good luck

Complications after mommy makeover

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The risks associated with a mommy makeover correspond to whatever procedures are done; it is not possible to answer this question generally.

Bryan Correa, MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon

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.