Tummy Tuck/Lipo Rare Complications?

I was just wondering I have been reading a lot on "rare" complications that can happen with a tummy tuck/lipo and I guess my question is what is rare? I mean can the surgeons on this board let me know out of how many tummy tucks/lipo they have done how many serious complications they have come across in there years of surgery (blood clots, bleeding, transfusion, anesthesia issues) . I appreciate your honesty.

Doctor Answers 5

Tummy tuck/lipo Complications

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Rare, to me, means 1% or less for a serious complication. My experience after more than 20 years of specialty cosmetic surgery:

  • In tummy tuck/lipo combinations, I have, fortunately so far, had no patients with major problems, including blood clots, bleeding, transfusions or anesthesia issues.

Good judgement and good practice are key to reducing complications, e.g.

  • I am with all my patients from the time they enter the operating room until they are stable in the recovery room. This minimizes anesthestic issues.
  • I only do moderate volume (up to 3 L total) liposuction with a tummy tuck.
  • I avoid liposuction (except in the tummy tuck area) in a patient who is at higher risk, e.g. a smoker.
  • Best wishes!

Complications and tummy tuck

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Tummy tucks like any surgical procedure can have complications. It is rare to have a blood clot, blood collection, or fluid collection,but more common to have local wound healing issues  that usually go on to heal without an further surgery.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Tummy tuck rare complications

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Serious complications after abdominoplasty are very rare. Infections needing hospitalization, bleeding and blood clots are in that category and fewer than 2-3% of the patients will have them. Personally I perform ~ 150 Lateral Tension abdominoplasties per year, having done more than a 1000 procedures, I have had one patient that had bleeding, one infection needing hospitalization and two non fatal blood clots. Proper patient selection an optimizing health and care before, during and after surgery will minimize these rare events. You should meet local board certified plastic surgeons in your area and ask them this specific question. Dr. Keith Hodge in your area is a great surgeon.

Kevin Tehrani, MD, FACS
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 106 reviews

Risks of Tummy Tuck/Lipo are Very Low

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Serious complications in Tummy Tuck/Lipo are very low. One of the keys is screening your patients appropriately and not operating on patients who have serious risk factors such as heart disease, diabetes and smoking. Another key is using a board certified anesthesiologist and an accredited facility. I am a board certified plastic surgeon who has been in practice 20 years. I do 50-75 tummy tuck/lipo procedures per year. I have never had a death or hospitalization and never had to transfuse a patient. I have had one infection that required reoperation and one significant area of skin death in a smoker. I no longer operate on smokers unless they have quit for at least 6 weeks before surgery. Minor complications such as small seroma and need for scar revision are seen is less than 5% of patients.

John Squires, MD
Denver Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 82 reviews

Tummy Tuck/Lipo Rare Complications

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Thanks for the question.

I have done 50-75 abdominoplasties a year over the last 5-10 years.

I have had three patients who had to go back to surgery for bleeding. One had abnormal blood clotting, and two were past or present obesity patients. All three of these were at higher than normal risk. These are the only three patients of mine who have been transfused. 

I have had two patients who had some skin loss. Both smoked during the post-op period, knowing the risk. One healed uneventfully, one needed addition surgery for debridement, and then a reconstructive operation.

No patients had anesthetic complications requiring unplanned admission to hospital or other addition therapy. No patients (that I know of) had clots in the legs or lungs, although these can occur at a sub-clinical level, that is in a way that produces no symptoms, and therefore they are not diagnosed. 

Most surgeons would use about 1% as a threshold for rare.


Thanks for your question, best wishes.

Jourdan Gottlieb, MD
Seattle 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.