Risks in plastic, cosmetic and reconstructive surgery

This article is informative and does not relieve the doctor of his responsibilities. The decision to have a surgery must be made in full knowledge of all the facts. During the consultation, the surgeon will answer all your questions and warn you of any risks, even if they are exceptional. Any surgery involves risks and limitations. If you do not accept them, it is better to give up the intervention or to find a different solution (aesthetic medicine, for example).


A surgical incision necessarily involves one or more scars. They can appear on the skin or on operated tissues. There is no way to completely erase scars resulting from a surgical incision. During the consultation, the surgeon will let you know about the position and the length of the scars implied by a surgical procedure, these scars can vary according to the type of intervention and your morphology.

In the first few months following a surgery procedure, it is normal for a scar to thicken and redden. This inflammatory reaction diminishes over time. The scar takes about two years to stabilize and its definitive appearance varies according to its position and the reaction of each patient.

In some cases, the scar may remain red and / or blistered. It is called a “hypertrophic scar” or “keloid scar”. This type of scar can occur unpredictably and may require special treatment afterwards. Hypertrophic scars tend to be more common on black skin.

The most serious complication is cutaneous necrosis, namely the loss of a more or less extensive cutaneous zone in the operated zone. Cutaneous necrosis can seriously affect the aesthetic result of the procedure. A second procedure may be necessary.


Smoking increases the risk of complications of any surgery. Stop smoking 6-8 weeks before the procedure to eliminate this additional risk.

If you smoke, talk to your doctor, surgeon, and anesthesiologist, or call Tobacco-Info-Service at 3989 to help reduce risk and put the odds on your side.

To find out more about the risks of surgical complications related to smoking, consult the information sheet on perioperative smoking.

Postoperative bleeding

Postoperative bleeding is almost systematic in the case of surgery. It causes traces of blood on the dressing and bruises on the skin (hematoma) for 1 to 3 weeks.

Bleeding can sometimes cause a hematoma that results in swelling and painful tensions. It is sometimes necessary to carry out a new procedure to evacuate the hematoma and to control the cause of it.

In case of significant bleeding, a transfusion may be necessary.


The contamination of a wound, scar or drainage hole is usually not serious. It rarely affects the general and / or local condition. During the first days of convalescence, the bandage are changed with a greater frequency.

An infection can cause skin necrosis. In this case, it can lead to one or more interventions. If the procedure requires the placement of an implant, a serious infection will probably require the removal of the implant.

Sensitivity disturbances

Sensory disturbances are almost systematic around the operated area. This sensitivity is recovered gradually over the course of a few months.

In some cases, insensitive or less sensitive areas may persist, particularly near the scar. It should be known that tobacco limits the recovery of sensitivity.


The body is not symmetrical (breasts, face, eyebrows, nostrils, hips, ...). The patient does not always realize it and these differences can not always be corrected by the intervention. Even when there is no difference, the intervention may result in a moderate difference. Sometimes asymmetry can be the very reason for consultation and the information is then adapted.

Risks related to breast implants

The placement of breast implants does not entail any risk of additional general illness and does not limit the detection of cancer during clinical examinations (mammograms). Whether it is serum or silicone, some palpability of the implant is always possible.

In addition to the aforementioned risks, there is a risk related to an abnormal reaction of the body against the prosthesis which results in the formation of a hard and / or painful capsular contracture that can deform the breast. Correcting deformation and / or hardness may require one or more procedures. Sometimes it is impossible to put the prosthesis back in place. The formation of a capsular contracture does not present danger

Treatments that require several procedures

Some procedures require several operating times. These will be explained to the patient during the preoperative consultation.

The result of an intervention can not be exactly predicted. In addition, the healing is specific to each patient and can causes a variation in the result obtained. A second procedure to modify the result is always possible after the initial procedure.

Serious risks

Good security practices limit serious risks but can not completely eliminate them.

Some risks, fortunately exceptional, are unpredictable and may put the patient's vital or functional prognosis at risk (embolism, paralysis, sepsis, visual disturbances, etc.).

Anesthesia has its own complications that will be explained by the anesthesiologist.

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Dr Cédric Kron - Plastic surgeon in Paris

Former resident, Gold Medal of Surgery and Head of Clinic of Paris Hospitals (APHP), Dr. C. Kron is qualified in Plastic, Cosmetic and Reconstructive Surgery. He practices as a plastic surgeon in Paris, with a comprehensive and tailor-made approach of aesthetic treatments.