Abdominoplasty is a large operation of at least three hours. Complications are relatively rare, but are more common in smokers and in patients with an unhealthy body mass index.
The skin, fat and soft tissues are released form their normal attachment and pulled taught. This can disrupt their normal blood supply. Very occasionally this can affect wound healing, and in very rare instances this could require further surgery.
Patients can bleed in the first day after surgery and require a second operation to stop this bleeding. This is a rare event, excess bleeding would be suggested by unexpected distension of the abdomen, oozing into the wound dressings, or pain.
Common complications include the build up of fluid below the skin and fat of the abdomen in the weeks after surgery. This can require drainage as an out-patient, using a syringe, in clinic.
The risks of systemic complications, such as thrombosis or pulmonary embolism, are minimized by the use of thrombo-embolic stockings, calf compression in theatre, injection of low-molecular weight heparin, warming in theatre and in recovery, and early mobilization (getting out of bed as soon as fit enough to do so with the support of the nurses).
Any patient who experience a rapid onset of calf-pain, or shortness of breath in the weeks after surgery, needs rapid assessment (usually best carried out by the emergency departmentof a local hospital) to exclude the possibility of a deep venous thrombosis (a clot in the calf veins) or a pulmonary embolism (a blood clot obstructing a lung blood vessel).