Plastic Surgery and Complications

There’s an old adage that every surgeon knows:  “You show me a surgeon who has no complications, and I’ll show you a surgeon who doesn’t operate.”  Put another way, you could say that there are two types of surgeons:  those who admit to having occasional complications, and those who lie about it.

Plastic Surgery Complications Can Happen

Complications have been a part of surgery since the origins of our specialty. Their occurrence can be reduced, their severity minimized, and their effects treated, but complications can never be totally eliminated. Even the most accomplished surgeons in the world occasionally will encounter complications.

Surgery Complications Are An Integral Part of a Surgeon’s Profession

This is an important consideration to remember, not only for the surgeon, but especially for our patients. That is why every patient undergoing an operation (or their representative) will be required to read and sign a form referred to as an “informed consent.” This form lists the most common potential risks and complications associated with the procedure that a patient is contemplating. By signing that form, it is assumed that they have discussed these risks with their surgeon, understand the implications, and agree to have the surgery fully aware of the potential adverse consequences. Fortunately, these risks are generally low and the incidence of complications rare.

The Doctor/Patient Relationship is Collaboration

It is the surgeon’s obligation to make the patient aware of the potential risks and complications of any procedure, and it is the obligation of the patient to listen and understand these risks, and ask appropriate questions. If either party fails in these duties, bad things tend to happen.

Fortunately, Complications in Plastic Surgical Operations Are Rare

This is due to a combination of the high level of training required of plastic surgeons, and the relatively good health of our patients. However, when they do happen, complications are always stressful (for both the patient and the surgeon). This is particularly true for cosmetic surgery, where the cost for treating any complication is generally not covered by insurance. It is imperative, therefore, to have a full knowledge of the type, severity, frequency, and treatment options for any potential complication, as well as the potential costs involved. Your surgeon should be able to have this discussion with you prior to any surgery.