Cosmetic Surgery Risks: General Surgery Risks and Complications

Does Cosmetic Surgery have Risks? YES, all invasive surgery has risks.

The key is to understand them and do what you CAN to minimise or prevent them.

But recognise SOME complications and SURGERY RISKS may occur randomly, despite having chosen the best surgeon, top hospital and best practice procedure and wound care.

Despite evidence-based medicine, all surgery CARRIES risks.

Understanding Potential Complications and Risks from COSMETIC Surgery or PLASTIC Surgery

  • Cosmetic Surgery is invasive, meaning your skin will be incised surgically, and tissues either re-adjusted OR removed.
  • ALL invasive procedures carry risks. Some RISKS can be mitigated; OTHER RISKS might occur randomly.

TIP: Ask your SURGEON for details of your specific surgery procedure risks or visit the PROCEDURE PAGES.

Disclaimer: Risks may be minor or severe, and you need to read these fully and understand them before consenting to your procedure.



Understand these surgery risks by reading the materials provided AND be sure you read everything before you sign the surgery consent form.

Statistics indicate that MOST HEALTHY PATIENTS tolerate plastic surgery well, but a small number of patients MAY experience reactions to surgery or incur higher SURGERY RISK rates or problems during their recovery.

Ask your SURGEON for a detailed list of Surgery Risks which MAY include but are NOT limited to:

General Anaesthesia – Most healthy patients are able to tolerate modern general anaesthesia quite well.

Our team will provide you with the details of your anaesthetists prior to your surgery to discuss any specific concerns.

Bleeding (Haematoma) – If this occurs, this may require another visit(s) to the operating theatre to remove the blood clot.

Infection – Your Surgeon will prescribe you with antibiotics and monitor you closely.

Delayed Wound Healing – Your Surgeon and Nurse coordinator will manage the healing process. This usually occurs within patients who are overweight, smokers or who have an infection.

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVD) – a blood clot may form if circulation is impeded or due to other contributing factors

Fluid build-up (Seroma) – reoperation may be required

Scarring – (every effort is made to place the scar within the areas covered by high cut swimwear or underwear). Initially there is almost always some contour issues or puckers. These settle over the months but sometimes may require a small revision often under local anaesthetic. Scars continue to mature and improve for up to 18 months after surgery. Stretch marks may not all be removed or new ones may be created. You will receive 3 Fraxel Laser treatments approximately 8 weeks post-surgery to manage and improve scarring with our Dermal Clinician.

Numbness – This will occur 100% of the time and mostly settles over the months and up to 1-2 years.

Asymmetry – There may be irregular ridges and crease to both sides. Scars may be slightly different on your right compared to you left side.

Umbilical Malposition/Loss – This is a very rare complication and may require further surgery.

Pain – This will be managed appropriately with pain medications and prompt aftercare.

  • All successful surgery outcomes are the result of realistic expectations of the patient, realistic surgical goals and the knowledge of possible risks and complications. Nothing is ever guaranteed in science and medicine.
  • Risks are minimised through careful patient screening and planning, high standards of surgical training, meticulous surgical technique and vigilant post-operative care.
  • Small, less serious issues are common and every effort is made to resolve them quickly.
  • These rarely have long term effect on an excellent final result.

Risks of General Surgery – Overview

+-What RISKS are there in having SURGERY or ANAESTHESIA?

General risks related to having a surgical procedure including cosmetic surgery or plastic surgery.

General Anaesthesia – Prior to surgery you will be provided with the details of your anaesthetist in order to discuss any specific concerns you may have. Most healthy patients tolerate general anaesthesia although in rare circumstances, allergies or reactions may occur. Find out details from your Surgeon and your Anaesthetist.

Bleeding (Haematoma) – Sometimes following surgery, a collection of blood may pool at the surgical site. If this occurs, a visit to the operating theatre may be required to remove the haematoma or other bleeding problem.

Infection – If an infection develops following surgery, your surgeon will prescribe antibiotics and monitor your progress closely.

Deep vein thrombosis – Read DVT resources from RACS here.

Scarring – All surgery leaves a scar, and each person’s scar will look unique. To minimise scarring for some procedures but not all, you may be recommended for Fraxel Laser scar treatments following surgery with the Coco Ruby Skin and Anti-Ageing Dermal Clinicians.

Delayed Wound Healing – Delayed wound healing may occur. This is more likely to be seen in patients who are overweight, have underlying health conditions such as diabetes, or who don’t follow good nutrition, and in smokers, or where an infection develops.

Your surgeon and nurse coordinator will manage the healing process and take necessary steps if delayed wound healing occurs.


+-Are my SURGERY RISKS higher than normal?

  • Some additional or ELEVATED RISKS from having surgery MAY APPLY to certain patients.
  • Risks and potential COMPLICATIONS with HIGHER RISK rates:
    • may be due to genetics or weight/Body Mass Index
    • might be related to underlying health conditions or allergies and sensitivities
    • may relate to substance use habits or lifestyle factors, SUCH as smoking or bacteria-laden environments or improper wound care
    • may occur based on your use or intake of medications, herbs and/or other substances (legal or illicit)
    • may relate to improper nutrition or disturbed sleep habits or to apnea or breathing issues
  • SMOKING means you’ll incur higher complication RISKS and health risks at all stages of your procedure
  • OBESITY can also increase your risks
  • PRIOR reactions to any type of surgical procedure or medications (including allergies) may also mean your particular SURGERY RISKS are higher
  • Other factors may increase your risks such as having more than one or two procedures at one time (longer operating times)
  • Discuss RISKS with your Surgeon during a consultation


+-HOW can I REDUCE my RISKS from Cosmetic Surgery?

  • Some risks can be minimised by what you do BEFORE and AFTER surgery.
  • Others may occur randomly.
  • It’s important to have a healthy lifestyle, NEVER to smoke AND to follow your Surgeon’s specific surgery PREPARATION and surgery RECOVERY protocols.

Be sure you understand the risks before proceeding with cosmetic procedures.

  • If you’re one of the unlucky patients who experiences a potential complication or health concern after surgery,
  • be sure you notify your Surgeon IMMEDIATELY and/or your medical practitioners AND
  • Discuss your best treatment options with your Special Plastic Surgeon
  • Recognise that having a complication may delay your recovery time and healing

TIP: Discuss RISKS with your SURGEON and be sure you understand the surgery consent forms before proceeding.

Disclaimer: This list of COSMETIC SURGERY RISKS is NOT fully inclusive. NOR does this list replace or constitute medical advice.

Plastic Surgeon’s Recommendations

+-Learning about cosmetic surgery RISKS - do your research!

  • RISKS are covered in your CONSULTATION and before you proceed with surgery.
    RISKS are listed in the consent form.
  • You’re advised to do your own research as well, but rely on reputable sources such as Harvard Medical, MAYO clinic or similarly reputable medical sites.
  • Ask your Surgeon for the detailed list of potential cosmetic surgery risks or potential complications, including RISKS specific to certain procedures.
  • Be sure you READ all materials or VIDEOS provided to you about your risks.
  • Follow your Surgeon’s advice carefully to REDUCE RISKS when possible.
  • Understand not everything in surgery recovery may go to plan – but choosing an expert Surgeon AND having surgery in an accredited private Hospital, you’ll at least be in GOOD HANDS should something not go to plan.
  • Complications, however, could delay your recovery.


+-Learning about SURGERY RISKS and what to expect during normal recovery.

What to expect:

Your Specialist Plastic Surgeons in Melbourne or Sydney will go over surgery risks with you in detail during a confidential consultation for your procedure.

  • It’s important to be honest with your Surgeon about prior cosmetic surgeries, lifestyle habits, allergies, medications and supplements as well as emotional health and mental states.
  • These can all impact your surgery risks.
  • Second opinions about cosmetic surgery from one of our expert Plastic Surgeons may also be of benefit to some patients, especially those shopping on cosmetic surgery price who are unaware of differences in surgeons.

Understanding Risks of Surgery is important – do you research and choose your Surgeon wisely.

  • Choosing whether or not to proceed with plastic surgery or cosmetic surgery is a very personal decision and one that should be well-informed.
  • You’ll be asked to review complications, take your time to consider the implications of surgery (there’s a mandatory waiting period), sign a consent form indicating you understand the procedure and risks, and follow your Surgeon’s advice.

Junior surgeons? Cheap offers for discount prices? Don’t be lured by cost – FIND OUT WHAT YOU’RE REALLY GETTING with a Surgeon.

  • Be sure you understand the risks of choosing a less trained surgeon or junior doctor if you are having overseas surgery or surgery by a cosmetic surgeon.
  • Understand the value of choosing a top Plastic Surgeon who is accredited by RACS (look for FRACS Plastic and membership in ASAPS, ASPS and ISAPS to be sure you’re getting a genuinely qualified PLASTIC SURGEON in Australia.)

Download a GUIDE to learn more about a SPECIFIC procedure.

Visit our Downloadable Guides pages

For more information about Cosmetic and Plastic Surgery options and research in Australia.

cosmetic surgery for women and men Downloadable guides


References and Scientific Articles and Peer Reviewed Journals for Cosmetic or Plastic Surgery and RISKS

Obesity Risks


Download a SURGERY GUIDE for procedure information and recovery tips or phone us on 0388491444.

Page last updated on 29 November 2018.