Risks & Complications

Abdominoplasty is the surgical procedure which improves appearance and contour of the abdomen. This is achieved by removal of excess skin, fat, scars, stretch marks from the lower part of the tummy and tightening of abdominal wall muscles. The operation can correct small weaknesses (hernias) in the underlying muscles and fascia, but can also greatly help lower abdominal dermatitis and skin irritation caused by tissue excess (often called “a skin apron”).


Liposuction, also known as liposculpture or suction assisted lipectomy, is a technique which removes unwanted fat deposits by suction (negative pressure) through a small cuts in the skin. The unsightly distribution of body fat is usually due to an inborn tendency of fat deposition in one particular area of the body. The commonest sites are hips, thighs, tummy, arms, inner side of knees etc, but enlarged and/or abnormal fat collections can appear anywhere in the body and have less typical distribution. Abnormal fat can be a part of the benign fat tumour (lipoma) too. In men, fatty swellings behind the nipples which may resemble breast is known as gynaecomastia. So, a broad variety of fat abnormalities can be addressed by liposuction. However, liposuction cannot address successfully marked skin excess or improve cellulite (the dimpled appearance of the skin of the buttocks and thighs). It is certainly not a ‘quick and simple’ tool for obesity or weight loss.

Fat cells are thought not to regenerate in adult life. Therefore, fat removal by liposuction will give a permanent change in contour and be independent of any changes in the body weight.

Liposuction is not a treatment for obesity. The amount of fat that can be removed from a localised area is limited by what is safe (maximum of 4-5 litres of fat tissue). Therefore, it may not be possible to slim down an area as much as you might like, but further treatments may be carried out in the same area after six months. In certain situations the skin is inelastic and loose. Liposuction in these areas will then tend to leave the skin more loose so that skin excision might be more appropriate then liposuction. Dimples and wrinkles of the skin, sometimes called cellulite cannot be improved by liposuction.


You are likely to need simple pain killers for a day or so after the operation and will probably be asked to return a week after surgery to have sutures removed. There is normally a leakage of blood stained tissue fluid from cannula incisions in the first 24 hours. A snug pressure garment or corset is usually advised around the lower part of the body following abdominal liposuction. Tight elastic compression garments can also be applied around thighs, knees and arms following limb liposuction. Compression reduces bruising and facilitates deep tissue reattachment to the underlying fascia after fat has been removed. The corset is usually worn for 3-4 weeks.

You will only need to take a few days off work if a small area is treated but larger areas may be necessitate 7 to 10 days off work. It will take 3-6 months for tissues to settle and new appearance become final.

Potential risks and complications

Complications are rare, but as with any surgical procedure, there are general and procedure (liposuction) specific risks which patients must be aware of:

General complications:

  • Adverse reaction to general anaesthetic
  • Clots in the legs/lungs
  • Vein trombosis / inflammation (trombophlebitis)
  • Bruising and swelling in the operated area (especially in patients on aspirin or anti-inflammatory drugs)
  • Skin/wound infection
  • Scars
  • Hypertrophic (lumpy and itchy) scars
  • Delayed healing
  • Numbness, alteration in sensation

Specific complications:

  • Fat necrosis
  • Fatty lumps and irregularities
  • Seroma formation (fluid collection under the skin)
  • Surface irregularities (dimpling, rippling, loose skin)
  • Asymmetry (if procedure is performed at symmetric areas)

Before Operation

  • Anticoagulation medication (Aspirin, Brufen, Warfarin, Clopidrogel) should ideally be stopped few days before the operation to reduce the risk of bleeding, but advise from the clinician who prescribed them is wise beforehand. I would strongly advise you to stop smoking prior to surgery as this can badly affect the outcome of surgery and increase complication rates.
  • Please make sure that you arrange to be collected from the hospital as you will not be able to drive after the surgery.
  • Plan your time off work / sports / hobbies
  • Allow at least few weeks after surgery before considering a holiday.

I am keen to show patients schematic illustrations about the liposuction as I like to engage my patients with planning of their forthcoming surgery, and help them gain basic understanding on what and how things will be done and where possible risks lie. During the consultation, I can show you the pictures on pre and post operative results achieved in some of my patients if this would be of interest to you.

This leaflet provides only basic and generic information. Full details and explanations are provided at the consultation as no two patients are the same and personal circumstances are highly individual. Patients will be provided with detailed leaflet, comprehensive informed consent on risks and complications associated with this operation, few of which are mentioned above.

If you have any concerns following your surgery please contact:

  • Hospital where you were operated:
    Ashtead 01372 221 442; St Anthony’s 020 8337 6691; Parkside 020 8971 8000
  • Your GP practice
  • My secretary on 0845 026 7776 (Monday – Friday, 9:30 – 18:00)
  • Synopsis:

    Hospital stay Day care or overnight for larger areas
    Anaesthetic General
    Surgery time 30-90 min (depending on the area treated)
    Wound healing 10 - 14 days
    Shower / Bath from week 1
    Time off work 2 weeks (for office based jobs)
    Sports and exercise from week 4
    Driving 1 week
    Full recovery 1-2 weeks for smaller areas3-4 weeks (for larger areas)


    All appointments, correspondence and enquiries are handled through the Practice Manager: Arabella Burwood

    Ashtead Hospital, The Warren, Ashtead, Surrey KT21 2SB

    Tel: +44 (0)845 026 7776 | Fax: +44 (0)845 026 7772