Scars and wound healing: You will have noticeable scars. Some patients make better scars than others depending on the individual’s skin type. All become red and raised initially and then begin to settle over a 12-month period. The scars may become red, raised permanently, and itchy. These are known as hypertrophic or keloid scars and is very difficult to treat. The scars may also stretch.
Wound healing can be slow, particularly in the tighter central part of the wound and sometimes dressings are needed until the wounds heal which may be a few weeks. This is more common in patients who are overweight and/or who smoke. This may leave more obvious scars that are tethered. These can be revised but this would require a further operation.
Infection: Infection is a risk, which may require a course of antibiotics, or an abscess may develop within the scar requiring a second operation and hospital stay.
Bleeding: Bleeding may occur requiring a second operation or the need for a blood transfusion.
Numbness and sensitivity: There is numbness in the lower part of the abdominal after surgery this is usually temporary but could be permanent.
The sensitivity of the inner thigh may be affected. It can sometimes become numb due to nerve damage that may occur during the operation.
Swelling and Seromas: Swelling above the scar is usually present following the operation and is due to a collection of tissue fluid (oedema) that normally drains to the groin. This swelling usually settles within a few months.
A collection of fluid may develop under the abdominal skin following removal of the drains. This is known as a seroma. If it is not causing problems it can be left alone and the body will absorb the fluid. However, on occasions it is necessary to remove the fluid using a needle and syringe this can be done in the outpatient department.
The abdominal wall may not be symmetrical following the procedure, one side being slightly more full than the other. The tummy button may not be in its original position, it may move to one side. This complication has been over publicised and is rare. Very rarely there has been reports of the tummy button dying away leaving the patient with a scar where the tummy button was.
Secondary procedures are sometimes carried out and may involve scar revision and limited liposuction.
What are the limitations?
The skin is usually tightened downwards and this does not reduce the waistline. If this is desired then we can consider removing skin vertically (Fleur-de-Lys abdominoplasty), but you should bear in mind that vertical scars of the abdomen are more obvious. The beneficial effects of the operation are usually long term. The effects will be maintained better if you exercise the abdominal muscles and keep your weight steady. Pregnancy will of course stretch the skin again. Your Consultant will advise you on this. For most patients this operation does not involve these complications and they are pleased with the results of surgery. This is not a complete list of all the possible complications, but it is provided to act as an additional source of information, following your discussion about the operation.
If you require any further information or advice please contact any of the following:
Sister or Nurse in Charge Plastic Surgery Out Patient Department, RVI
(Monday – Friday 8am – 5pm)
Telephone: (0191) 282 4228
Sister or Nurse in Charge - Ward 47 RVI
(at any time)
Telephone: (0191) 282 5647