Is Plastic Surgery Safe?
Plastic surgery can provide significant benefits, such as increased self-esteem and confidence, there are several concerns that people may have after undergoing the procedure that are often seen as safety issues but are expected post-op phenomena. Let’s take a look at common things that you may experience post-op during your recovery from plastic surgery that are totally normal and are not a cause for distress.
Pain and discomfort
Any surgical procedure will involve some degree of pain and discomfort, and plastic surgery is no exception. While pain can be managed with medication, it is important to be prepared for the recovery process and to take the necessary time off work or other activities to allow for proper healing. These are both expected and normal issues post-op and are not a cause for concern for safety.
Generally speaking, the first three days after most plastic surgeries are the worst. Plastic surgeons usually prescribe painkillers for these few days. After that, it is usually more discomfort than pain which can be managed with an over-the-counter pain reliever.
Scarring is another common concern after plastic surgery. While plastic surgeons strive to minimize scarring, it is important to remember that any surgery will leave a scar no matter what. The appearance of scars can be improved with time and proper care, but it is important to understand that they may never completely disappear. Scars are also an expected surgical outcome. Barring something like incisions splitting open and infection developing as a result, scars are generally not considered a safety concern.
Skin color can have an impact on scar healing. People with fair skin tend (on average) to have very faint scars which become very hard to notice over time. People with medium to dark skin usually have more visible scars and are more genetically likely to get keloids or hypertrophic scarring. Both types are raised forms of scars.
Plastic surgery can have a significant impact on a person’s emotional well-being. While many people experience increased self-esteem and confidence after surgery, others may feel disappointed or even depressed if their expectations are not met. It is important to have a support system in place and to be prepared for the emotional changes that may occur after surgery.
Emotional challenges are very common after plastic surgery, and while not really considered a “complication” or something that makes plastic surgery unsafe, it is worth discussing because many times people feel “damaged” or “broken” afterward even though they are just going through normal healing. A skewed emotional state can make recovery more challenging, even when everything is going right because you feel like everything is going wrong.
One of the biggest concerns that people have after plastic surgery is that their expectations were not met. Many people undergo surgery hoping to achieve a specific outcome, but it is important to remember that there are limits to what can be achieved through surgery. It is important to have realistic expectations and to communicate them clearly with your surgeon.
If your expectations don’t match with what your surgeon can do, skip the procedure altogether. It is fine to go for 2 or 3 opinions. If the surgeon says that what you are asking is not a good idea, and the other surgeons agree, then you probably should not do the surgery. If you keep looking for a surgeon who will agree with you, you will find him or her. Remember that some people are more motivated by money than your long-term health and well-being. If you let your unrealistic expectations override the advice given to you by most surgeons, you are putting yourself at unnecessary risk for serious complications.
On that note, let’s turn to the actual issues that you should be concerned about when asking “Is plastic surgery safe?”
Actual Risks in Plastic Surgery
As with any surgical procedure, there is always a risk of complications with plastic surgery. These can include infection, bleeding, and adverse reactions to anesthesia. While the risk of complications is generally low, it is important to be aware of the potential risks and to discuss them with your surgeon prior to the procedure so you can make an informed decision about getting your surgery.
Major complications like the ones listed above are rare, but minor complications are not uncommon. Generally, these are nothing to worry about – such as fibrosis, a minor opening in an incision, or a restricted range of motion. A qualified, licensed lymphatic massage therapist can usually help with many minor complications that don’t involve wounds.
One of the biggest risks associated with plastic surgery is the use of untrained or unlicensed surgeons. These individuals often lack the education, experience, and credentials needed to perform safe and effective surgical procedures. They may use substandard techniques, fail to follow proper safety protocols, and even use outdated or dangerous equipment. Patients who choose to undergo surgery with untrained surgeons run the risk of serious complications, including infection, scarring, and even death.
Another risk associated with plastic surgery is the use of untrained anesthesiologists. These individuals are responsible for administering anesthesia during surgery, which can be a dangerous and potentially life-threatening procedure. Untrained anesthesiologists may use the wrong type or amount of anesthesia, fail to monitor the patient’s vital signs properly, or even administer the anesthesia incorrectly. Patients who receive anesthesia from untrained anesthesiologists run the risk of serious complications, including respiratory distress, cardiac arrest, and even brain damage.
Unclean Surgical Facilities
Patients who undergo plastic surgery in unclean surgical facilities run the risk of infection and other complications. These facilities may lack the proper equipment and protocols needed to maintain a sterile environment, and may even reuse equipment or fail to properly dispose of medical waste. Patients who undergo surgery in unclean facilities may be at risk of contracting serious infections, including MRSA, sepsis, and other life-threatening conditions.
Traveling to Unfamiliar Locations
Many people travel out of the country to places where they are unsure of the laws governing surgical safety. These individuals may seek out plastic surgery services at a lower cost, but may also be at risk of complications due to the lack of regulation and oversight. Patients who travel to unfamiliar locations to undergo plastic surgery may be at risk of serious complications, including infection, scarring, and even death.
Unlicensed Post-Op Massage Therapists
Another risk associated with plastic surgery is the use of unlicensed post-op massage therapists. These individuals may perform medical procedures, such as reopening incisions and draining fluid out of wounds, without the proper training or licensure. Patients who receive massages from unlicensed individuals run the risk of serious complications, including infection, scarring, and even the reopening of incisions, which can lead to further complications and prolong the recovery process.
Factors in Ensuring You Get a Safe Plastic Surgery
Board Certification by the ASPS
One of the most critical factors to consider when undergoing plastic surgery is the surgeon’s qualifications. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) is the largest plastic surgery specialty organization in the world, and their board certification ensures that the surgeon has undergone extensive training in plastic surgery and meets high standards of ethics and patient care. Choosing a board-certified plastic surgeon by the ASPS is an essential first step in ensuring that your procedure is safe.
Surgical Facility Accreditation
The surgical facility where your plastic surgery takes place is also crucial to your safety. Accredited surgical facilities must meet strict standards for patient safety, including equipment, emergency protocols, and staff training. Accreditation from organizations like the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC) and the Joint Commission demonstrates that the facility has undergone a rigorous evaluation process to ensure its safety.
Frequency of the Surgeon’s Performance of the Procedure
Another essential factor to consider when selecting a plastic surgeon is their experience with the specific procedure you want. A surgeon who performs the procedure frequently is likely to have more expertise and better outcomes than one who only performs it occasionally. Be sure to ask your surgeon about their experience with the procedure you want, including how many times they have performed it and what their success rate is.
Finally, it is crucial to have a certified anesthesiologist present during your plastic surgery. Anesthesia carries risks, and having a trained professional administer and monitor your anesthesia can help minimize those risks. A certified anesthesiologist will also be prepared to handle any complications that may arise during the procedure.