7 mindboggling reasons why you should avoid plastic surgery

It is okay to opt for plastic surgery if you want or if necessary, but you may want to know it comes with high risks. It is important to learn about the side effects of plastic surgery before going under the knife. 

A plastic surgeon carrying out surgical operation on a patient

Scrolling through social media could make you feel like the “most imperfect human” on earth. 

With pictures of people with filled-out busts, trimmed waist, well-chiseled cheeks, and pointed noses plastered everywhere online, it is hard not to think of reconstructing your body.

A study of female university students in Saudi Arabia showed that social media influenced 48.5% of the students to consider going for plastic surgeries, while 51.4% said they follow plastic surgeons on social media.

When people think of plastic surgery, they often picture a big-sized woman in her mid-30s visiting a plastic surgeon for liposuction or a working-class lady in her late-20s seeing a plastic surgeon for butt and breast enlargement.

The fact is that cosmetic surgery has gone beyond being exclusive to women. 

Even though cosmetic procedures are more prevalent in women than men, studies show that the number of men considering these procedures is significant and on the rise. Since 2000, male cosmetic surgery has spiked by 28%.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) reported that Americans spent an estimated $16.7 billion on different cosmetic procedures in 2020 alone.

Anyone opting for plastic surgery wants to change appearance in one way or the other; however, there is always a major reason behind this decision. The main reason is usually people not being happy or satisfied with their appearance.

“It all starts with people wanting to improve imperfections so they can feel better about themselves”, Sarah Thorne, a study leader for research commissioned by the ASPS, told WebMD.

Plastic surgery is also common among celebrities. If you check online for celebrities that have undergone plastic surgeries, you will come up with an alarming list/number. This shows how much popularity cosmetic surgeries are gaining among the populace.

While plastic surgeries give people the look they want and add to their happiness and self-confidence, people mustn’t ignore its potential side effects. Below are reasons you might want to reconsider your decision to go under the knife.

1. Scarring

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Scarring is one of the most common side effects of surgeries. Usually, plastic surgeons take care to create smaller, less noticeable scars; however, even the best surgeons still need to make an incision before they can perform surgery. 

Plastic surgeries with incisions are guaranteed to leave a mark, and an infection can worsen the scarring. Also, some people predisposed to keloids (uncontrollable growth of scar tissues) may be much affected as their scar can get much more prominent. 

2. Infections

Surgical procedures like cosmetic surgeries have a risk of infection. Even when the hospital and operating equipment are sterilized, once a cut is made on the skin, the body's best defense against infection becomes vulnerable to harmful foreign organisms.

Infections can increase scarring in the operated area. Also, in cases of surgical implantations such as breast augmentation, if the infection spreads to the implant from the incision site, the implant may have to be removed. This means undergoing another procedure.

Some of the earliest signs of infection include discharge at the incision site, pain, redness, fever, and foul odor. Getting such signs after plastic surgery calls for urgent attention by your doctor. 

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3. Blood clots

Blood clots can cause death, yet many plastic surgeons don't assess patients for blood clot risk. It is one of the most significant causes of mortality and morbidity in surgical patients.

A blood clot occurs when blood changes from its liquid state to a gel-like or semi-solid state. They are clumps of blood that form in the arteries or veins. 

A blood clot can cause deep vein thrombosis (a blood clot in one of the body's deep veins, usually in the leg). This can lead to pulmonary embolism (blood clot lodged in an artery in the lungs), which is deadly.

According to a study, about 34% of the members of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons have diagnosed pulmonary embolism in their patients, and about 7% had observed at least one death due to this issue.

Some people are at a higher of developing clots; this includes pregnant women, women using oral contraceptives, obese people, people with cancer, and people with a family history of blood clots.

Other risk factors emerge after surgery; these include trauma, immobility, and how many surgeries were performed on the person at a time.

4. Blindness

Photo by Olga Guryanova on Unsplash

The use of facial fillers is now on the rise. This procedure involves injecting synthetic or naturally occurring substances into the folds, lines, and tissues of the face to soften wrinkles, smoothen lines and enhance facial contours.

This is a minimally invasive procedure; however, it can cost people their sight. One of the side effects of facial fillers is vascular occlusion, which can lead to blindness. 

Vascular occlusion occurs when blood cannot pass through a blood vessel. In the case of facial fillers, a vascular occlusion can occur when the injected substance blocks a blood vessel that supplies blood to the eye. 

The risk of vascular occlusion increases when an inexperienced provider injects fillers. Also, researchers have raised concerns regarding the newer available fillers, which may increase the risk of complications.

5. Organ damage

Organ damage is a common side effect of liposuction. Liposuction is also called body contouring or lipoplasty. It is a procedure that involves removing (sucking out) extra fat from the body. It is among the most common cosmetic procedures people undergo.

Overweight people opt for liposuction as an “instant gratification” surgery. But, unlike bariatric surgery, liposuction is not considered a weight loss surgery. This is because it does not address the issue causing the weight loss. 

Liposuction is usually recommended for people with stubborn fat areas that have refused to melt away with dieting and exercising. 

Liposuction has a high risk of causing complications. That is why it is important to discuss the pros and cons before scheduling an appointment.

Liposuction can cause burns, puncture wounds, organ injuries, and even death. It can pose a threat to organs in the abdomen such as the intestines, liver, and even lungs. 

A liposuction tool that mistakenly punctures the intestines can trigger an infection. If it is not discovered early, the infection can become systemic, leading to death. 

6. Hematomas and granulomas

Minimally invasive cosmetic procedures like chemical peels, soft tissue fillers, microdermabrasion, laser hair removal, and botulin toxin (botox) injections carry some risks. One of such risks is granulomas.

A granuloma is a small area of inflammation. They are usually benign, meaning they are non-cancerous. However, they are usually indications of inflammatory conditions and infections.

Hematomas also appear as a side effect of cosmetic surgery. Hematomas are collections of blood outside the blood vessel. They occur when an injury causes blood to gather and pool under the skin.

Hematomas look like severe dark bruising. According to a study, about 1% of 130,000 cosmetic surgery cases developed a major hematoma following the procedure. 

7. Anaphylaxis and excess bleeding

Anaphylaxis and excess bleeding can occur after a plastic surgery in some rare cases

Like other surgical procedures, some blood loss is expected in cosmetic surgery. However, there are cases where bleeding becomes excess.

An uncontrollable loss of blood can cause a drastic reduction in blood pressure, leading to death. 

The most dangerous form of bleeding is internal bleeding which occurs when an internal organ is mistakenly cut or injured. This form of bleeding is more dangerous because you won’t know you are bleeding; it is not easy to diagnose. 

Internal bleeding signs and symptoms include bloody vomit or stool, weakness, low blood pressure, dizziness, vision changes, chest pain, and abdominal pain.

There are also some rare cases where cosmetic surgery patients go into anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a severe life-threatening reaction to triggers such as an allergy. It usually requires urgent treatment; otherwise, it can lead to a fatal outcome.

In the case of cosmetic surgeries, anaphylaxis can be triggered by dermal fillers, which are made up of active ingredients like hyaluronic acid, poly-L-lactic acid, and hydroxylapatite. FDA reported anaphylactic shock as one of the risks associated with the use of dermal fillers.

When to seek medical attention after plastic surgery

Often after cosmetic surgeries, you will have to continue seeing your doctor for follow-up care. For highly invasive procedures, your healthcare team will have to follow up with you until the scars have healed and you are out of risk.

However, if after your surgery, you notice any abnormal symptoms such as the formation of pus on the scar site, bloody stool or vomit, a pool of blood under the skin, or visual problems, you should talk to your doctor.

Your doctor will examine you to ensure your symptoms are not complications arising as a result of the plastic surgery.

References

  1. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. (2020). Plastic surgery statistics report.
  2. Arab, Khalid et al. (2019). Influence of Social Media on the Decision to Undergo a Cosmetic Procedure.
  3. DeNoon, Daniel. (2005). Who gets plastic surgery and why.
  4. Miller, Leonard. (2017). Plastic surgery is no longer just for women. American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
  5. Molitor, M et al. (2016). Pulmonary embolism after abdominoplasty - Are we really able to avoid all complications? Case reports and litreature review.
  6. US Food and Drug Administration. (2021). Dermal fillers (soft tissue fillers).