While cosmetic surgery tends to be glamorised by high profile celebrities and wealthy individuals, surgery of any kind comes with risks. So while the end result may be alluring it’s important to consider the pros and cons of cosmetic surgery and decide if it is right for you.

These risks – such as bleeding, infection, scarring, and anaesthesia-related problems – are not only dangerous but can cause death on rare occasions. In 2005, Nigeria’s first lady died after undergoing plastic surgery in Spain, although the exact procedure and cause of death was never made public.  

This article on cosmetic surgery UK is written by Jackie Griffiths, a freelance journalist who writes health, medical, biological, and pharmaceutical articles for national and international journals, newsletters and web sites.

Despite the hazards, cosmetic surgery is as popular as ever, with millions of people going under the knife every year. Women are the largest consumers, making up around 85% of all patients.

Cosmetic surgery performed by board-certified plastic surgeons has an excellent safety record. Your surgeon will tell you if your risk factor is above average, for instance if you:

  • are extremely overweight
  • have had a recent traumatic injury
  • have any disorder of the heart, lungs, or central nervous system
  • have a history of cancer, recurrent severe infection, or genetic problems that affect blood clotting
  • take oral contraceptives
  • are undergoing hormone-replacement therapy

Here are some of the risks associated with the more popular types of cosmetic surgery.

Breast augmentation

Breast implants have also been linked with changes in nipple and breast sensation, the inability to breastfeed, hardening of the breast, and asymmetry. There is a possibility that breast implants may interfere with mammography, which could hinder the early detection of breast cancer.


Although the majority of cosmetic surgery patients get the result they wanted, others have suffered serious complications. The most feared is ‘fat embolism syndrome’, where fat is loosened during the procedure and pieces lodge in the lungs, potentially causing death. Other complications include: numbness, burns, dimples in the skin, and accidental organ puncture. Most of these problems can usually be avoided under an experienced surgeon, so make sure your doctor is suitably qualified.

Botox injections

This is a relatively new non-surgical procedure that has shot to popularity. Botox stands for botulinum toxin, which causes food poisoning outbreaks. When used in cosmetics, however, it can stop muscle concentration and eliminate frown lines. The risks associated with botox include: headache, flu-like symptoms, redness at the injection site, and muscle weakness. If the wrong facial area is injected, you can be left with drooping eyelids for several weeks. Since the effect of botox is only temporary, repeat injections are needed every six months to avoid frown lines.

Surgical risks

Since any surgery carries risk, it is important to know what you’re letting yourself in for by opting to have cosmetic surgery. While it is highly likely that you will have a trouble-free operation and recovery, there is always a chance that something will go wrong. Often, cosmetic surgery means performing an operation on a physically healthy individual, so it’s important to consider your good health as your most precious asset.

Anaesthesia – some people have bad reactions to being sedated, and may experience: abnormal heart rhythm, airway obstruction, blood clots, brain damage, heart attack, malignant hyperthermia, nerve damage, stroke, temporary paralysis, or even death.

Aspiration – occurs if you vomit during surgery and it is forced into the lungs. Besides mild discomfort, it can cause infections, a chronic cough, obstruction in the lungs, or pneumonia.

Blood loss – is normal with any procedure, however losing an excessive amount can cause major complications, such as severe anaemia. Bleeding after surgery can accumulate under the skin and require a second operation if it doesn’t absorb into the body.

Blood clots – in the veins can be fatal. Longer procedures and time under general anaesthesia can increase the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT). If you’re having liposuction in your legs you are at greater risk.

Drop in blood pressure – a sudden drop due to blood loss can cause an irregular heartbeat and possibly a heart attack.

Infection – the risk is less than 1% and antibiotics reduce this further. However, if infection does arise, it can be serious. If you smoke, take steroids, or have certain vascular conditions you are at greater risk.

Loose sutures – if your sutures come loose this can lead to internal bleeding or a hernia, and would require a further operation.

Skin death or necrosis – may occur after an infection or haematoma, and is much more likely in smokers.

Slow healing – may occur due to age, skin type, or failure to follow the doctor’s advice.

Numbness and tingling – due to injured nerves is often temporary but can sometimes be permanent.

Seroma – is where fluid collects under the skin, possibly after breast augmentation, liposuction, or tummy tuck.

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