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Introduction

Fighting the effects of aging on the outside; your guide to the risks of cosmetic surgical and non-surgical procedures

Trying to fight the effects of aging? Below is a basic guide to the risks involved in both surgical and non-surgical cosmetic procedures. For more information on each procedure, click on the highlighted links of the procedure.

Cosmetic Procedures: Surgical

Breast Augmentation: Breasts are enlarged by placing an implant behind each breast.

Risks:

  • implants can rupture, leak, and deflate
  • infection
  • hardening of scar tissue around implant, causing breast firmness, pain, distorted shape, or implant movement
  • bleeding
  • pain
  • nipples may get more or less sensitive
  • numbness near incision blood collection around implant/incision
  • calcium deposits around implant
  • harder to find breast lumps and to see breast changes on a mammogram
  • in rare instances, implants can cause anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) - a rare cancer of the immune system

Breast Lift - Extra skin is removed from the breast to raise and reshape breast.

Risks:

  • scarring
  • skin loss
  • infection loss of feeling in nipples or breast
  • nipples put in the wrong place
  • breasts not symmetrical

Breast Reduction - Fat, tissue, and skin is removed from breast.

Risks:

  • if nipples and areola are detached, may lose sensation and decreased ability to breastfeed
  • bleeding
  • infection
  • scarring
  • harder to find breast lumps
  • poor shape, size, or position of nipples or breasts

Eyelid Surgery: Extra fat, skin, and muscle in the upper and/or lower eyelid is removed to correct "droopy" eyelids.

Risks:

Facelift: Extra fat is removed, muscles are tightened, and skin is rewrapped around the face and neck to improve sagging facial skin, jowls, and loose neck skin.

Risks:

  • infection
  • bleeding under skin
  • scarring
  • irregular earlobes
  • nerve damage causing numbness or inability to move your face
  • hair loss
  • skin damage

Facial Implant: infection feeling of tightness or scarring around implant shifting of implant

Risks:

  • infection
  • feeling of tightness or scarring around implant
  • shifting of implant

Forehead Lift: Extra skin and muscles that cause wrinkles are removed, eyebrows are lifted, and forehead skin is tightened.

Risks:

  • infection
  • scarring
  • bleeding under skin
  • eye dryness or irritation
  • impaired eyelid function
  • loss of feeling in eyelid skin
  • injury to facial nerve causing loss of motion or muscle weakness

Lip Augmentation: Material is injected or implanted into the lips to create fuller lips and reduce wrinkles around the mouth.

Risks:

  • infection
  • bleeding
  • lip asymmetry
  • lumping
  • scarring

Liposuction: Excess fat from a targeted area is removed with a vacuum to shape the body.

Risks:

  • baggy skin
  • skin may change color and fall off
  • fluid retention
  • toxic shock
  • infection that requires antibiotics or additional surgery
  • burning
  • fat clots in the lungs
  • pain
  • damage to organs if punctured
  • numbness at the surgery site
  • heart problems
  • kidney problems
  • disability
  • death

Nose Surgery: Nose is reshaped by resculpting the bone and cartilage in the nose.

Risks:

  • infection
  • bursting blood vessels
  • red spots
  • bleeding under the skin
  • scarring

Tummy Tuck: Extra fat and skin in the abdomen is removed, and muscles are tightened to flatten tummy.

Risks:

  • blood clots
  • infection
  • bleeding
  • scarring
  • fluid accumulation under the skin

Quick GuidePlastic Surgery: Before and After Photos of Cosmetic Surgeries

Plastic Surgery: Before and After Photos of Cosmetic Surgeries

Cosmetic Procedures: Non-Surgical

Botox Injection: Botox is injected into a facial muscle to paralyze it, so lines don't form when a person frowns or squints.

Risks:

  • face pain
  • muscle weakness
  • flu-like symptoms
  • headaches
  • loss of facial expression
  • droopy eyelids
  • asymmetric smile
  • drooling

Collagen/fat Injection: Collagen from a cow or fat from your thigh or abdomen is injected into facial wrinkles, pits, or scars.

Risks:

  • trigger an autoimmune disease
  • contour problems
  • hives
  • rash
  • swelling
  • flu-like symptoms

Dermabrasion: A small, spinning wheel or brush with a roughened surface removes the upper layers of facial skin. A new layer of skin appears during healing, giving the face a smoother appearance. Used to treat facial scars, heavy wrinkles, and problems like rosacea.

Risks:

Hyaluronic acid injection: This gel is injected into your face to smooth lines, wrinkles, and scars on the skin.

Risks:

  • swelling
  • infection
  • redness
  • tenderness
  • acne
  • lumps
  • tissue hardening
  • risks unknown if used in combination with collagen

Laser hair removal: Laser light is passed over the skin to remove hair.

Risks:

  • hair regrowth
  • scarring
  • change in skin color

Laser skin resurfacing: Laser light is used to remove wrinkles, lines, age spots, scars, moles, tattoos, and warts from the surface of the skin.

Risks:

  • burns
  • scarring
  • change in skin color
  • infection
  • herpes flare-up (fever, facial pain, and flu-like symptoms)

Sclerotherapy: A solution is injected into spider and varicose leg veins (small purple and red blood vessels) to remove the veins.

Risks:

  • blood clots
  • color changes in the skin
  • vein removal may not be permanent
  • scarring

Chemical Peel: A solution is put onto the face (or parts of the face) that causes the skin to blister and peel off. It is replaced with new skin.

Risks:

  • whiteheads
  • Infection
  • raised scarring
  • allergic reaction
  • cold sores
  • color changes or blotchiness
  • heart problems

Tooth Whiteners (peroxide agents):Depending on the product, either you or the dentist applies peroxide using strips; a mouth guard with gel; or a tray inside your mouth around your teeth

Risks:

  • If not customized for you by a dentist or dental hygienist, there may be unknown ingredients and unknown results

Medically reviewed by Michael J. Wheatley, MD; American Board of Plastic Surgery

SOURCE: The National Women's Health Information Center (www4woman.gov) Last update: 5/19/2005

Last Editorial Review: 5/19/2005

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Reviewed on 5/19/2005
References
Medically reviewed by Michael J. Wheatley, MD; American Board of Plastic Surgery

SOURCE: The National Women's Health Information Center (www4woman.gov) Last update: 5/19/2005

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