What Happens When A Tummy Tuck Goes Wrong?

Have you ever wondered about the potential risks and complications associated with a tummy tuck procedure? In this article, we will explore the unforeseen consequences that can occur when a tummy tuck goes wrong. From unsightly scarring to infection and even nerve damage, understanding these potential pitfalls can help you make an informed decision before undergoing this cosmetic surgery. So, let’s delve into the world of unfortunate outcomes that can arise from a tummy tuck gone awry.

What Happens When A Tummy Tuck Goes Wrong?

Complications During Surgery


During a tummy tuck surgery, there is a risk of developing an infection. This can occur when bacteria enters the surgical site and starts multiplying. Signs of infection may include redness, swelling, warmth, and increased pain around the incision site. If left untreated, the infection can spread and cause serious complications.

Excessive bleeding

Another potential complication during a tummy tuck is excessive bleeding. While some bleeding is normal during the procedure, excessive bleeding can lead to anemia, blood clots, and compromised healing. It is important for the surgical team to closely monitor the patient’s blood loss and take necessary steps to control any excessive bleeding.

Nerve damage

Nerve damage can occur during a tummy tuck surgery, particularly if the procedure involves extensive tissue manipulation. This can result in temporary or permanent numbness, tingling sensations, or nerve pain. Nerve damage can impact both the surgical area and nearby regions, making it essential for surgeons to exercise utmost caution during the procedure.

Unsatisfactory Cosmetic Results


One potential consequence of a tummy tuck gone wrong is asymmetry. This occurs when there is a noticeable difference in the shape, size, or position of the treated area. Asymmetry can negatively impact the overall aesthetic outcome and may require additional corrective procedures to achieve a balanced appearance.

Irregular scarring

Scarring is an inevitable part of any surgical procedure, including tummy tucks. However, when a tummy tuck goes wrong, patients may experience irregular scarring. This can manifest as thick, raised keloid scars or stretched, widened scars. It is important to follow proper scar care techniques and consult with a plastic surgeon if the scarring becomes problematic.

Prolonged swelling and bruising

Swelling and bruising are to be expected after a tummy tuck surgery. However, when these symptoms persist for an extended period or become more severe than anticipated, it could indicate a complication. Prolonged swelling and bruising can lead to discomfort and dissatisfaction with the final results, requiring further medical attention.

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Chronic Pain and Discomfort

Persistent pain

Chronic pain can occur following a tummy tuck gone wrong. This pain may be localized to the surgical site or radiate to other areas of the body. Persistent pain can significantly impact the patient’s quality of life, hindering their ability to perform daily activities and enjoy physical activities. It is crucial to address and manage this pain through various interventions.


Numbness is another potential side effect of a tummy tuck procedure. When nerves are damaged or affected during surgery, it can lead to loss of sensation in the abdomen and surrounding areas. Numbness may persist for an extended period or, in some cases, become a permanent condition. Patients should communicate any changes in sensation to their surgeon for appropriate guidance.

Sensation changes

In addition to numbness, sensation changes such as hypersensitivity or altered tactile perception can occur after a tummy tuck. These changes can range from mild discomfort to heightened sensitivity, making the surgical area more sensitive to touch or temperature. Understanding these potential complications is crucial for managing expectations and seeking appropriate medical attention if needed.

What Happens When A Tummy Tuck Goes Wrong?

Delayed Healing

Wound dehiscence

Delayed wound healing or wound dehiscence is a potential complication after a tummy tuck surgery. This occurs when the incision site fails to heal properly, leading to the separation of the wound edges. Wound dehiscence can result in infection, delayed recovery, and the need for additional interventions such as wound packing or surgical closure.

Skin necrosis

Skin necrosis refers to the death of skin and tissue around the surgical site. This can occur due to impaired blood supply, infection, or inadequate wound healing. Skin necrosis can leave a noticeable area of discolored or blackened skin and may require debridement or other surgical interventions to promote healthy tissue regeneration.

Seroma formation

Seroma refers to the buildup of fluid between layers of tissue, typically at the surgical site. When a tummy tuck goes wrong, the risk of seroma formation increases. Seromas can cause discomfort, swelling, and delayed wound healing. In some cases, surgical drainage may be necessary to resolve the seroma and promote proper healing.

Serious Infections


Serious infections can occur following a tummy tuck surgery, with pneumonia being a potential complication. Pneumonia is a respiratory infection that can develop when bacteria or viruses enter the lungs. This can happen if proper precautions are not taken during the surgery or if the patient’s post-operative care is inadequate. Pneumonia requires immediate medical attention to prevent further complications.


Sepsis is a life-threatening condition that can arise from an infection. It occurs when the body’s response to infection causes widespread inflammation, leading to organ dysfunction. In rare cases, sepsis can develop as a complication of a tummy tuck gone wrong. Recognizing the signs of sepsis, such as fever, rapid heart rate, and confusion, is crucial for timely intervention.

MRSA infection

MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) is a type of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that can cause severe infections. When a tummy tuck surgery is performed in an environment with poor infection control, there is a risk of acquiring an MRSA infection. This can lead to prolonged hospital stays, multiple surgeries, and significant morbidity. Ensuring proper sterilization protocols and precautions are followed can help prevent MRSA infections.

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Emotional and Psychological Impact

Body image dissatisfaction

When a tummy tuck goes wrong, patients may experience body image dissatisfaction. Unsatisfactory cosmetic results, such as asymmetry or irregular scarring, can negatively impact self-esteem and body confidence. It is important to address these emotional concerns and provide psychological support to help patients cope with the emotional impact of a failed tummy tuck.


The emotional toll of a tummy tuck gone wrong can contribute to feelings of depression. The disappointment, frustration, and physical discomfort associated with poor surgical outcomes can significantly affect mental well-being. Identifying signs of depression, such as persistent sadness, loss of interest, or changes in appetite, is crucial for timely intervention and appropriate support.


Anxiety is another common emotional response when a tummy tuck does not produce the desired results. Patients may experience heightened worry, fear, or distress about their appearance and potential future surgical interventions. Recognizing the signs of anxiety, such as restlessness, irritability, or difficulty sleeping, is important for providing appropriate support and promoting overall well-being.

Revision Surgery and its Risks

Scar revision

In cases where scarring from a tummy tuck is unsatisfactory, scar revision surgery may be considered. Scar revision aims to improve the appearance of existing scars through various techniques. However, it is essential to recognize that scar revision comes with its own set of risks, including the potential for additional scarring, changes in skin pigmentation, or further complications.

Fat grafting

Fat grafting may be an option for patients seeking revision surgery after an unsatisfactory tummy tuck. This procedure involves transferring fat from one area of the body to the treated area to improve contour and symmetry. However, it is important to understand that fat grafting also carries risks, such as uneven results, fat absorption, or potential complications associated with the harvesting and transplantation process.

Risks associated with multiple surgeries

Undergoing revision surgery after a failed tummy tuck means subjecting the body to additional surgical procedures. This increases the overall risks associated with multiple surgeries, including anesthesia complications, prolonged recovery periods, and potential complications specific to each subsequent procedure. It is crucial to thoroughly discuss the risks and benefits of revision surgery with a highly qualified and experienced plastic surgeon.

Medical Malpractice Claims


In cases where a tummy tuck goes wrong due to medical negligence, patients may pursue a medical malpractice claim. Negligence can occur if the surgeon fails to provide the standard of care expected in the given situation. This may include inadequate pre-operative assessments, surgical errors, or lack of informed consent. It is important to consult with a qualified medical malpractice attorney to evaluate the potential case and seek appropriate legal advice.


Miscommunication between the patient and the surgical team can also contribute to complications during a tummy tuck surgery. If important medical information, expectations, or risks are not properly communicated and understood by both parties, it can lead to misunderstandings and potential surgical errors. Open and honest communication is essential to ensure a safe and successful surgical experience.

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Surgical errors

Surgical errors, such as incorrect incision placement or improper suture techniques, can occur during a tummy tuck surgery. These errors can have lasting consequences and result in failed surgical outcomes. It is important for surgeons to have extensive training, experience, and attention to detail to minimize the risk of surgical errors and ensure patient safety.

Financial Costs

Additional surgery expenses

When a tummy tuck goes wrong, patients may incur additional expenses related to revision surgeries or treatments to address complications. These can include surgeon fees, facility costs, anesthesia fees, and any necessary post-operative care. It is important to consider the potential financial implications of revision surgeries and complications when planning for a tummy tuck procedure.

Lost wages from time off work

Recovering from a tummy tuck gone wrong may require an extended period away from work to heal and attend medical appointments. This can result in lost wages and financial strain. It is advisable to discuss and plan for potential time off work with employers or explore options for short-term disability benefits to alleviate the financial burden during the recovery process.

Psychological therapy costs

The emotional and psychological impact of a failed tummy tuck can often benefit from professional therapeutic support. Seeking therapy or counseling services to address body image concerns, depression, or anxiety may be necessary. While these services can be an added expense, they play a crucial role in helping patients navigate the emotional aftermath of a tummy tuck gone wrong.

Prevention and Reducing Risks

Choosing a qualified surgeon

Selecting a qualified and experienced plastic surgeon is paramount to minimizing the risks of a tummy tuck gone wrong. Researching a surgeon’s credentials, certifications, and patient testimonials can provide valuable insights into their expertise and patient satisfaction rates. It is also important to have thorough consultations, ask questions, and discuss realistic expectations before committing to any surgical procedure.

Understanding risks and potential outcomes

Before undergoing a tummy tuck surgery, it is essential to have a comprehensive understanding of the potential risks and possible outcomes. Discussing these aspects with the surgeon during the initial consultation will help set realistic expectations and ensure an informed decision-making process. Understanding the potential risks can also empower patients to actively participate in their own care and recovery.

Following post-operative care instructions

Proper post-operative care plays a crucial role in minimizing complications and promoting successful healing after a tummy tuck surgery. Following the surgeon’s instructions regarding wound care, activity restrictions, and medication management is important. Any concerns or changes observed during the recovery should be promptly communicated to the medical team for appropriate evaluation and guidance.

In conclusion, a tummy tuck surgery, like any surgical procedure, comes with potential risks and complications. Being aware of these complications, understanding the importance of selecting a qualified surgeon, and thoroughly discussing all aspects with the surgical team can help minimize the chances of a tummy tuck gone wrong. Recognizing the signs of complications and seeking timely medical attention is crucial for achieving the best possible outcomes and ensuring both physical and emotional well-being throughout the surgical journey.

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Brielle Brooks

My initial goal to inform people about tummy tucks both pre-surgery and post-surgery has evolved into a commitment to share my research to as many people as possible. There are risks involved and safeguards to be aware of. Disclaimer, this site is for informational purposes only. But information gives us strength to make informed decisions!

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