Skip to main content


Serving Fresno and the Central Valley

Schedule a Consultation

How Safe is a Tummy Tuck?

Posted November 02, 2023 in Tummy Tuck Surgery

Are you tired of always dressing to hide your stomach? Do you think the high-waisted “mom jeans” trend is a blessing or a curse? Have you done all the dieting and exercise you can and still see little change in that pesky stomach pooch? It might be time to consider a tummy tuck.

Tummy tucks are consistently one of the top plastic surgery procedures in the U.S. In fact, in 2022, over 160,000 patients chose to slim and tighten their midsection with a tummy tuck. Even so, the thought of surgery makes some people nervous. They wonder, how safe is a tummy tuck?

Below, we explore some of the common complications after a tummy tuck and what you can do to help ensure a smooth surgery and recovery.

Woman touching her belly fat

What Are the Risks Associated With a Tummy Tuck?

Like any surgical procedure, a tummy tuck comes with risks. According to a 2015 study published in the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), about 3% of abdominoplasty patients experienced what are considered major complications. 

Before you write off surgery altogether, let’s talk about the top three major complications referred to in the study and how to prevent them.  


A hematoma occurs when blood collects in a space under the skin. It is not a blood clot. In the case of a tummy tuck, a hematoma typically happens if a small blood vessel ruptures a few days after surgery. It can be painful and, if left untreated, can lead to infection or scarring. To help prevent a hematoma, wear your post-surgical compression garment as instructed by your surgeon. 


Prior to your tummy tuck procedure, most surgeons will prescribe antibiotics as a precaution against infection. The best ways to help prevent your incision from becoming infected after surgery include:

  • Taking the entire course of antibiotics as directed
  • Keeping the incision area clean
  • Paying attention to any increased redness or swelling around the incision

If you develop a fever or tenderness in the surgical area, remember to have this address immediately as this is also a sign of infection.     

Blood Clots

After a tummy tuck, you will need to rest and refrain from any strenuous activities. However, this doesn’t mean that you should stay immobile all day. Blood clots are a risk after any surgery, and the less you move, the more likely they are to develop. The best way to prevent blood clots is to walk around (slowly) for a few minutes every hour. Elevating your legs and wearing compression stockings may also help. If you experience unexplained swelling, redness, warmth, or tenderness in your leg during recovery, these could be signs of a blood clot.

It should go without saying, but if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms of a hematoma, infection, or blood clot, you should immediately contact your surgeon. They want to ensure that your recovery is smooth and as free of complications as possible, so it’s always better to call them if you’re concerned at any point.  

How You Can Help Prevent Complications After a Tummy Tuck

Again, remember that while the complications mentioned can range from minor to severe, they are risks associated with undergoing any kind of surgery. 

You can also do your part to keep your recovery smooth and complication-free, such as:

  • No Smoking or Vaping: Nicotine constricts blood vessels, hindering blood flow to the wound site. This can cause slow wound healing and tissue damage.
  • Finding a Board-Certified Surgeon: Board-certified plastic surgeons have undergone rigorous education and training focused specifically on plastic surgery. They also must engage in continuing education and re-certify periodically.  
  • Following Your Surgeon’s Instructions: Your surgeon should have extensive experience with tummy tuck surgeries, and will give you specific post-surgical instructions. Follow them to the letter for the best results. 

Learn More About Tummy Tucks in Fresno

When you’re making the decision to undergo a tummy tuck, being educated about the procedure goes a long way toward easing your mind about your surgery and recovery. At Valley Institute of Plastic Surgery, board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Chin is committed to making sure that all your questions are answered and that your tummy tuck experience is as safe as possible. To schedule a consultation, call 559-435-9646 or fill out our online contact form