Strange Side Effects: What’s Normal, What’s Not

Pretty much every procedure you undergo will have some sort of side effect, and that includes plastic surgery procedures. From slight bruising and tenderness to the leaking of fluids and loss of sensation, there is an extensive list of side-effects you may experience following your plastic surgery procedure. But while some side effects are normal, others are not, and may indicate signs of a life-threatening problem. Whether you’re already recovering or you’re considering undergoing a plastic surgery procedure, familiarize yourself with some of these lesser-known side effects of some common procedures.

Numbness / Tingling

Many women who undergo a mommy makeover or abdominoplasty are not surprised to learn that the abdomen may experience a total or partial loss of sensation following the procedure. This is because of the nerves that are cut when the incision in the abdomen is made. For those patients who have already undergone a C-section prior to their abdominoplasty, they may already have no sensation in that portion of their abdomen, so this will be nothing new, but it is often a strange sensation for women to adjust to following their procedure if they have never had a C-section before. Thankfully, this loss of feeling is totally normal and does not indicate a problem.

In some rare cases, patients who undergo an abdominoplasty may experience a loss of sensation in one or both thighs following their procedure. This happens when the surgeon cuts the lateral cutaneous nerve of the thigh. In some cases, this numbness may only be temporary, but in others, it may be permanent. Unfortunately, it can take up to two years for this nerve to heal, so it is impossible to tell if the damage will be permanent or not immediately following the procedure.


A seroma is a condition that occurs when fluids build up along the incision line at the surface of the skin. They can be common after a tummy tuck procedure, and require an additional surgery to correct. To prevent seromas, in many cases, surgeons will place a surgical drain along the incision before stitching the incision closed. The drain will need to be emptied regularly, and the fluid levels recorded. Once the fluids drain slowly enough that your surgeon is satisfied, the drain can be removed and the opening will be allowed to heal on its own.


A hematoma is a large pool of blood below the skin that is similar to a bruise. More common in breast implant surgeries and facelifts, hematomas often require a second surgery to drain the blood.

Anesthesia Complications

Recently, a Croatian reality star made headlines for developing a condition called a priapism following a plastic surgery procedure on his nose. A priapism is defined as a penile erection lasting more than four hours, that is not caused by stimuli and that does not go away on its own or in the absence of stimuli. Though the man’s priapism was not caused by the surgery itself, it was caused by the drug Propofol, a common sedative given to patients prior to and during anesthesia. Though priapism is rare, it does occur, and in severe cases may require medical intervention to correct.

Other anesthesia complications can include stroke, lung infection, heart attack, paralysis and even death.


Cellulitis is a rare but not impossible side-effect that occurs after breast implant surgery. It is caused by a bacterial infection on the skin, usually along the incision line. There are two main types of bacteria responsible for cellulitis- streptococcus and staphylococcus.  Cellulitis can cause redness and swelling but generally responds well to Bactrim and antibiotics.

While most of these complications are rare, it’s important to pay attention to your body post-operation. Follow the care sheet provided by Dr. Chau to reduce the risk of developing any of these painful side effects. If you believe you may have one of these complications or aren’t sure if a condition you are experiencing is cause for concern, please give Dr. Chau’s office a call at 888-966-9471.