AESTHETIC MEDICINE AND SURGERY
SKIN CANCER AND DERMATOLOGIC SURGERY
All surgical procedures, even for patients in good health, carry some risk and can result in unpredictable complications.
It is of the utmost importance to implement all preventive measures to mitigate the risks where possible, by reducing and eliminating common risk factors such as smoke, obesity and concomitant disease, which are open to treatment before the operation. Likewise, it is crucial that patients follow meticulously all indications given by the surgeon post-operatively; correct wound management (sterility), intake of prescribed medications etc.
Despite the above-mentioned preventive measures, some complications may still occur, fortunately to a minor extent in the majority of cases. Systemic complications, e.g. anaesthesia-related, are very rare. The complications related to a face-neck lift are mainly:
- bleeding: minor bleeding is normal after the surgery and applying pressure with a swab is sufficient to control it;
- haematoma: a localised collection of blood – quite rare – which can occur within the first 24 hours after surgery. In the most severe cases it is necessary to re-open a portion of the wound to drain the blood and correct the root cause;
- infection: thanks to the post-operative antibiotic administration, the risk of infection is very low. If an infection does develop, further specific antibiotics and local disinfection are required;
- nerve conduction impairment: rarely, malfunction of sensory and motor nerves may occur resulting in a loss of sensation or weakening of the facial and neck muscles. This impairment is usually temporary and it may take a number of months for full recovery;
- skin slough: in extremely rare cases, skin damage may occur in the affected areas, because of reduced blood supply; if this happens it is generally behind the ear. The healing process causes scarring, which is usually inconspicuous and can be improved with a minor operation under local anaesthesia (scar revision), if necessary;
- alopecia (partial hair loss): alopecia is possible along the incisions in the scalp in the case of a temporal lift. Usually, over time, hair follicles recover with less visible bald areas. When necessary, surgical correction is possible under local anaesthesia;
- recurrence (re-descent of tissues): the ageing process – a loss of elasticity and tone in the tissues – is not halted by a face and neck lift; it does not impede the progression of tissue decent which occurs in a time scale unique to the individual;
- pathologic scars (hypertrophic/keloids): scarring, both as a consequence of a personal predisposition and of complications (e.g. infection, wound break-down), can develop pathologically: widened, uneven, pigmented scars. In such cases, once the scar has settled for at least 6-12 months, scar revision may be necessary.
It is noteworthy that for people in good health, whose pre-operative blood tests are within the normal range, statistics show that the incidence of serious complications is very low. If complications do occur it is crucial for patients to be emotionally stable in order to face and overcome them. In this respect, support from partners and/or relatives can play a major role in the recovery process, thus it is advisable to avoid having surgery without a support network. Additionally, an open and honest dialogue with the surgeon, who must be promptly notified of any doubts, is essential to correctly manage complications.