Can people with heart problems have plastic surgery? Understand – 06/19/2022

The search for perfection, for the achievement of the “ideal physical shape” and for a younger appearance make more and more people resort to cosmetic plastic surgery. We are among the countries with the highest number of procedures of this type in the world — among the most common are liposuction, abdominoplasty, facial and breast surgeries (augmentation or reduction). Data from the Brazilian Society of Plastic Surgery indicate that there are more than 1.5 million interventions every year.

But to what extent is it worth it? In addition to exerting an influence on self-esteem, it is possible that these procedures also bring health risks. In many situations, lack of care and exaggeration are triggers of serious complications.

I believe that everyone has already heard, for example, about a case of death or serious problem due to liposuction. Histories of cardiac arrest and adverse reactions to anesthetics. And why do they occur?

We can’t rule out the risks

First, we need to remember: plastic surgery, like any other surgery, involves risks and possible side effects. As much as, in the vast majority of cases, it is a matter of aesthetics, they will in some way — or in many ways — mess with the functioning of the organism, regardless of the specialty in which the intervention is performed.

Advances have taken place, this is a fact, making procedures increasingly safer, but even so, we are talking about surgery and, therefore, the need for special care and attention.

Main complications

In the case of liposuction, some of the risks involve fat embolism (occlusion of small vessels by fat droplets), seroma (excess fluid retained near the scar, causing inflammation) and bruising — consequences that can also manifest in other procedures currently offered. .

The list of frequent complications also includes: respiratory problems, implant rejection, sensory and skin disorders, tissue necrosis, asymmetry, bleeding, pain and allergic reactions, in addition to infections – the possibility of an infection occurring is small, usually less 1%, but it exists and cannot be ignored.

In the postoperative period of a major surgery, such as an abdominoplasty or mammoplasty, there is still the chance of thrombosis, that is, the formation of clots, usually in the veins of the legs, and the risk of pulmonary embolism.

That’s because if the clot migrates to the lung and causes a blockage in blood circulation, it can cause a decompensation of the heart’s functioning, with a decrease in the volume of blood to the body and even the risk of death.

Here we can list some factors that increase the chances of this type of complication: obesity, previous history of thrombosis and varicose veins of the lower limbs, serious or out-of-control chronic conditions (such as high blood pressure or diabetes), smoking, age over 40 years, prolonged use of oral contraceptives, drug use, certain medications, many associated surgeries and even the time to perform them — very long operations tend to exponentially increase the risks.

But after all, can a patient with heart problems undergo plastic surgery or not?

The answer is complex and of great responsibility, which should not be summarized in a simple yes or no. In general, the heart is an organ with a low probability of being affected by plastic surgery, provided that it is well evaluated preoperatively. As we have seen, there are a number of issues to consider.

The cardiovascular systems of those undergoing general anesthesia and surgical procedures are subject to multiple stresses and complications. The heart, as our vital pump, is required in such a scenario. Therefore, it needs to be in good health to deal with a probable overload, even if small.


Thus, before any type of intervention, it is essential that both physicians and patients have a clear understanding of any conditions present that may be the trigger for the emergence of a cardiovascular complication, such as an arrhythmia (abnormal, irregular, very fast or slow).

Cardiological problems added to the metabolic and circulatory stress that any surgery causes can be life-threatening. Blood loss, release of substances into the circulation, hypothermia, myocardial ischemia, and effects of drugs or medications administered as a result of the procedure are possible.

Untreated or unstable heart disease, for example, under the effects of anesthesia can trigger an arrhythmia and even cause a heart attack — most anesthetics are respiratory and cardiac depressants, which means they affect the normal beating of the heart.

This is even in healthy individuals. In those with a preexisting cardiac issue, these possible anesthetic effects become much more worrisome, as patients may not tolerate large fluctuations in frequency and pressure.

Another situation: an individual with high blood pressure can undergo a tummy tuck — or any other procedure, as long as their pressure is controlled. Hypertension is a chronic disease caused by high levels of blood pressure in the arteries, which requires the heart to exert a greater than normal effort to circulate blood through the vessels. Thus, plastic surgery on someone with uncontrolled pressure can be extremely dangerous.

Before any surgery…

You need to be aware of the additional precautions that must be taken. And the patient is not always aware of this at the time of the plastic surgery decision. Some only discover problems when the surgeon requests a cardiological evaluation before the desired procedure.

Today, these interventions offer a high degree of safety. Even so, again, we are talking about surgery, and as such it requires attention in pre, intra and postoperative care. That is, patients need to be evaluated following the same rigorous standards adopted for other surgical procedures.

Therefore, the more complete the check-up, the more security. This is where the heart conditions are known to reduce complications during the operation, such as hypertension, heart failure, arrhythmia or the presence of diabetes, dyslipidemia (high cholesterol), obesity, among others.

Unlike other emergency surgeries, plastic surgery can usually be expected, planned and even reviewed – and here it is worth a parenthesis: plastic surgery is not always for vanity, since it is also used for important physical corrections. In such cases, there is often urgency.

Finally, it is necessary to keep in mind that in the postoperative period the body is recovering, with the immune system compromised. A small reaction can turn into a big infection. Therefore, care must be maintained until full recovery.

Therefore, the importance of the professional and the place of surgery is evident. Attention and criteria are needed when choosing the clinic and the doctor who will perform the procedure.

About Abhishek Pratap

Food maven. Unapologetic travel fanatic. MCU's fan. Infuriatingly humble creator. Award-winning pop culture ninja.

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