Risks common to all operations
- Postoperative bleeding. After many operations there is some bruising but if there should be a more major bleed so that a “lake” of blood (haematoma) collects at the operation site then you may have to have another anaesthetic to remove this and make sure that bleeding is not ongoing. This can happen across the whole spectrum of surgery but is relatively uncommon. Most surgeons would encounter this complication 3 – 4 times a year.
- Wound infection
- Numb areas of skin
- Scars. Although incisions can be stitched with buried absorbable material so that there are no stitch marks, any incision leaves a scar. When first healed these are thin lines but over the next 2 to 5 months all scars go through the hypertrophic phase of scarring during which the scar becomes thicker and pink and tight (and itchy). How thick, pink and tight varies greatly from person to person and from body site to body site. The shoulder and breastbone areas are the worst sites for hypertrophic scarring. Normally, beyond 5 – 6 months, and over the next year or so, this phase gradually resolves leaving a scar that is a flat white line. However in a minority of cases the hypertrophic phase persists long term. Rarely a scar forms a true keloid where the scar actually grows beyond the original site. True keloid scars are more common in african and asian skins than they are in people of european ethnicity.
- Deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. There is a very low risk with general anaesthetics of having blood clots form in the thigh or pelvic veins. If these clots break off they can travel to the lungs where they obstruct blood flow and are dangerous if large. With anaesthetics greater than an hour I normally have intermittent calf compression devices applied to promote venous blood flow and if there are any preoperative risk factors or history of previous venous thrombosis, use low dose anticoagulants.
- Atypical reactions to anaesthetic agents.