As with any medical or surgical procedure, there are risks associated with cosmetic procedures. At The Victorian Cosmetic Institute, we understand the risks involved with cosmetic procedures, and our awareness of these risks allows us to minimise their occurrence.

It is important to assess the potential risk for complications and side effects and balance them with the potential gain. If the potential for complications is too high and outweighs the possible benefit, it may be better to forgo the procedure. For example, if a young patient comes in requesting deep laser resurfacing for wrinkles that cannot really be seen, then the potential risk to benefit ratio may not be in the patients favour, and the procedure is not worth undergoing.

Video: This video is a segment from Today Tonight with case studies of serious complications that have occurred from cosmetic procedures. Dr. Gavin Chan comments in this video about the potential risks of cosmetic surgery.

Potential complications

Complications from cosmetic procedures can be divided into medical or surgical complications and cosmetic complications;

  • Medical or surgical complications are complications that can occur with any medical or surgical procedure or a cosmetic or non-cosmetic nature.
  • Cosmetic complications are complications of a cosmetic nature only e.g unevenness or asymmetry, and have no impact on the physical health of the patient.

Medical / surgical complications include; excessive bruising, excessive swelling, infection, pneumonia, blood loss, blood clots (e.g in the leg or lungs), anaesthetic complications, delayed healing, skin death / necrosis.

Cosmetic complications include; unevenness, asymmetry. lumps, hollows or a result that did not meet the patient’s expectations. Cosmetic complications can be corrected in many cases with further procedures.

Minimising complications

Although it is not possible to eliminate the possibility of complications completely, there are a number of things that can be done before and after your surgery/procedure to help minimise the potential risks of a cosmetic procedure.

These include;

  • Choosing an appropriate surgeon/doctor – although the outcome of the actual procedure or surgery itself relies greatly on the surgeon/doctor, you have the choice to pick the best person for the job. Choose someone with a good reputation, possibly someone who has been recommended to you by a previous patient who has been happy with their result. Look at the qualifications and experience of the doctor in the field they are in. Choosing a surgeon / doctor based primarily on price is not always a sound idea. There may be a reason for why someone charges less than the average or expected price for a certain procedure. On the flip side, a more expensive surgeon/ doctor doesn’t always guarantee you great results either. Feeling comfortable with your doctor / surgeon is very important. This will allow you to effectively communicate to them what you want, and how you are feeling before and after the
  • Seek another opinion – to see the differences between the doctors and what they propose. Is this the right procedure for you? Have more than one doctors concurred on the treatment?
  • Look at the clinic / environment – it is important to see that the environment the procedure is taking place in is of a professional standard. Has the surgery been accredited to certain standards? Does the surgery appear clean and professional?
  • Look at the staff – your experience at a clinic/surgery is going to be primarily determined by your interactions with the staff. Not only is the doctor performing your procedure, but you will have a lot of other staff members working together with the doctor as a team. It is important to ensure that you feel comfortable with all the staff present, including the receptionists, nurses, and the doctor.
  • Follow appropriate pre and post-operative instructions – make sure that you are clear about what to do before and after the procedure to maximise the chance of the best possible outcome.


There is potential for complications to occur with any medical or surgical procedure, and cosmetic procedures are certainly not exempt from this. Minimising the risk of a certain cosmetic procedure can be done by proper research before the procedure, as well as ensuring that you follow appropriate instructions before and after the procedure.