Does Plastic Surgery Cause Nerve Damage?
Any surgery carries a small risk of serious nerve damage—including facial plastic surgery. How concerned should you be, exactly? And is there anything you can do to decrease the risk of complications?
How Does Nerve Damage Happen?
Every time you cut your skin, some minor nerves will be damaged. This is why any scars you might have lack some of the feeling of normal skin. Over time, the healing process causes this type of minor nerve damage to become hardly noticeable. In the same way, a lot of plastic surgery procedures may give you temporary symptoms that will gradually disappear over a few weeks or months—this is entirely normal.
When a surgeon makes an incision in your skin, there is always a risk of more serious, permanent nerve damage. The deeper and more extensive the incision, the greater the risk. (Incidentally, this is part of the reason why some of the best surgeons advocate conservative procedures—they’re much safer!) Consequences of damage range from tinging or numbness (if a sensory nerve is affected) to reduced muscle function (if a motor nerve is affected). Merely “bumping” a nerve may cause these symptoms for just a few months, but actually severing a nerve can result in lasting loss of function.
This all sounds a bit scary, but the good news is that surgeons undergo many years of training to avoid complications precisely like this one.
How You Can Reduce Your Risk
First, you can make sure you see a skilled plastic surgeon who specializes in the kind of treatment you desire. This means seeing a facial plastic surgeon for any facial procedures, for instance. In addition, you can search for someone with a lot of relevant experience: certain surgeons perform dozens of rhinoplasties every year, while others only perform a few. If your surgeon has done the same procedure over and over again, you can be more confident that he or she will have an advanced knowledge of the relevant anatomy, and will know how to avoid any complications associated with that particular procedure.
Second, try to find a surgeon who is happy to discuss the details of the surgery with you. A good surgeon will be able to explain the risks, and put you entirely at ease before commencing the procedure. There are certain questions that you should expect your surgeon to answer satisfactorily. If you feel that your surgeon isn’t taking you seriously enough or taking the time to explain things, it might be time to find another one!
Dr. Siegel is Houston’s specialist facial plastic surgeon. While many other plastic surgeons are jacks-of-all-trades, and try their hand at everything from facelifts to breast augmentation to body liposuction, Dr. Siegel concentrates specifically on the face. He prides himself on his friendly bedside manner, and will take the time to explain your procedure and assuage any fears you might have about complications such as nerve damage.
Thinking of having cosmetic surgery? Have more questions? Make an appointment with Dr. Siegel today!