Background: Abdominoplasty is one of the most commonly performed cosmetic operative procedures. Few large studies have examined outcomes of cosmetic abdominoplasty in a community setting. The authors explored postoperative outcome and the preoperative and intraoperative factors that may contribute to these complications.
Methods: A retrospective review of consecutive patients undergoing abdominoplasty over an 11-year period was performed. Baseline patient demographics, intraoperative technique, and postoperative outcomes were recorded. Preoperative and intraoperative characteristics were analyzed to determine characteristics that predispose patients to complications and undesirable outcomes.
Results: The 1008 study patients underwent either a full or modified abdominoplasty with a total complication rate of 32.6 percent. The most common complication was seroma (15.4 percent). Liposuction of the abdominal flap was performed in 469 patients (46.5 percent) and liposuction of the flanks was performed in 555 patients (55.1 percent). Chi-square analysis followed by logistic regression revealed that liposuction of the flanks and abdomen was independently associated with seroma formation in addition to major and minor complications (p < 0.05).
Conclusions: Seroma formation following abdominoplasty is the most common complication. Concomitant liposuction of the flanks and abdomen with the addition of aggressive undermining leads to higher seroma rates. This association is likely multifactorial and may be secondary to increased resorptive demands placed on the abdominal lymphatics in the setting of greater dead space and larger fluid shifts as a result of liposuction. To reduce seroma rates, surgeons should avoid aggressive liposuction and undermining, particularly in high-risk patients.
CLINICAL QUESTION/LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Risk, III.