"Common risks associated with any surgery on any part of your body"


Modern anesthesia given by trained experienced anesthetic is very safe and complications are very rare. However, you should keep in mind that there are very serious complications that can occur due to general anesthesia. This includes, lung infection, heart failure or attack, failure of other body organs, stroke, and reaction to the anesthetic medication or death. Any of these complications though possible, are incredibly rare! The risk is slightly more if you have poor general health and other medical diseases such as problems with heart, lung, liver or kidney.

This will be discussed by the anesthetic before the operation.


Bleeding Problems during Surgery

Some bleeding is expected during surgery, but rarely, bleeding beyond the normal amount can make a transfusion necessary. If bleeding is severe enough to cause a crisis, surgery may be terminated or a significant transfusion may be necessary.

Blood Clots Caused by Surgery

Blood clots in the veins of your leg, often referred to as a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) are a significant risk of surgery. These are very uncommon with head and neck operations. Clots can become a critical complication if they begin to travel through the bloodstream and lodge in the lung, a condition referred to as a pulmonary embolus, or to the brain, causing a stroke or “brain attack”. To minimize this risk, for high risk patients, I givea medication to “thin the blood” to help prevent formation of clots.

You should let us know if you smoke or have had a previous DVT as you will be in the high risk group for DVT.

Infection after Surgery

Infection is a risk of operation because acut in your skin or internal body lining creates an opportunity for bugs to enter the body, even though surgery is done in a very clean environment. Diabetics or patients with weak health have a higher risk. To reduce its risk, most high-risk patients or healthy patients with high risk operation will receive antibioticsbefore and after surgery. We will also use special precautions when changing dressings to help prevent infections.

You can also help reduce this risk by following general cleanliness and insisting that any visitor wash their hands before meeting you.

Delayed Healing After Surgery

You may have a difficult recovery and take longer to heal than others if you have other illness, an immune system problem, or sickness in the weeks before your surgery. Diabetics typically have a longer healing time, especially if blood sugar levels are not well controlled.In addition, smokers have poor wound healing and I strongly recommend that you stop smoking.

Numbness & Tingling After Surgery

Many patients experience numbness and tingling around their cut on their skin. For some it is a temporary condition; others find it to be a permanent complication. When making the cut on your skin, we also cut through minute sensory nerves, which send messages between the body and the brain. If enough nerves are cut, the area surrounding the surgical site may have numbness or a tingling sensation.Depending on the location of the damage, the nerve may regenerate, allowing sensation to return to the area over the course of weeks or months. In other cases, damage to the nerves may be too great for the body to repair, resulting in permanent numbness or tingling.

Swelling and bruising after surgery

Bruising and swelling is considered a normal part of the healing process after surgery. The severity can be influenced by many factors including the type of surgery, the amount of force required to complete the surgery, your health and the type of care given after surgery. Ice cold compresses and other similar remedies may speed the resolution of your swelling. In most cases, this starts to settle down after a week or two.

Scarring after surgery

All patients with a cut on their skin will have a scar. This may be obvious initially, but usually gets faint and less visible with time. Smokers and diabetics (with poor blood sugar control), are known to have more than normal scarring. Scarring also happens under your skin that leads to stiffness in the area of operation. It is advisable to massage with good quality moisturizers to reduce the extent of scarring after the skin cut has healed sufficiently. In addition, one of the most effective measure against prominent skin scarring is to avoid exposure of the scar to sun and to use effective sun screen (with SPF more than 30) over that area for a year.

Injury during Surgery

When having surgery there is the risk that parts of the body will be damaged in the process. For example, surgery to remove the thyroid may cause an accidental injury to the nerve to voice box, which is attached to the Thyroid.This sort of injury may be detected during the procedure and if possible fixed immediately. If the injury is severe enough, additional surgery may be required.

To learn specific risk with head and neck/ENT operations, you can follow the appropriate link on this website.

Difficulty Breathing After Surgery

Most patients can be removed from the breathing machine, or ventilator, at the end of surgery. Some patients can require the ventilator much longer.Patients most at risk for remaining on the ventilator are those with pulmonary diseases, smokers, patients who are very ill and patients who required ventilator support prior to surgery. Extensive operation on tongue, throat or voice box can also require temporary ventilator support as swelling after the operation can block your breathing. At times, you may need another operation to insert a breathing tube in your windpipe through a cut in the lower neck (tracheostomy). In most cases, this will be removed after a week or so.

If you have a high risk or requiring ventilator support or tracheostomy, this will be discussed before your operation.

Death Due to Surgery

All surgeries, whether small or big, carry a risk of death. Fortunately, head and neck/ENT operations carry an incredibly small risk of death due to the operation.


Northampton General Hospital
NHS Hospital
Northampton NN1 5BD
Tel - 01604 634700
BMI Three Shires Hospital
Private Hospital
Northampton NN1 5DR
Tel - 01604 620311


For private consultation please contact
Tel – 07504 818402