Seemingly Simple Surgeries That Could Go Horribly Wrong

Let's be clear right off the bat: where there are medical procedures, there are risks. It's as simple as that. Of course, some surgeries are so easy and so common that the chances of you having any negative side effects are next to nothing. So you have nothing to fear, right? But just because the complications are uncommon doesn't mean they don't exist, and boy, are they frightening. These are seemingly simple surgeries that can go wrong, and a few of these common procedures are actually surgeries that can kill you.

From paralysis to rectal prolapse, there are some surgery side effects out there that you probably just don't want to think about. Or maybe you do. After all, curiosity is a very powerful thing.

So, which of these are surgeries that just have nasty possible outcomes and which are medical procedures that can kill you? You'll have to read on to find out. If you're brave enough, of course.

  • Wisdom Tooth Removal

    Wisdom Tooth Removal
    Photo: tj.blackwell / flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.0

    Why You'd Get It: Your wisdom teeth are trying to destroy your mouth.

    What Can Go Wrong: Most people have four wisdom teeth, although some lucky folks have none. Your wisdom teeth are located at the very back of your mouth, just behind your molars. Evolutionarily, they're vestigial; we no longer need them, which makes all the problems they can cause even worse. When they come in, they can become crowded, infected, and cause further medical problems. Generally, removing wisdom teeth is no big deal if done at the right time.

    But let's assume you waited a long time to get your teeth removed, and they started to grow too large or fuse with your jaw. The roots could grow into your sinus cavity, or damage the nerves in your jaw. When this happens, the procedure becomes a serious one, where there's a risk of damaging your sense of taste or smell, and even a small risk of blood clot and death! For the regular, minor kind of wisdom tooth removal? Even then there's a chance that you could get nasty infections and feel severe pain around the site of the surgery. 

  • Tonsillectomy

    Photo: Internet Archive Book Images / flickr / No known copyright restrictions

    Why You'd Get It: Your tonsils have forgotten which side they're on and want you dead.

    What Can Go Wrong: You've probably heard of getting your tonsils removed, and you might have even had it done. The fact is, we don't need out tonsils to survive, and they can become swollen, painful, and infected. So a doctor goes in and simply removes them in a minor surgery. No big deal, right?

    Well, as it turns out, you can actually die during a tonsillectomy. The tonsils are next to some pretty major arteries in your neck, and if one is accidentally cut, you can actually bleed out. Other horrible complications include trouble breathing, infection, nausea, vomiting, and permanent changes to your voice. 

  • Circumcision

    Photo: GOC53 / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

    Why You'd Get It: Mostly religious reasons, or maybe cosmetic. 

    What Can Go Wrong: Are you sure you're ready to read this one? Okay, here we go. This generally unnecessary, but simple, surgery consists of removing the foreskin around the head of the penis. It usually happens when a child is very young, and mostly happens without complication. But if there is a complication?

    There can be infection or uncontrolled bleeding. The foreskin could be cut too short or too long, and the penis can be permanently damaged or disfigured. Complications from circumcision can even cause death! For a mostly cosmetic surgery, that seems pretty drastic. 

  • Appendectomy

    Photo: Internet Archive Book Images / flickr / No known copyright restrictions

    Why You'd Get It: Your appendix is inflamed, swollen, and threatening to burst. 

    What Can Go Wrong: Everyone has this little vestigial organ that hangs off the end of your intestines, called an appendix. Sometimes, the appendix can become inflamed and needs to be removed before it bursts and causes you to go septic. But the removal itself has a few serious risks.

    Though it's a routine procedure, there can be uncontrolled bleeding, infection, and long-term digestion issues. Your bowels can even become gangrenous, which will slowly poison your body from the inside out. Unfortunately, death is a rare but real possibility. 

  • Rhinoplasty

    Photo: Internet Archive Book Images / flickr / No known copyright restrictions

    Why You'd Get It: So you can breathe better, or so you can be the fairest in all the land. 

    What Can Go Wrong: So, maybe your nose is a little crooked and you want to correct that. Or maybe you have breathing issues and don't want to deal with that anymore. No big deal, it;'s an easy and quick procedure! But rhinoplasty, also more commonly known as a nose job, has some very rare and very serious risks.

    First of all, there could be excessive bleeding, both during and after the surgery. Or perhaps there could be serious tears to the inside of your nose that require additional surgery. Or the bones in your nose could collapse, or you could lose your sense of smell, or your nose could even develop necrosis and have to be removed! The list seems to go on and on. 

  • Laser Eye Surgery

    Why You'd Get It: Because your eyesight sucks and you're tired of seeing things in blur-o-vision.

    What Can Go Wrong: If your vision is starting to go bad and you are fed up with glasses and contacts, you can get laser eye surgery to correct your vision for the long term. Okay, that sounds great, but any surgery that involves pointing a laser at your freaking eyeball has to have some serious possible complications, right? You are so very and horrifyingly correct.

    Besides a little overcorrection or under-correction surgically, there are also potential burns, tears, and bleeding. In some cases, there can even be blindness! That's right, in trying to correct your vision, you might, in fact, lose it altogether. While these complications are very rare, they're no less frightening.