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Liposuction: What Are The Risks?

Thursday, April 19, 2012 - 10:12

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

Liposuction is generally safe. As with any surgery, however, the procedure does have the potential for complications.

Occasional risks of liposuction include:

  • Heavy bleeding (less of a problem with ultrasound-assisted liposuction)
  • A bad reaction to the anesthetic
  • Emergency hospital admission
  • Noticeable irregularities in body contour
  • Prolonged swelling
  • Brown spots on the skin (hyperpigmentation)

The following factors increase the risks of liposuction:

  • Removal of too much fat
  • Inadequate monitoring after removal of a large volume of fat (greater than 10 pounds)
  • Injection of overly large amounts of fluid and anesthetic
  • Performance of multiple surgical procedures in the same surgical session
  • Poor health, such as having diabetes, poor circulation, or severe lung or heart disease

Rare complications of liposuction are:

  • Infection
  • Lasting nerve damage
  • A hole (perforation) in the bowel during abdominal procedures
  • Blood clots, particularly in women taking birth control pills
  • Skin tissue death (necrosis), especially in smokers and people with diabetes
  • Skin burn (during ultrasound-assisted liposuction from the heat of the ultrasound device)
  • Fluid in the lungs (during tumescent liposuction)
  • Shock

Need To Know:

The mass media has widely reported the dangers of liposuction, including a number of deaths. Recent studies show that this is a very rare complication of liposuction.

Such reported problems were associated with removals of very large volumes of fat. Qualified and experienced surgeons will know how much fat can be safely removed from each individual.

Need To Know:

Tips for a safe liposuction

To minimize risks of liposuction:

  • Choose a surgeon with experience in performing liposuction. Liposuction is performed by plastic surgeons.
  • Make sure you are in sufficiently good health to have the surgery. Tell your surgeon about any past and present medical problems as well as about any prescribed or over-the-counter medicines you take.
  • Follow your surgeon's advice before and after surgery.
  • Avoid strenuous activity for several weeks after surgery.

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