Liposuction is a generally safe procedure, but anyone considering the surgery should fully understand the following:
1. What factors increase the risks of complications during liposuction?
The risk of liposuction complications increases when patients have too many surgery procedures on the same day that liposuction is performed. If a patient wants extensive liposuction performed, it is safer to divide the surgery into multiple surgeries over the course of several weeks. Allowing 3-4 weeks between surgeries will give the body time to recover before it undergoes another round of surgery.
Liposuction should not be combined with multiple unrelated surgeries performed on the same day. In particular, liposuction should never be done the same day as gynecological surgery.
See liposuction complications for more detailed information about potential complications.
2. Does the type of anesthesia affect the safety of liposuction?
Yes. No deaths have been reported as a result of tumescent liposuction, which uses local anesthesia. Virtually all deaths associated with liposuction occurred when general anesthesia or intravenous (IV) sedation was used. A recent article in the medical journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery reported 95 deaths associated with liposuction from 1994 to mid-1998, all of which occurred in the care of surgeons who typically use general or systemic anesthesia. In the same period of time there were no reported deaths associated with tumescent liposuction performed totally by local anesthesia. (Reference: Grazer FM, de Jong RH. Fatal outcomes from liposuction: census survey of cosmetic surgeons. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery 105:436-446, 2000).
3. What is the risk of infection associated with tumescent liposuction?
Infections following tumescent liposuction are extremely rare. Lidocaine, the local anesthetic used for tumescent liposuction, has been shown to kill bacteria. There are no known cases of serious infections following tumescent liposuction done totally by local anesthesia.
4. Does blood loss occur with liposuction?
No significant blood loss is associated with tumescent liposuction because of the vasoconstriction produced by the epinephrine contained in the tumescent local anesthetic solution. Approximately 1% of the material removed by liposuction is blood when tumescent liposuction is performed using a local anesthetic.
5. Is a blood transfusion a common requirement after liposuction?
Blood transfusions are rarely needed with liposuction. Excessive blood loss is unlikely but can occur if the patient has taken aspirin or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) within a few days preceding surgery, or if the surgery involves an excessive amount of liposuction when more than 5 liters of tissue are removed.
6. What qualifications should I look for in a surgeon?
Cost should never be your basis for choosing a surgeon. You need to view experience, credentials and all qualifications of a surgeon. Just because a physician can perform liposuction does that mean that this person specializes in it. Ask questions, ask for recommendations, and view before and after photos to get a true sense of the doctor’s abilities.
7. What safety qualifications should I look for in a surgical facility?
You liposuction surgical facility needs to be well-equipped and clean with sterile equipment. It is important that you are comfortable where your surgery will be performed. See a full list of what to look for in the safety of a surgical facility.