Liposuction Complications

What are the major complications that can result from liposuction?

Major liposuction complications are rare when proper precautions are taken. Some serious risks associated with liposuction are:

  • Pulmonary Thromboembolism (blood clot in the lung)

  • This is a risk of general anesthesia, too much surgery trauma and obesity.
  • Infection

  • Rarely, infections can result because of inadequate sterilization of surgical instruments, the application of Reston foam to minimize bruising and the use of ultrasonic assisted liposuction.
  • Intra-abdominal Perforation with Visceral Injury

  • An injury to an organ within the abdominal cavity is possible but can be repaired without long-term damage, as long as it is diagnosed quickly. Trauma to the intestine can be diagnosed early when local anesthesia is used during liposuction. If the liposuction is done under general anesthesia, the patient and the doctor may not be aware of the injury until an infection has spread.
  • Seroma or Hematoma

  • A hematoma is bleeding into a closed space under the skin. A seroma is a leakage of serum into a closed space under the skin. Both can occur after liposuction.
  • Nerve Damage

  • Permanent nerve damage is very rare with tumescent liposuction. It is more common with ultrasonic assisted liposuction. However, nerve damage is a risk of any surgery.
  • Swelling or Edema

  • Swelling is a normal part of the recovery process and usually resolves in 4-12 weeks.
  • Skin Necrosis

  • Skin necrosis is the death of skin cells within a circumscribed area. It can result from burns or freezing, infection, or injury to the blood vessels that supply oxygen to the skin. Ultrasonic liposuction may also cause skin necrosis as a result of ultrasonic energy burning the skin or blood vessels that supply the skin.
  • Pulmonary Edema

  • Pulmonary edema, or excessive fluid in the lungs, can result from excessive doses of intravenous fluids during and after liposuction.  Severe cases can cause death. Intravenous fluids are not necessary during tumescent liposuction because the amount of dilute anesthetic fluid injected into the body is sufficient to replace any lost fluids.
  • Adverse Drug Reactions

  • Adverse drug reactions can occur with both local anesthesia and general anesthesia and may arise during or after liposuction.
  • Death

  • No deaths have been reported with tumescent liposuction in the U.S. though there have been a small number of deaths associated with liposuction performed under general anesthesia.