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Is Liposuction Safe?

Patients undergo liposuction surgery to improve the shape and contours of their body and respectively their overall appearance. They usually want to get rid of excess body fat from problem areas such as the thighs, hips, buttocks, abdomen, arms, neck or back.

Although it is the most common cosmetic surgery in the world, liposuction still scares many people. From time to time we see all the news cases of patients who die after undergoing this surgical procedure. So why does this happen? How safe is liposuction surgery? To find the answers, we first need to understand what is liposuction and when this procedure can be dangerous.

What is liposuction and is this operation safe?

Liposuction is a surgical procedure that eliminates excess fat from areas of the body that are hardly affected by a healthy diet and exercise. However, it is not a weight-loss treatment. You may also know the operation as lipo, lipoplasty or body contouring.

Liposuction is a safe cosmetic procedure as long as it is done by a well experienced, board-certified plastic surgeon who uses appropriate surgical technique and who is able to determine what amount of fat can be safely removed from a certain area.

When this surgical procedure can be dangerous?

  • When it is not performed by a well trained and qualified plastic surgeon.
  • When the clinic is not equipped with the necessary medical devices or has no safety policies in place.
  • If you do not follow strictly your post-op instructions given by the plastic surgeon.
  • When a high amount of fat is removed during one sitting.
  • If you are not a suitable candidate for this procedure - you have a higher BMI, you are a chronic smoker, you take blood thinners medication or in case you have chronic health problems such as diabetes, deep vein thrombosis, coronary artery disease, restricted blood flow or other medical conditions.

What are the possible complications, risks and side effects of liposuction?

It is considered to be a simple and easy procedure. However, as with any surgery, it carries some risks and side effects. Possibility and potential complications from liposuction treatment include:

  • Skin infections, bleeding, hematoma or allergic reaction to anaesthesia;
  • Change in skin sensation;
  • Blood cloth formation, Pulmonary embolism, fat embolism, DVT (deep vein thrombosis), cardiopulmonary or lung problems;
  • Changes in the fluid levels that may lead to kidney or heart problems;
  • Damage to deep intraabdominal organs;
  • Skin surface irregularities, skin necrosis, skin pigmentation, bumps and scars (we've written an entire post on the popular scar removal treatments).

In order to minimize risks and complications of liposuction, there are several things that must be considered. Some of these are the time of your consultation such as the planned amount of fat to remove and many factors at the time of operation such as the safe planes for operation. It is also very important that the patient follows the post-operative protocol. If you have any questions regarding the risks of liposuction, make sure to get in touch with us and we'll try to answer your specific concerns.

What is the safest type of liposuction technique?

liposuction surgery operating theatre

Tumescent liposuction is a popular form of liposuction that is more effective, safe and less painful than traditional liposuction techniques and has a faster recovery time. This surgery is performed on an outpatient basis and does not require general anaesthesia. Most plastic surgeons prefer doing this fat removal technique and there three main reasons for that. Firstly, doing tumescent lipo under local anaesthesia makes the procedure safer and reduces the risk of complications.

You are awake during the surgery so your muscles are tight and when the surgeon is performing the operation it is not possible to damage any deeper structures. Your blood pressure and heart rate will be monitored through the operation. The second reason why cosmetic surgeons prefer this method is that during the surgery they are able to make you stand, compare both sides, check that both sides are symmetrical and there are no irregularities. And thirdly, if you do it on the local anaesthesia your recovery is much simpler and faster. The same procedure done under general anaesthesia requires much more downtime from work and a longer and more painful recovery period.

Let's look at how safe are the other types and techniques

Is Vaser liposuction safe?

When performed by a professional doctor Vaser liposuction is safe and the risk of side effects and complications is minimal -they can happen, as with any operation,  but they are very low. Some of the side effects are infection and bleeding, skin pigmentation or skin irregularities. Typically the bleeding is controlled with the tumescent solution where the surgeon injects it into the treated area. This contains ingredients that constrict the smaller blood vessels so that you have very minimal blood loss during the operation. Infection is a very rare side effect of Vaser liposuction - less than 1%.

Is Laser liposuction safe?

As with Vaser lipo, laser liposuction is also considered a safe procedure with minimal possible side effects. Since it is non-invasive there is no downtime. Of course, the safety of the laser treatment depends a lot on the surgeon. You need to make sure you remove less than 3 litres of fat otherwise you can experience different side effects.

How safe is neck/ chin liposuction?

Neck and chin liposuction can lead to some complications such as bleeding in the area which can cause prolonged bruising or lumps, it can also lead to dumpling of the skin in certain areas. The bigger risk of concern is an injury to the marginal mandibular nerve which runs underneath the jaw into the chin to the lip area. As you are removing the fat you can stretch the nerve leading to paralysis which is usually temporary. In rare cases, this can be permanent causing the inability to move the lower lip. Another risk associated with this surgery is trauma to the nerve under the ear called the great auricular nerve. It may lead to numbness of the ear. When performed by a knowledgable specialist the risks of these complications are minimal.

How safe is arm liposuction?

woman squeezing arm fat

The possible side effects of the arm lipo are like any surgical procedures - bruising, swelling and bleeding. The procedure is usually not related to any severe complications. If arm liposuction is done by an experienced surgeon the chances of developing negative side effects are minimal.

What do you need to know before getting liposuction procedures?

To ensure your safety and to get the best outcomes you may want to consider the things listed below.

Make sure you are a good candidate for liposuction treatments

Good candidates for liposuction procedures are people who are in good general health, have stable body weight, are close to their ideal weight and don't have poor skin elasticity or too much excess skin. This operation can be dangerous or even life-threatening for patients with certain health issues.

You need to understand, that these plastic surgeries are not for everyone. Consult with a plastic surgeon about your current health to see if you are properly eligible for the procedure. It is an essential part of your preparation for lipo.

Find a board-certified plastic surgeon who has enough experience in the filed

Your surgeon must tailor the techniques based on your own body's specific needs. For preoperative preparations, the surgeon will speak with you on what to expect from your customized body contouring procedure. During the meeting, he/she will instruct you on what you have to do in order to prepare for your treatment.

Follow the after surgery instructions

liposuction surgeons in operating room

In order to have a smooth recovery and good results, you will need to follow the surgeon's recommendations. You will be asked to wear a compression garment for the first few weeks. This will control the swelling. You will be able to go back to work after 3 to 10 days depending on the surgeon instructions. After the procedure, you may have some swelling, pain and bruising that may persist for a couple of weeks. In order for liposuction to be worth it for you and to get the best results of the treatment, you should maintain a healthy lifestyle, to have a proper diet and exercise regularly.

It is not a weight-loss cosmetic procedure and does not remove loose skin

Many people are of the wrong opinion that this surgery will help them lose weight. The procedure removes excess fat and can make you cosmetically more appealing, but it will not reduce your weight or tight your loose skin.

Takeaway

In modern days, liposuction procedures are safe. Problems that can occur potentially arise are common to any surgical operation - infection, bleeding, swelling, etc. The tumescent technique reduces the risk of bleeding and other side effects and complications, it is effective and causes less pain compared to the traditional liposuction method. All fat removal procedures can be dangerous if they are performed in an unsafe facility or by an unqualified person. To ensure your safety during and after the surgery you must find a good clinic and qualified plastic surgeon.