Is Liposuction Dangerous?
This transformative surgery seeks to remove unwanted fat from areas of the body and can be used to reshape specific areas. While it may sound like a dream come true, there are some serious considerations to think about before undergoing liposuction, including the long-term effects of liposuction, as is the case with any surgery.
Keep reading to learn more about the dangers of liposuction and how to ensure you get the best outcome.
Understanding the Procedure: How Liposuction is Performed
- The procedure involves the surgeon making markings and taking photos of the treated areas before liposuction is performed.
- Then, anaesthesia (local or general) is administered before surgery.
- A cannula is inserted through an incision in the treated area, which breaks up fat deposits before suctioning them out of the patient’s body.
- After the procedure, the doctor uses sutures to close the incisions, and a dressing is applied for healing purposes.
Potential Risks and Complications: What Can Go Wrong During and After Liposuction
Is liposuction dangerous? Liposuction is generally a safe procedure; however, risks and complications can occur if the procedure is not performed properly. Skin elasticity is a critical factor in any liposuction procedure. If the area being treated has poor elasticity, it can lead to swelling and permanent deformities.
Liposuction risks and complications may include:
- Fat Embolism – Small pieces of fat can break off and travel through the bloodstream to major organs, leading to serious health complications. This requires immediate medical attention.
- Internal Puncture – Though occurring exceptionally rarely, it’s possible for a cannula to penetrate an internal organ if deemed too close during the fat removal process. In this case, emergency medical attention is necessary.
- Seroma – A seroma is a build-up of fluid that can accumulate due to damage caused by the cannula.
- Infection – This is always a potential danger following any surgical procedure. Moving too soon or too much after the procedure can cause infection.
- Hypothermia – The body can experience different temperatures during surgery.
- Allergic Reactions – Allergic reactions to anaesthesia may occur, leading to difficulty breathing or swelling.
- Muscle Aches – After liposuction, patients may experience uncomfortable muscle aches due to anaesthesia.
- Nausea – The anaesthesia used can cause nausea or vomiting.
- Sore throat – Anaesthesia can sometimes lead to a sore throat from being intubated during the operation.
- Bruising – Bruising is normal after liposuction but will usually fade over time.
- Scarring – Scarring is also expected and may be more noticeable in certain areas. Read our article if liposuction leaves any scars.
- Loose Skin – The skin can loosen after the procedure and not fit as tightly as before. Additional surgery may be necessary to correct this.
- Irregular Skin Contours – This can be caused by too much or too little fat being removed from a particular area, leading to an uneven appearance.
Recovery and Aftercare: What to Expect and How to Minimize Risks
After the procedure, patients can expect some swelling, bruising, and pain in the treated areas. This is normal and should subside over time with proper care. To minimize risks following the procedure, it’s essential to follow all the aftercare instructions given by your doctor. This includes:
- Getting plenty of rest and avoiding strenuous activity for the first few weeks.
- Wearing a tight compression garment to reduce swelling and help the skin to adhere.
- Keeping the area clean and following any antibiotics protocol prescribed.
You can expect some irregularities in the shape and contours of your skin and some numbness in the treated area. This is normal and should subside with time.
Realistic Expectations: Understanding the Limitations of Liposuction
Liposuction can improve body contours and reduce fat in certain areas of the body, but it’s essential to understand that there are limits to what it can do. Having a realistic expectation of what liposuction can and cannot do can help ensure that you are ready for the procedure. Here are a few of liposuction’s limitations:
- It does not address skin laxity, cellulite, stretch marks, or other skin conditions.
- It is not a weight loss solution.
- Patients can be of any age as long as they are in good health.
- It is not an easy way out of an unhealthy lifestyle.
- It is suitable for both men and women.
Given its potential health risks, liposuction should not be performed on individuals who:
- Suffer from severe, chronic medical conditions.
- Have compromised immune systems.
- Exceed recommended body weight thresholds.
- Have sagging skin and/or cellulite deposits on the targeted area(s).
- Have a history of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), or seizures.
- Take medications that could increase their risk for bleeding problems (e.g., blood thinners).
Pre-Operative Evaluation: How to Prepare for the Procedure
Patients need to take some preventive measures to reduce the risk of complications before liposuction. Your plastic surgeon will conduct a comprehensive evaluation to determine if you are a good candidate for the procedure.
He will ask you to provide your medical history, including any allergies or previous surgeries, and discuss your desired outcome. You should also disclose any medications you’re currently taking and may recommend that you stop taking any over-the-counter medications that are blood thinners, such as aspirin, at least a few weeks before the procedure. Smoking and drinking should be discontinued at least two weeks before the surgery, as both can affect healing and lead to complications.
But before making a final decision, it is important that you speak with your doctor and openly discuss whether you are a good candidate for liposuction.
Good candidates for liposuction are those who:
- Have minimal extra skin.
- Have good skin elasticity.
- Struggle to shed fat in specific areas despite diet and exercise.
- Maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle habits (e.g., do not smoke).
- Demonstrate overall wellness.
Patient Safety: How the Procedure is Regulated and Monitored
- Preoperative Evaluation and Planning – To guarantee that expectations are both reasonable and attainable, plastic surgeons must converse openly and honestly with their patients.
- Intraoperative Monitoring and Safety – The anesthetist is vital in supervising and overseeing the patient throughout surgery for safe results.
- Wetting Solutions and Fluid Status – Advanced wetting techniques enable larger-volume liposuction procedures with optimal safety and outcomes.
- Body Contouring and Prevention of Complications – By performing swift fat grafting and transferring a portion of the patient’s own fat cells, the doctor can effectively address any surface irregularities that may occur during treatment.
- Postoperative Care and Outcomes Measurement – To avoid potential problems, patients need to follow the doctor’s postoperative care instructions and attend all their follow-up visits.
This is the conclusion of a special topic paper published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery-Global Open®, the official open-access medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).
By adhering to these five principles, plastic surgeons can guarantee their patients a safe, effective liposuction procedure with minimal risk of complications.
Long-Term Results: The Impact of Liposuction on the Body and Health
Fat may recur after liposuction. Weight gain, pregnancy, and even aging can cause a redistribution of fat cells in the treated and untreated body areas.
Liposuction can be a great way to remove stubborn pockets of fat that do not respond well to exercise or diet. But it is important to note that it does not prevent the body from building up fat again in the future. It simply removes fat cells from the treated area, which can help achieve a more balanced body shape.
Risks vs. Benefits: Weighing the Pros and Cons of Liposuction
When deciding whether liposuction is right for you, it’s always important to weigh the pros and cons. On the one hand, there are real risks that come with any major surgery. And if the question “is liposuction painful?” lingers in your mind, it’s important to consider that it is a procedure that does involve some degree of discomfort.
However, when performed properly by an experienced surgeon, most patients report a successful result. Open communication with your doctor and a thorough understanding of the procedure are key to ensuring that you make the right decision.
Reduce the Risk of Complications by Choosing a Qualified Plastic Surgeon
Complications from liposuction are rare, but choosing a qualified plastic surgeon is one of the most important steps in avoiding them. Here are some tips for finding a qualified surgeon:
- Ask to see the surgeon’s credentials — Make sure they are board certified.
- Experience and training — Ensure they have experience performing liposuction and are up to date on the latest techniques.
- Photos of past work — Ask to see “before and after” photos of other patients.
- Research — Read reviews from past patients and ask for recommendations.
- Communication — Make sure your surgeon thoroughly answers your questions in a skillful and caring manner.
- Facilities — Ensure the facility is clean, properly staffed, and up-to-date with the latest technology.
Dr. Demetris Stavrou is one of the top liposuction surgeons in Cyprus, Greece, and Malta, and has been performing plastic surgery safely and successfully for many years. He is experienced in the latest techniques, has a wealth of before-and-after photos to show, and has a caring team of professionals dedicated to delivering the best experience for all patients. Book a consultation with Dr. Stavrou to discuss your options in regard to liposuction.