Are There Risks to Liposuction?

Living in our current society means having the perfectly toned and slim body so much so that liposuction (or lipoplasty) is becoming a common way to achieve certain body goals many Americans have. Besides coming with a hefty price, it also involves certain risks, as any normal surgical operation does. If you’re considering getting liposuction, what are the things you must know before going under such procedure?

What is Liposuction?

Liposuction (or lipoplasty, liposculpture suction, lipectomy or even lipo) is a cosmetic surgery that removes fat from your body – the most common areas people get liposuction in the abdomen, arms, thighs, buttocks, back, or even neck, chin and calves. You can opt for one of these areas or a mix of them for an overall better look. A cannula is inserted under the skin and then a vacuum sucks the fat from that area.

About the Procedure

This surgery is very similar to other cosmetic surgeries: it is most commonly carried out under general anesthesia which lasts for about 3 hours. In certain specific cases, local anesthesia can be used, but this will only happen if you have a very small area you want to remove fat from. 

Don’t think that this procedure can be done to you if you’re in bad shape or have too many pounds to lose. Surgeons only accept people who are fit and live a somewhat healthy lifestyle. The best candidates for this operation are people who have lost a lot of weight and want that last touch to make them look trimmer. 

Besides being a type of cosmetic surgery, certain patients also use this procedure to help them treat certain health problems they have. These include gynecomastia (fat that accumulates in a man’s breasts), lymphedema (a chronic condition associated with excess fluid), lipomas (benign fatty tumors) or even lipodystrophy syndrome (badly distributed fat in one’s body). As you can see, liposuction is not only used for beauty reasons but also to help with certain conditions – that is maybe one of the reasons why this is the top cosmetic surgery used in America.

Types of Procedure

If you didn’t know this, there are several different types of liposuction and the right one for you depends on where you’d like to get it done, your objectives or if you’ve had liposuction done before or not. As always, you need to be transparent with your surgeon, so that he can help you and guide in the right direction, hopefully making the whole process smooth and with the least recovery time. The following are the types of liposuction:

  • Ultrasound-assisted liposuction – this type uses ultrasonic energy to break down fat, so that when it’s being vacuumed it’s easier to remove. This type of liposuction is said to lessen the chances of skin injuries. 
  • Power-assisted liposuction – as the name indicates, this procedure involves a cannula that moves back and forth, allowing the surgeon to pull out fat that is tough and if it’s a large amount. 
  • Laser-assisted liposuction – this technique is quite similar to Ultrasound-assisted liposuction, as it uses a laser to break down fat and later, a cannula is used for the removal of fat. 
  • Tumescent liposuction – the most commonly used, as it involves injecting a sterile solution into the area to make it stiff and swell. Then, a cannula is inserted, connected to a vacuum which will suck the fat out. 

Whichever procedure you go for, it’ll be the right for the type of treatment you’re looking for. Ask your doctor about any of these if you have further questions or are interested in a specific one.

Let’s discuss the risks

There are plenty of risks associated with liposuction, but this is true to any major surgery. Remember to go through these with your doctor and family and make sure you’re comfortable with possible unpleasant side-effects and/or complications after your operation.

  • The first one is anesthesia risks, there is always a small risk of death with anesthesia. 
  • Swelling or inflammation, which may take a few months to settle.
  • Severe bruising, this one shouldn’t come as a shock; you’ll have a cannula inside you being moved around, so there will be probably be bruising and it’ll last for several weeks. If it’s severe of not, it depends on your skin and recovery process.
  • There is always a risk of infection, which is rare with liposuctions, but it still exists. This infection would be on the skin and it could lead up to another surgery to be treated.
  • Thrombophlebitis, which happens when a blood clot forms in a vein and causes inflammation and can lead to other complications.
  • Thermal burns or heat injury, which can be caused by the cannula movement against the skin and/or nerves, or if you’re going for the ultrasound-assisted liposuction, by the ultrasound.

These are just a few risks, but there are more complications that will vary from patient to patient. Do your health tests, discuss with your doctor thoroughly, and in the end, make the right decision for yourself and your goals. If you’re aware of all the pros and cons, the chances are you will be happy with the results.