Liposuction is one of the many types of cosmetic surgery that is in existence these days and thanks to prices dropping, it has become something that just about anyone can have done. Since it is a relatively minor procedure, it tends to draw quite a few patients, particularly those who have already lost weight on their own, but have areas that are resistant to exercise and dieting. However, like any medical procedure, there are risks involved and it’s a good idea to know what you’re getting into before signing up.
What Liposuction Is
The actual process is fairly simple. It involves using a vacuum-like device to suction fat out of specific areas; often the stomach and thighs are good candidates for this. The point of the procedure isn’t to make you lose weight, but rather to shape the body by removing stubborn pockets of fat cells. Those areas that tend to cling to their fat even after a lengthy diet and exercise program are prime candidates for liposuction. Stomachs, hips, thighs, underarms, breasts, and butts are the most common areas that end up being treated.
This cosmetic surgery isn’t a miracle cure for fat, but it certainly helps define these areas that are normally cushioned by an excess layer of fat cells. It isn’t permanent, though, and the patient can still gain weight after the surgery.
Risks and Complications
For good reason, doctors performing liposuction don’t do it on patients who suffer from diabetes, heart problems, or blood clotting issues. They require their patients to be healthy in order to minimize the risk, of which there is a certain amount in any cosmetic surgery.
Despite being one of the safer cosmetic procedures, this type of surgery certainly isn’t free from complications.
Embolism. This happens when a blood vessel is broken by the suction device and a piece of the broken up fat is introduced into the blood stream. This tiny bit of fat can block blood vessels in the lungs or brain, causing serious problems and even death.
Infections. There are two types of infections that can occur in this type of procedure. The first is when the actual tissue inside the body becomes infected, while the other is an infection of the skin. The latter can cause the skin to die off in large areas if not treated.
Punctured Organs. Since liposuction is frequently performed in the abdominal area, the metal canula (suction pipe) can accidentally hit an internal organ. The intestines are nearest the popular suction site and will require additional surgery if torn.
Swelling. Once the fat is gone, swelling and pooling of the body’s own liquids can cause the area to remain puffy for months on end. This problem occasionally appears months AFTER the actual surgery.
Numbness. If a nerve is damaged during the process, there can be a loss of sensation to part of the body, usually the area being liposuctioned. This isn’t lethal, but it can definitely be unpleasant. In most cases, the sensation is temporary, but occasionally it doesn’t go away.
Complications with Anesthesia. The local anesthetic that is used to numb the injection site can cause toxicity in some people. Most of the time this involves minor symptoms, slurred speech, dizziness, etc., but on occasion, it can stop the heart.
While liposuction is considerably safer than other, more invasive, procedures, it does still carry the risk of complication and it’s important that patients understand this before they decide to go through with it. Despite fears, you are far more likely to die in a car accident than during the cosmetic surgery.