Liposuction is a medical procedure and as with all medical procedures it comes with risks and possible complications. It is vital that a person going in for liposuction is fully aware of all the possible outcomes and risks. The doctor must comprehensively brief the patient on all the steps involved in the procedure, possible complications that could arise and manage their expectations from the outset. Dr. Gupta is of the firm belief that the health and safety of the patient is paramount. He has therefore dedicated this page to providing as much information as possible about the risks, complications and side effects of undergoing liposuction surgery.

1. Excessive liposuction

It is imperative for a doctor to limit the number of liposuction surgeries on a single person in a day.The probability of complications arising are increased if

a) an excessive volume of fat is removed in a single day,

b) too many areas on the body are getting treated on the same day and

c) combining liposuction with other surgical procedure thereby increasing the risks associated with being under general anaesthesia for prolonged periods.

2. Non-life threatening complications

It is not uncommon for patients to suffer from minor complications that are non-life threatening if dealt with in a timely manner. These might include allergic reactions, postoperative fainting or syncope after urinating, visible or unsightly scars, skin discolouration, bruising and nerve numbness.

3. Severe complications

As with any surgery, there is always the risk of something going drastically wrong, but these are rare situations. Possible complications that could be serious might include, blood clots in the leg or lungs, adverse reactions to anaesthesia, excessive blood loss or excessive IV fluids, hypothermia, bacterial infections, aspiration pneumonia, cardiac arrest and potentially fatal cardiac arrhythmias, permanent nerve damage, seizures and even brain damage if there is any oxygen deprivation. These are worst case scenarios and almost never happen with Tumescent liposuction but it’s important for patients to be fully aware of anything that could possibly go wrong.

4. Preoperative use of drugs that could increase bleeding

There are some drugs which, if taken prior to the operation, can cause problems with normal clotting. These include aspirin, ibuprofen(Nurofen) and warfarin (Coumadin). Some of them can cause haematoma or excessive bleeding that could require the patient to be hospitalised. Vitamin E, red wine and some herbal supplements also sometimes cause excessive bleeding. Please be extremely candid with your doctor about all the medication you are taking prior to having the procedure.

5. Local Anaesthesia-related risks

The Tumescent technique is one of the safest methods of liposuction. Lidocaine is considered to be the most appropriate local anaesthetic for this technique, however, surgeons must be aware of the maximum dosage permitted – 50mg/kg. Any deaths that have occurred as a result of liposuction have been due to the use of general anaesthesia, IV sedation or lidocaine doses of more than 75 mg/kg.

6. General Anaesthesia-related risks

General anaesthesia MUST be administered by a qualified anaesthesiologist. Complications
related to general anaesthesia can arise if, for example, another surgery is performed in addition to liposuction on the same day. Problems associated with general anaesthesia include incorrect anaesthesia dosage, unknown sensitivity to the anaesthesia, vomiting and unknown airway blockage or disconnection. Sometimes, if there are complications associated with general anaesthesia, it can cause breathing difficulties leading to a possible life-threatening situation.

7. Risks with Ultrasonic Liposuction (UAL)

As UAL uses metal probes or metal paddles which generate a lot of heat inside the skin, there is a high risk of skin burning and severe scarring. As a result, this method of liposuction is rarely used.

Choosing the right patients

Complications can be minimised if doctors select the right candidates for the procedure and ensure that their patients are up to speed with the surgery and the risks associated with it. From a surgeon’s perspective, they should discourage patients who want the procedure for the wrong reasons such as weight loss and obesity control; who have unrealistic expectations of the outcome and those who have a medical history that might cause the liposuction procedure to put their health at risk.

From the patient’s perspective, complications can be reduced by not being tempted into removing too much fat in one day or getting the procedure done on too many areas of the body in one day. Doctor’s must discourage their patients from this and possibly suggest to their patients, if they are having large areas treated, to split them up into 2-3 procedures over a period of time.