Will Liposuction Kill You?

Julie Clark Robinson on 17 May 2011 at 9:00am

Thirty-two year old realtor Krista Stryland went in for some post-baby lipo at the Toronto Cosmetic Clinic on September 20, 2007, and never got to enjoy her new waistline.  She died a few hours later after being found unresponsive in the recovery room; at issue is the fact that 911 wasn’t called for 40 minutes.  The coroner said that the delay in treatment likely made the difference between life and death for the young mother.

This week’s decision by the Ontario College of Physcians and Surgeons found the surgeon, Behnaz Yazdanfar, incompetent and guilty of medical misconduct.  The committee conducted a complete hearing and found that Yazdanfar removed 6.6 litres of fat in spite of Ontario’s guidelines that restrict the maximum of five. 

The penalty hearings are next in the case.  What can the doc expect?  His license could be suspended or revoked, or he could be slapped with a fine.

Krista Stryland died from liposuction

So, was Ms. Stryland the unluckiest person in the world or is there more to ponder here?  Consider this:  917 plastic surgeons reported 95 deaths in more than 496,000 liposuction cases. (Blood clots, or pulmonary embolisms, are the most common cause of death following liposuction.)

Let’s do a little math:

  • That’s roughly 19 deaths per 100,000.
  • Death rates for non-essential surgeries are 1 in 100,000.
  • Death rates for car accidents are 16 per 100,000.
  • Of those who died, up to 75% of them had their surgeries performed in a clinic rather than a hospital.  Most of these patients seemed stable and were sent home before complications arose.

RealSelf member NYgemini shared her alarming close call several weeks post lipo. After having fat in both legs removed, one was incredibly painful and swollen several weeks later.  She called her doctor’s office and was told it was a normal part of recovery.  It wasn’t until the next week when she landed in the hospital with a massive blood clot that she learned if she had gotten on a plane (as she was scheduled to do the following day!) she would’ve died. 

Even with the risks and horror stories, there are many healthy and satisfied liposuction customers on RealSelf.  

Dr. Robert T. Buchanan, a Highlands Plastic Surgeon, offers his take on the staggering statistics.  “Unfortunately, we are now seeing many untrained physicians doing Liposuction with little realization of the potential problems that can occur.  My advice is to pick a surgeon who has significant experience and operates only in a certified facility.”  

I know the first place I'd look if I were considering lipsosuction.  You?

Do stories like this scare you away from cosmetic enhancements, or just encourage you to do more homework?

Liposuction before and after

Photo credit: Wikimedia, Toronto Star files


Comments (7)

Yes, I like this post. It gives us a lot of importance of liposuction
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Me too. I wish I'd gone to local surgeons instead. At least more down to earth and less likely to 'experiment'.
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Agreed. Ethics are paramount and patients don't place enough emphasis on character. We are all too ready to make allowances for personality, when it's this that can often dictate an outcome. Its probably the first thing I would consider when picking a surgeon now. Particularly the 'big names' to whom people flock due to these boards. This case proves that everyone's out for themselves. You're never more vulnerable than when you're knocked out; the worst thing ever if you get them on a bad day, they can do whatever they want and you have no power to stop them. I know bad outcomes are always possible but It's becoming exceptionally difficult for patients to assess their surgeon, as it is for surgeons to assess us.
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It's a jungle out there in plastic surgery land and I got badly mauled by a couple who call themselves " the best."
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Every now and then even a good real plastic surgeon can be a sociopath and just demolish somebody on a whim and know that nothing will happen. That must be such feeling of omnipotence for them.
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I don't know whether you've ever read the vanity fair article on "The Runaway Nose Doctor", but that's an extreme case in point.
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This just further points out that liposuction is real surgery and not just a "procedure." Patients who want to minimize that and go to non-plastic surgeons in non-accredited facilities and be sold on all the hype on the radio are putting themselves right into harm's way. With so many good real plastic surgeons out there, there is no need to take unnecessary extra risk.
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