Is Liposuction Dangerous for Athletes?

I am worried about having laser liposuction after reading about bumps and possible larger weight gain after the procedure. I am a thin distance runner but I would like to lose excess weight on my butt and inner thighs. Is this procedure dangerous for athletes? Also, what are the side effects for thinner people in general?

Doctor Answers 22

Liposuction is not dangerous of Athletes

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Liposuction is not dangerous for Athletes, but laser liposcution generaly carries higher complication rate than tumescent liposuction, and in a relatively thin person such as you, laser lipo is of no added benefit.

Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 51 reviews

Athletes often good candidates for spot contouring with lipo

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Your question gets at the core reason for doing body contouring with lipo: even in very fit people, there can be pockets of fat that are too stubborn to go away. Liposuction removes these areas and so the body can't really put excess fat there. Weight gain after lipo is not related to the procedure, but occurs when poeple erroneously assume that they don't have to diet and exercise as much. It's a body shaping procedure, not for weight loss.  Don't be swayed by the marketing hype around laser lipo; the most important variable is the surgeon, not the technology. 

Richard Baxter, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 59 reviews

Athletes can be ideal for liposuction

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The ideal person for liposuction is someone who is relatively young and healthy who is at or near their ideal body weight with firm, elastic skin and isolated pockets of fat.  Athletes are usually closer to the ideal patient for liposuction than anyone.  There is no reason why an athlete would have any greater risk for liposuction than a non athlete.

James McMahan, MD
Columbus Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 40 reviews

Liposuction is not dangerous for atheletes

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Liposuction is not dangerous for atheletes. In gneeral, you should not have liposuction if you plan on considerable weight fluctuations as it may cause an alteration in the result.

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 86 reviews

Liposuction is fine for atheletes

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Liposuction ideally treats focal, localized areas of fat which are resistant to diet and exercise.  Therefore athletes should be the ideal candidates.   There is no greater risk for athletes vs normal people.  As well trained athletes should only have small areas which need treating,  use of a small, thin cannula would be prudent, as minimal amounts of fat would need to be removed and a thin cannula would be best used to "sculpt" the areas and avoid contour defects. Any on-line search for "Liposuction" will turn up a variety of different types being done, Laser, Laser assisted, Ultrasonic, Tumescent, etc, etc.  I know of no study which proves the superiority or benefit of any type over standard liposuction, in spite of heavy marketing by the companies suggesting otherwise.

Liposuction in athletes is no different than in non-athletes

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Whether one is thin and athletic or not, the liposuction procedure is the same including most of the risks and potential complications. The only difference is that in a thin person the procedure is better described as 'liposculpture' as the amount of fat to be removed is less. This makes the result more likely to be 'better' in that the canvas one is working with is thinner and better defined from the beginning. Because the fat volume removed is so much less than in larger patients, some of the risks such as fat emboli and deep vein thrombosis and the amount of recovery needed are reduced.

Laser Liposuction in Athletes: Results and Safety

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Laser liposuction is a new technology that utilizes a laser probe introduced through a small incision under the skin and then pulsed to heat water in the fat cells. The technology is truly in its primitive stages, yet it is marketed heavily and has catchy names. After the laser part of the liposuction, the area is treated with standard suction assisted liposuction which likely contributes heavily to the end results. Unfortunately, the technology is being utilized frequently by non-plastic surgeons who have limited to no training in body contouring which can lead to compromised results and safety. Liposuction, no matter what technology is considered safe if applied in the proper area, under the right conditions and in the right patients. Typically in thin patients, ie athletes, this would be safe if applied to focal areas of fat accumulation, however thin patients are very unforgiving in that if not performed carefully, liposuction could lead to contour irregularities such as depressions. If you do have focal fat deposits that you would like contoured, consider consulting with a board certified plastic surgeon and maybe consider utilizing ultrasound assisted liposuction. Laser liposuction is just not the right medium to deliver results. 

Andrew P. Trussler, MD
Austin Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 52 reviews

Athletic individuals are ideal liposuction candidates

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Athletic individuals are ideal liposuction candidates. People with lower overall body fat and small areas of localized fat accumulations usually get the best results. Laser liposuction, however, comes with additional side effects and no particular benefits over manual liposuction so I cannot recommend that approach. see link below.

William P. Coleman III, MD
Metairie Dermatologic Surgeon

Athletes and Liposuction

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Being a marathon runner, I can understand your concerns. Most thinner athletes are ideal candidates for liposuction. You should be careful to choose a surgeon who is experienced with both traditional lipoplasty and laser assisted lipoplasty. It is likely that laser assisted lipoplasty will not be needed, unless you have been very heavy in the past. Obviously, I can't give a definitive answer about your individual situation without a formal consultation.

James M. Kurley, MD
Champaign Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 39 reviews

Be wary of laser liposuction

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The risks of anesthetic complications from should be significantly reduced in a well trained athlete.  I would advise you to be wary of laser liposuction.  There are numerous studies that have shown that laser liposuction has a high complication rate that standard liposuction.  This study also found that the cosmetic results of laser liposuction were inferior to that of standard liposuction.  Laser liposuction is more of a marketing gimmick that a true advance in liposuction technique.

Warmest regards,

Gregory Pippin, MD

Gregory Pippin, MD
Metairie Facial Plastic Surgeon

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.