Liposuction Dangers .. and How to Avoid? (photo)

I'm a 41 year old male and have given up hope that I will ever be able to get rid of my love handles with diet and exercise, I go to the gym 4 days a week and eat healthy. I am by NO MEANS overweight as I am 5'8 and 164 lbs. However, I have this stubborn love handle and "muffin top" problem that I need to have addressed. I am terrified of having lipo because everytime you hear of someone dying of PS it is usually of a lipo procedure! PS: there is no way I am doing lipo under just local - no way!

Doctor Answers 12


{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Those deaths you refer to are most frequently related to toxicity from lidocaine and procedures performed in non-certified operating rooms. Others have been mostly do to misadventures during surgery and over aggressive liposuction but those have been much fewer.

You seem to be an ideal candidate for the surgery in that your expectations are reasonable, you are not overweight, the areas of concern are localized and the skin condition looks good. The best advice you could be given is help in picking a surgeon.

Make sure the procedure is done in a certified operating room. Make sure your surgeon assesses preoperatively where the fat will be removed from and how much is to be removed. Know where the incisions for liposuction cannula access will be. Make sure your surgeon will be available and capable of helping you before and after surgery should any problem arise.

I hope you realize that this format of posting questions and receiving answers lacks the face to face direct communication required for you to make an informed decision regarding your surgery.

My response to your question/post does not represent formal medical advice or constitute a doctor patient relationship. You need to consult with i.e. personally see a board certified plastic surgeon in order to receive a formal evaluation and develop a doctor patient relationship.

Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon

In the right hands, Liposuction is VERY safe

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Hi there-

By an extreme margin, the greatest variable in the determination of the safety of any liposuction procedure is who you allow to do it on you.

If you are naive or dumb enough to allow an eye doctor or ER doctor to do this surgical procedure on you, your risks will undoubtedly be much higher than they need be. And believe it or not, many of the advertisements you and I are both subjected to in our respective communities for things like "no down-time" lipo or "painless" lipo are for doctors such as these-  You should know that Board Certified Plastic Surgeons must adhere to a strict Code of Ethics that prohibits us (appropriately) from such irresponsible advertising.

On the other hand, in the hands of a surgeon certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery, liposuction is among the safest procedures associated with a very high level of patient satisfaction.

You should also know that there is an excellent alternative for you- Based on the photo you have posted, you appear to be a great candidate for Coolsculpting.

Coolsculpting is based on the science of cryolipolysis- whereby fat cells are killed (without injury to surrounding nerves, blood vessels, skin, or tissues) without the need for anesthesia, incisions, pain medication, or garments. It's not perfect- you need to be patient to see the outcome, and you may need more than one treatment to achieve your goals, but for patients like yourself it is often a preferable alternative to liposuction.

Find your local provider of Coolsculpting and visit for a consultation. I would suggest finding one who is also a surgeon and could therefore offer you liposuction if they believe it would be a better option for you after an examination, or if you simply prefer it.

Checkout these photos of patients similar to yourself:

Liposuction Risks ?

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Fear not, the liposuction procedure you seek is safe, and routinely results in success and accomplishment of desired goals without complications, PROVIDED you seek the expertise and safety inherent in the operations of surgeons certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.  Seek a member surgeon of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and/or the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, and you are unlikely to go wrong.  Get a couple of opinions from different surgeons.... Consultations are often complimentary, and you will become more educated and better understand what to expect.

Steve Laverson, MD
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 50 reviews

Liposuction Risks

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}
All liposuction surgeries do have some inherent risks, but the frequency of any life-threatening complications occurring when the procedure is performed by a board-certified plastic surgeon in an accredited surgery center under general anesthesia with anesthesiologist supervision is low. 

Liposuction risks

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}
The biggest risk in liposuction is having the procedure performed in an unaccredited facility by a non-plastic surgeon. See a board certified plastic surgeon in consultation who can evaluate the laxity of your abdominal skin and determine whether you are a viable candidate for the procedure. Liposuction of the abdomen is usually performed under intravenous sedation anesthesia in an accredited surgery facility.

Liposuction risk

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Thanks for the question, and yes, you should never approach any surgical procedure without those concerns. That said, I think if you get an experienced surgeon, board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, you will get a nice result and have it done safely. I'm with you regarding anesthesia. We do all our liposuction, other than the most minor cases, under general anesthesia. So make sure your anesthesiologist is a physician who is also board certified in his or her specialty. Almost all of those liposuction catastrophies in the news are by individuals (some are not even doctors) who are not well trained in plastic surgery and there is no anesthesiiologist in attendance.

Ronald V. DeMars, MD
Portland Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

Liposuction Candidate?

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Thank you for the question and picture.

Based on your picture I think  you may be an  excellent candidate  for liposuction surgery. Assuming you are in good health,  you choose a well  experienced board-certified plastic surgeon and have the procedure done in a fully accredited facility the chances of safe and successful procedure  is extremely high. 

I'm with you;  I prefer doing liposuction surgery under general anesthesia.

Best wishes. 

Avoiding Liposuction Dangers

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Questions sometimes arise as to the safety of plastic surgery.  Plastic surgery can be performed safely as long as certain criteria are met.  Essentials include having the surgeon board certiifed in their given speciality.  They should also hold hospital privileges to perform the same procedure.  The procedure should also be performed in an accredited facility. 

In terms of liposuction, liposuction can be performed safely in the outpatient setting under general anesthesia.   The surgeon should be well qualified to perform the operation and should hold hospital privileges to perform the same operation.   

There are some new modalities available as well to treat these stubborn areas without undergoing traditional liposuction.  These modalities include both laser and fat freezing techniques that target the fat cells in those areas.  These modalities can performed without anesthesia, with minimal discomfort and no down time. 

Bill Kortesis, MD
Charlotte Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 90 reviews

Liposuction of the love handles

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Thank you for question. I understand you fears.

These "horror stories" of wannabe plastic surgeons doing liposuction in their office give reputable plastic surgeons a bad name.

Liposuction of the flanks is a safe and effective treatment of the love handles.

Make sure you pick a board-certifed plastic surgeon who does the procedure in an accredited facility. If you have medical conditions, see your primary care doctor for medical clearance prior to undergoing any surgery.

J. Jason Wendel, MD, FACS
Nashville Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 221 reviews

Liposuction - Safety and Risks

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

This is potentially a long and involved discussion, and your concerns are understandable.  But, statistically, lipo is inherently a safe procedure.  Hundreds of thousands of procedures are performed each year in this country alone, and, however unacceptable even a single complication may be, the worst ones tend to garner a disproportionate share of the publicity more rationally due them.  Regardless, if you're interested in this procedure then following the usual recommendations is the best way to start:  use a board certified surgeon, insist on an accredited facility, don't have too much surgery at any one time, etc.  This normally produces good results and happy patients.  There is, of course, no way to guarantee a specific result or even that there won't be a complication, but that's also true of things that are done regularly as part of one's daily life (like walking across the street, etc).

I hope that this helps, and good luck,
Dr. E

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.