What are the risks of doing abdominal liposuction under local anesthesia 5 months post op tummy tuck?

My abdominal flap (lower belly) bulges out and has fat that my surgeon said he can do liposuction on. There is not alot of fat i am pretty lean however have a small bulge. I am scared of having a potential problem like fat embolism or pulmonary embolism and risking my life. What are my chances of having complications?

Doctor Answers 4

Risks of abdominal liposuction

Dear foreveryoung908,

Liposuction performed on lower abdominal fat after tummy tuck is a very low risk procedure. In general, it can be performed under local anesthesia and light oral sedation. Modern liposuction techniques such as BodyTite, SmartLipo and Vaserlipo allow liquification of fat, coagulation of small blood vessels and enhanced skin contraction to minimize the biggest risk, which is irregularity, indentations or lumps. A thorough discussion of the risk, benefits and recovery with your plastic surgeon is part of the consultation process. There are extremely rare risks such as pulmonary embolism, deep venous thrombosis, fat embolism syndrome, necrotizing fasciitis, septicemia and even death.

However, most of these complications for localized small zone liposuction performed, as an outpatient under local anesthesia would be the order of one in several million. There are far greater risks associated with your tummy tuck procedure, which you underwent uneventfully presumably.
It is always wise as a patient to be judicious, educated and concerned but excessive fear over risks is generally not warranted especially for small zone liposuction. The biggest risk of all is suboptimal contours with over-resection, indentation or irregularities. I’m sure your tummy tuck physician has a lot of experience with liposuction and can sit down and review the risks with you.

I hope this information has been of some assistance and best of luck.

For more information, please review the link below.

R. Stephen Mulholland, M.D.
Certified Plastic Surgeon
Yorkville, Toronto


Toronto Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 82 reviews

Staged liposuction after tummy tuck is not a problem if the surgeon has the appropriate experience, skill and training

So many of your questions are about pulmonary and fat embolism that it makes me wonder whether you have a hypercoagulable condition that you aren't reporting to the surgeon.  The technical problems associated with liposuction after tummy tuck at 5 months are not really an issue for a surgeon who has the skill, training, and expertise to perform this operation.   The scar from the tummy tuck does not pose that much of an additional issue.  I always stage my tummy tuck liposuction procedures, either one or the other first depending on the patient's anatomy, goals and expectations.  Therefore, it is not uncommon for me to perform liposuction after tummy tuck.

Risks of liposuction as touch up to tummy tuck.

The original tummy tuck procedure has considerably more risk than your subsequent liposuction.  Liposuction is generally a very safe procedure in the  hands of a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon.  The risk of pulmonary embolism and fat embolism are higher in large volume liposuctions (more than 5 liters of fat removal).  For a small area and low volume of fat removal, these risks should be minimal.

Liposuction complications

Certainly it's a good idea to consider complications of any elective cosmetic procedure. However, fat embolism is extremely rare and I have not seen that ever in 25 years of doing cosmetic liposuction. Waviness of the overlying skin would be the number one complication that I would expect. I recommend you see a board-certified plastic surgeon in your area and discuss these concerns with here or she. Good luck. 

Marc J. Salzman, MD, FACS
Louisville Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 44 reviews

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.