Major Health Risks and Fatal Complications of Liposuction?

I am considering abdomen/waist/flanks/back and arm liposuction with fat transfer to the breasts. I have researched & understand the risks after the surgery (swelling, pain, unevenness, etc). I want to learn more about major health risk (i.e. blood clotting & heart health). Who is at risk for these sorts of issues and how can they be avoided? Reference: I'm 5'1 and 130 lbs, I hope to have 5-10 lbs removed, I eat healthy and exercise regularly. I don't have family history of clotting disorders.

Doctor Answers 7

Major Health Risks and Fatal Complications of Liposuction

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Dear Jenelle, Thank you for posting your interesting question. Based on your height and weight, you have a normal Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25. You also report that you do not have a family history of clotting disorders, which is great. You do not mention if you take any medications, including birth control pills, which should be stopped 2-4 weeks prior to your procedure to significanly minimize the risk of blood clotting problems like deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolus. I believe that you are an excellent candidate and would be considered a low risk for a major complication based on this. I recommend that you have a consultation with a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon who is experienced  with liposuction and fat transfers. At the time of the consultation, you will have a detailed medical history, examination, discuss your goals, review the surgeon's before and after photographs and decide what is the optimal procedure for you. Also, make sure that you have the procedure per formed in an accredited surgical facility and have a Board Certified Anesthesiologist experienced with outpatient elective cosmetic surgery. Best wishes, Dr. Richard Swift

Abdominoplasty and Abdominal Contour Surgery: A National Plastic Surgery Survey

Swift, Richard W.; Matarasso, Alan; Rankin, Marlene

Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery. 119(1):426-427, January 2007.

Liposuction in the slender patient.

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Liposuction, like any surgeical procedure, carries risks, but in slender healthy patients like you they are very unlikely. See a board certified plastic surgeon who does a ton of liposuction and operates at a certified facility and you will be in good hands. Do not hesitates to ask; how many liposuctions in patients like me have you performed last year Dr.? Do not settle for vague answers. For example on the last 1000 liposuctions I performed in patients weighing less than 150 lbs, I remember no major health complications Ike the ones you mention, but that doesn't mean they can not happen.  Five pounds means around 2.25 litters and that is the average amount I suction. Anything less and you won't see a significant difference. Keep your expectations realistic and good luck.

Ayman Hakki, MD
Waldorf Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 34 reviews


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In a young, healthy patient, the risks of liposuction are low. I perform this procedure quite often, and I find that the recovery is quick and the risks are low for most patients.  Best of luck.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Risks of Liposuction

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There are very little risks of liposuction if done by a well trained physician.  Blood clots, infections, scarring/necrosis are all possible.  I suggest you see an expert.  Best, Dr. Emer.

Jason Emer, MD
Los Angeles Dermatologic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 207 reviews

Liposuction and fat transfer to breasts - risks?

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Thank you for asking about your liposuction and fat transfers to your breasts.

  • Good for you for planning ahead -
  • Surgical health risks related to your health, the quality of the surgery and anesthesia and what is done.
  • Assuming you are not a smoker, are healthy (no uncontrolled diabetes or high blood pressure for instance), that your surgery is being done by a qualified plastic surgeon and done at an out-patient accredited surgery center with a qualified anesthesiologist in attendance - your risk of major complications is very low.
  • You will be walking soon after surgery -reducing blood clotting risk.
  • Your surgery will not be longer than 6 hours - a safe length of surgery.
  • You have no long incisions - reducing infection risk.
  • Probably your greatest risk is that the fat transfers do not take or that the amount that survives is disappointingly small.
  • The chief problem with fat transfers is that swelling makes a lovely result in the beginning so you truly can 't tell how things will turn out for at least 6 weeks at the earliest.
  • So my approach is - have the liposuction if you want it and have the transfers as a bonus.
  • That way you still have success with your primary operation.

Always see a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon. Best wishes  - Elizabeth Morgan MD PHD FACS

Major health issues with complications of liposuction?

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Risks  you elucidated are what you get with liposuction. Major complicatios are a fraction of a percent. Death, major infection, and blood clots are in that small fraction. The initial history and physical examination are the 1st means of minimizing that problem. Choosing an experienced Board Certified Plastic Surgeon is important as well. He/she will determine from that examination whether  one is a candidate for liposuction. The extent of the liposuction impacts on the complication potential. The experienced Plastic Surgeon makes the assessment and then formulates a treatment plan which affords you an outcome that is safe as well as asthetically appealing. Do not smoke and avoid birth control hormonal shots within 2 weeks of surgery. Stay well hydrated, and walk often post surgery. Given your dimensions you are an excellent candidate for liposuction. You will not lose significant weight. Liposuction is about body contouring. Not weight loss.

Liposuction risks

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Liposuction is a body contouring procedure, not a weight loss method. You will not lose 5-10 pounds from it.  In terms of risks, these are associated with large volume liposuction, which has been restricted in various states. All patients in my practice are required to have full pre op blood testing and medical clearance. Your surgeon will advise as to which medications and OTC supplements are contraindicated.

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.