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Liposuction Risks: How to Protect Yourself From Possible Complications

Plastic surgeons have been performing liposuction procedures since the early ‘80’s. While anyone thinking about this surgery needs to carefully consider the risks, it’s important to realize that medical advancements over the years have significantly reduced the potential for complications.

We uncover the potential complications and risks that of liposuction as they stand today and what you can do to minimize them.

1. Complications Due to Anesthesia

There are two options when it comes to anesthesia for liposuction: general anesthesia and local anesthesia. At Austin-Weston, The Center for Cosmetic Surgery, we always use local anesthesia for liposuction.  We use it to numb the fat and to reduce the bleeding during the procedure.  But instilling that local anesthesia is uncomfortable and here, at our accredited center, we have the ability to administer general anesthesia to make that process painless.

With general anesthesia, the patient’s entire body is sedated. If your liposuction is combined with another procedure such as a tummy tuck or breast augmentation, general anesthesia is preferable. It’s safer and more comfortable.

Depending on your personal medical history, the amount of fat being removed, and other surgical goals, your doctor will recommend the anesthesia method that is right for you. Both types carry certain risks, but these problems are mitigated by skilled staff.

As long as you choose a cosmetic surgery facility with certified medical professionals, your risk for complications from anesthesia is quite low. There are careful calculations based on the weight that tell your anesthetist precisely how much anesthesia to administer. Choose a surgical staff you can trust.

2. Bleeding Risks

When it comes to liposuction risks that could result from bleeding during surgery, the likelihood of complications is extremely low. This is where medical advancements in liposuction technology are a real benefit to current patients. 10 or 20 years ago, there were strict limits to the amount of fat that could be removed during liposuction because 33% of the material being removed was blood. Today, only 1% of the material being removed during liposuction is blood, so the risk of bleeding complications has significantly decreased.

As with any surgery, there remains the possibility of damaging blood vessels and other deep tissues. The best way to minimize your risk here is to make sure your surgery is performed in a fully equipped surgical facility. With an experienced surgeon, you can rest assured that you are in good hands and those complications should be rare.

3. Infection risks

Another risk associated with any surgery is the risk of infection. Of course, all board-certified plastic surgeons know how to minimize those risks, and at Austin-Weston, we’ve been refining our techniques for years.

First, we own our operating rooms.  That might not sound like a big deal, but only our patients have access to them.  All of our cases are “clean” cases.  Our instruments are never used in a case of appendicitis, for example, before being used on you.  Even being used in our own facility, our sterilization process is meticulous.  We even filter all of our building’s water!

We administer IV antibiotics during the surgery and make sure that the room temperature during surgery is high enough to keep your body warm. (Warm bodies are better able to defend themselves against possible infections.)

All each patient receives their prescriptions for post-op antibiotics before the day of surgery. This way, patients can fill their prescriptions early and be ready to take the first dose the morning after surgery. We take all possible precautions to avoid infection and all other surgery risks.

4. Contouring Irregularities and Loss of Sensation

Beyond the types of serious complications associated with any surgery you could undergo, some less severe problems can arise related explicitly to liposuction. These issues are considered less severe because, in most cases, they can be corrected or just go away on their own.

First, contouring irregularities can occur. It’s not uncommon to have some nodules or small lumps in the liposuction area. These can result from deep bruising and usually shrink as the body heals itself. For any nodules that do not disappear on their own, we can go in and correct the issue fairly easily with an additional liposuction treatment or by adding some fat back in strategic areas to get that smooth appearance.

Occasionally, a patient will come in with some rippling or loose skin, around the abdomen, for instance. This can result from another doctor being too aggressive with the liposuction technique usually to remove more fat than is realistic. We avoid this type of complication by talking with our patients and educating them about what they can expect.

Another less serious liposuction risk is the loss of sensation around the surgical site. This is very unlikely to occur as a result of liposuction, but it is possible for nerves to be bruised or injured during the procedure. Even if you experience some loss of sensation post-surgery, this is typically temporary. Be sure to talk to your doctor about any concerns during your post-op visits.

How to Minimize Liposuction Risks

While liposuction is a procedure that our surgeons have performed on tens of thousands of patients, and we do all that we can to minimize the risk to our patients, we can’t stress enough the importance of educating yourself. Just as you expect your surgeon to be committed to doing his part to keep you safe, your surgeon is counting on you to do your part to minimize your risks.

Here are some recommendations from our board-certified surgeons:

  • Make sure you have realistic expectations: If you have realistic expectations, there will be no pressure on your doctor to push the limits of what liposuction can do for you. Keep the following in mind:
    • Liposuction is more about giving you the shape you want than changing your numbers on the scale.
    • Don’t count on liposuction as a weight loss solution.
  • Look at before and after photos: Part of knowing what to expect means doing your research. Look at before and after pictures of patients with similar body proportions and talk to other liposuction patients if possible.
  • Choose your doctor carefully: Finding the right doctor can make all of the difference. If you are hesitating or don’t feel comfortable being honest with your surgeon, that’s a sign that you may want to reconsider.
  • Be in best possible shape: This is important for any surgery. Make sure that you give up smoking, have control over your blood pressure, and have decent sugar levels if you have diabetes. Secondary conditions can affect your results and how you heal after liposuction surgery. Come in healthy and excited!

The doctors and friendly staff at Austin-Weston are happy to answer any and all questions you might have about liposuction or any other cosmetic surgery. Our goal is to create an atmosphere for the community of Northern Virginia or Washington DC area and ensure our patients felt safe and supported in their surgical choices.

If you live in the Northern Virginia or Washington DC area and are ready to reclaim your confidencecontact us to schedule a complimentary consultation at (703) 893-6168 or submit a form online to request an appointment.


* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.