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Many hundreds of liposuction procedures are performed each year. The vast majority of these treatments precede safely with no adverse events or complications arising or with only minor complications such as mild bruising of the skin. However, liposuction is a medical procedure and has the potential to cause serious side effects and even death in a very small proportion of patients. Before having this procedure done, you should be aware of the dangers of liposuction and how you can minimize these dangers. You should also know whether you have medical characteristics which enhance liposuction dangers.
Minor Liposuction Dangers
There are a number of less severe complications that can arise during or after the liposuction procedure. These occur in some patients and not in others. Whether you experience these minor liposuction dangers will depend on your body type and biology, the experience and skill of the cosmetic surgeon, and simple human errors as made by the doctor and his or her staff.
Bruising and Scars
Some people experience minor bruising after the liposuction procedure. This bruising is rarely excessive and not often dangerous but can be a bit uncomfortable for a short time after the liposuction. As with any bruise, the bruises after liposuction will fade. Scars are often an unavoidable result of liposuction and, as with most scars, these will be permanent. However, a skilled cosmetic surgeon will make liposuction incisions in places where they will be difficult or impossible to see. Incisions are usually made in natural skin creases, underneath pubic hair, or, for abdomen liposuction, in the belly button. These routine scars are rarely dangerous unless they do not heal properly. Massaging scars and shielding them for the sun will help scars to fade somewhat.
Lumpy Skin and Other Irregularities
Other fairly common minor dangers of liposuction are skin lumpiness, loss of symmetry, or contour irregularities in the areas where liposuction was performed. Some doctors tell their patients that these kinds of minor problems occur in up to 20 percent of their patients. Again, unless some other complication occurs, these are minor occurrences and not dangerous. However, when these irregularities occur, they often require revision liposuction to correct.
Excess and Saggy Skin
If a good deal of fat is removed during the liposuction, it is fairly likely that the skin above these areas will hang somewhat loosely after the procedure. This is a natural consequence of the fat extraction. Correction of excess skin may require additional cosmetic treatment. This minor danger is more common among older liposuction patients.
Severe Liposuction Dangers
There are also a number of dangers to liposuction that can have severe consequences, with some even resulting in death in a very small proportion of patients. Infections of the liposuction scars or of the tissues underneath is one such danger. Although most such infections are minor and can be treated with a course of antibiotics, infections left untreated can become major health threats.
During the liposuction surgery, it is possible for the doctor to accidentally perforate the organs with the cannula. This can result in serious complications as a result of organ failure or infection. Burns are also possible when being treated with ultrasonic liposuction if the sound waves used in this technique are not properly controlled. The surgeon should avoid prolonged contact of the cannula with the skin or tissue.
In some cases, swelling after liposuction can persist for several weeks or even months, resulting in pressure on the nerves and a resultant numbness or tingling. At times, the accumulation of fluid must be drained from the tissues with a needle, causing increased discomfort to the patient.
The most serious of the liposuction dangers often have to do with either poor reactions to the anesthesia or to the lidocaine or other drugs used during or after treatment. As with any surgery, reactions to anesthesia have the potential to result in brain damage or death. Lidocaine overdoses are a possible complication. These are rarely severe because of the small amount of the drug used, but reactions have the possibility of escalation. All drugs have potential for severe reactions in some individuals.
Minimizing Liposuction Dangers
The best way to minimize the dangers of liposuction is to make sure you are in good health when the procedure is performed. Those with heart or liver disease, diabetes, and other serious health problems should avoid liposuction. Warn the surgeon if you have a hernia, as it can get punctured during liposuction. Very obese persons should avoid this treatment as well given the stresses that obesity puts on the body.
You should also be aware of who is performing the liposuction. Only experienced cosmetic surgeons should perform this highly technical treatment. As well, the clinic at which the treatment is being done should conform to the best medical practices to avoid liposuction dangers such as infection and misapplication of anesthesia.
Finally, one of the most common dangers of liposuction is over-treatment. Large fat deposits should be extracted over several treatments to minimize the risk of sagging skin and overexposure to anesthesia. In the same vein, having liposuction performed on many areas of the body at the same time should be avoided. Following this and the other recommendations will greatly diminish your liposuction dangers
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