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Liposuction Gone Wrong – Things You Should Know About

Updated on August 22, 2011

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How to know that a liposuction has gone wrong?

There are many symptoms that can foretell a failure in liposuction, among them are apparent asymmetry in both legs, obvious sunken skin in the upper knees, pit-like areas in the butt after lipo and uneven skins around the waist and abdomen. Usually pit-like skin is caused by suctioning too much fat cells, whereas a mild protrusion on the skin is due to less suctioning. Liposuction that has seriously gone wrong needs to be fixed through a liposuction repair.

Causes of liposuction failure

For liposuction surgery, the fat should be suctioned both at the deep layer and shallow layer, usually, fat is suctioned out in a hollow tube through an incision on the skin, sometimes, there will be several incisions on the skin, all of which need to be treated. When in operation, liposuction is done from the center of the incision place and spread to other fat tissues around the incision. Experienced doctor will pay special attention to the suction degree during the whole process and achieves better results. Liposuction is quite demanding on doctor’s skills, if the cannula is inserted too deep under the skin, it may cause uneven skin surface after the surgery, while if the cannula is inserted too shallow, usually, it is easy to reach the bottom layer of skin corium, where there is a largely integrated vascular network with lots of blood vessels and capillary vessels, thus increasing the risk of damaging blood vessels and resulting in subcutaneous bleeding and swelling.

Many parts of the body can have liposuction to improve their shape and achieve some immediate results. This includes abdomen, thigh and calf, shoulder and arm, face, etc.. One of the major concern in liposuction is the degree of the operation to be done. Taking the most common abdomen liposuction as an example, some subcutaneous fat should be left, with thickness about 1 to 1.5 cm. Because too much suction of belly fat leaves an unnatural “skinny” feeling of the belly, which is unattractive and far away from true beauty. Moderate fat suction is the best choice in most cases.

Severe uneven skin surface after liposuction is mainly caused by malpractice or inexperience of the surgeon. The cannula – a hollow liposuction tube – has on its end 1 to 3 holes, each about 4 mm in diameter. In the procedure when the liposuction machine is turned on, fat cells near these holes will quickly be sucked out through the tube, whereas, fat cells far away from the holes are less likely to be sucked out. Also, in the procedure, the cannula is constantly moving in the subcutaneous tissues, there are places where the tubes touch more and suction more, and places where the tubes touch less and suction less, this may also lead to uneven amount of fat cells being sucked out of the body. What’s more, there are also cases when fat in the shallow layers under the skin are suctioned unevenly, which leads to adhesion to the subcutaneous tissue and uneven skin surface after the surgery.

On the whole, reasons that lead to liposuction going wrong are in general due to: 1, Lack of standard operation procedures of the medical institution, 2, Malpractice or lack of skills of the plastic surgeon, 3, Low quality medical equipment, 4, Improper surgical treatment such as lack of disinfection etc. All the above reasons contribute to the failure of liposuction, and they should be strictly avoided in the first place.

What to do when liposuction has gone wrong seriously?

Well, for those who are unfortunate to have serious liposuction failures, the only way out is through liposuction repair. It is a type of cosmetic surgery that repairs liposuction failure such as uneven skin, bilateral asymmetry to minimize the negative impact from the first round of liposuction and improves the appearance from the previous failure. If done properly, liposuction repair can successfully repair the error from the previous surgery, and has a result perfect enough to compete with those successful surgeries.

However, there are also some basic principles for a liposuction repair:

  • Do not rush to take the repair surgery immediately after the first liposuction has gone wrong, you should wait for at least six months before you are able to take a second surgery.
  • Liposuction repair procedure should be re-designed, and in the operation, fat tissues should be retained as much as possible instead of being arbitrarily eliminated again.
  • Adjustment should be made to overcome the shortcomings from the first surgery.
  • You should be aware that trauma recovery in the second liposuction may take much longer to recover than after the previous surgery.

What to do after a liposuction repair?

After the first liposuction has gone wrong, post-operative care is very important to its liposuction repair, it should be done with great care to avoid any further troubles. Below are some basic tips that are helpful:

  • Do not eat seafood or spicy food during the recovery period.
  • Mild activities are recommended instead of staying in bed all day long, mental or light manual work will not hurt the patient in his or her recovery.
  • There is still some subcutaneous fluids remained in the surgical area, so there may be some liquids leaking out in the first day of the repair surgery. You can apply on the dressing with gauze or a sanitary towel if leaking fluids soaked the dressing. Do not take away the dressing to avoid contamination.
  • Do not take a shower for 3 to 5 days after the surgery to avoid contamination on the wound.
  • Wear a post-liposuction girdle for at least 3 months after the surgery, you can adjust the pressure accordingly.
  • Skin after liposuction is less sensitive to heat, which may cause heat damage in the skin if it is exposed to heat source for a long time. You should stay away from any physical therapy that can produce lots of heat.


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    • profile image

      Bea 7 mons. ago 

      3 years ago

      I had Liposuction to multiple areas, esp, my abdomen. I have a large lump on my left side of abdomen. It actually feels like something moves like a baby would. I had my PCP doctor do a CT scan of area and nothing was noted. Especially after I eat the lump appears to get larger. You can see left side of abdomen is like a lump and not on right side. What could be causing this? I do not want to go back to doctor who performed my Lipo. What should I do, worried!!!

    • profile image

      4 years ago

      Hi Bonnie. I answered your question on the other hubpage: I suggested an Orthopedist, and most importantly, a doctor who listens and respects you enough to persist until all of your questions are answered -- possibly an MRI could be a helpful daignostic tool. Many surgeons may try to outlast their liability by not making it a priority to get the patient the help they might need. Liposuction is very imprecise and dangerous, contrary to the misleading marketing schemes. I hope this helps.

    • profile image

      bonnie geller 

      4 years ago

      I have posted this comment on another one of your hub pages, and need what ever input I can get on this matter I have. If anyone has any suggestions for my problem, please let me know. I had liposuction done on my outer thigh(it was done so the fat removed could be used for a fat transfer to under my eyes) and it has not only left a scar and indentation, I also have pain in my outer thigh and buttocks area. I didn't even understand why he took the fat from my thigh area as that is one of the thinner parts of my body. I have plenty of fat that he could've taken from my belly, but he chose not to. As soon as I start walking, it feels as though the muscle is tightening and cramping, and if I keep walking , the pain only gets worse, unless I stop and rest. I have mentioned this to the surgeon at every visit for the past two years, and all he has said to me was that I must just take a long time to heal, and he has also said he doesn't know what to tell me. He never once told me to see any other doctor for this problem, or had any suggestions as to what I should or can do for it. I took it upon myself to see a neurologist, but he said there doesn't seem to be nerve damage. What can I do to find out what sort of damage this doctor has done to me? There is definitely something very wrong with that area of my outer thigh and buttocks, as it hurts as soon as I even do any light activity. You say in your article to immediately seek medical attention, which I didn't because I took the doctor for his word, that I must take long to heal. So, I was patient and waited. My question is what kind of doctor should I see to find out what this surgeon has done to me? People have said see a doctor immediately, but no one has ever told me what sort of doctor I should see! And also, if there is damage, can it be repaired? As I fear he has done some sort of damage to the muscles in my outer thigh and buttocks area.

    • profile image

      4 years ago

      When liposuction has gone seriously wrong, nothing can repair it. Liposuction gone seriously wrong means permanent disfigurement, disability, (chronic pain, loss of function), and of course death. Oh, yes, and eventually there will be adipose re accumulation in untreated areas, of course

      Really botched liposuction can be performed by American Board Plastic Surgeons as readily as by uncertified or overseas doctors. This liposuction surgery can ruin your life.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      After a couple of highly successful liposuctions on my inner and outer thighs -- perfect results -- I had my waist, flanks, and abdomen done by a different surgeon. (My previous surgeon had moved 3,000 miles to the other side of the country, so he recommended this new guy.)

      My waist and back look great, but I have upside-down, v-shaped ridges that sag across my stomach. My navel's also been distorted into a weird shape and as part of the same mess. I wore bikinis before this procedure; now, I'm too embarrassed to show my mid-section to anybody (including my husband).

      Can this disaster be fixed? Has anyone had the same problem corrected? Help!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I did a liposuction for abdomen, flank, culotte de cheval since 3 months, and till date I have just loose 1 cm in abdomen. How can I know if it's because of swelling or if the fats were not removed correctly? my doc said that it seems that my body takes longer time to recover, could it be true??

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      My lipo went wrong and I have severe asymmetry on my abdomen . From one side no fat last at all !

      Thinking to get lipo repair and fat transfer.

    • ournote2self profile image


      7 years ago

      Yikes! Getting plastic surgery might not be worth it if it causes problems that require a correction! I think I'll just keep my lumpy legs!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Thank you so much you gave me hope I did liposuction two years ago and my thighs completely damaged hopefully this time I can pick the good doctor because the doctor did it to me she was sux ,,, can you please give me some of good doctors names to repair my damaged thighs :(


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