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Want to Shape Your Body with Surgery?: Liposuction Explained 
 
by Carrie McClain June 26, 2005

Risks

Yes. Fatality is a risk with any surgery. There are many studies on the risk of death from liposuction. Some studies say 3 in 100,000 and others report 20-100 deaths per 100,000. The FDA reports the following as possible complications from liposuction:

Infection

Your doctor should take all precautions against infection. Many surgeons will prescribe antibiotics immediately following liposuction procedures. Risk of infection can also be reduced if you keep the area clean after surgery. Even with proper precautions, you may still develop an infection. You could have a mild infection, easily treated with antibiotics, or a rare but potentially deadly infection such as toxic shock syndrome.

Embolism

When the fat is loosened, there is a possibility that a fat clot could travel into the blood stream to the brain, heart, lungs or other organs. Fat emboli are sometimes treatable, but can cause permanent disability or death. You will be watched for symptoms of fat emboli after surgery.

Visceral Perforations

Basically, this happens when the wand or cannula used to collect fat punctures an internal organ. You may require additional surgery to fix the wound, and it can of course cause death.

Seroma

This condition is often treatable. Seroma is a collection of fluid in the areas where fat was removed.

Nerve Compression and Sensation Changes

These symptoms are common, and can last up to a year and in some cases be permanent. You may experience increased or decreased sensation or pain from compressed nerves in the area where liposuction was performed.

Swelling

Swelling is expected after liposuction surgery. Some swelling can last up to 3 months after surgery, obscuring results.

Skin Necrosis

The skin above the liposuction area could die. This condition could increase your chances of infection.

Burns

Burns and cell damage is possible with Ultrasound-Assisted Liposuction.

Fluid Imbalance

Your doctor will watch you for symptoms of a fluid imbalance. Fat tissue contains a lot of fluid, and its removal can cause heart problems, lung fluid, or kidney problems.

Toxicity from Anesthesia

It is possible to have adverse reactions to the lidocaine used in the fluid. Symptoms are usually apparent during or directly following surgery, but it is possible to develop them at home. Be aware that signs include lightheadedness, restlessness, drowsiness, ringing in the ears, metallic taste, numb lips and tongue, shivering, muscle twitching, and convulsions.

Be aware of all of these risks and the signs and symptoms associated with them.

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