How is Liposuction Done?
In the United States, over 200,000 liposuction procedures are done every year, making it one of the most common cosmetic surgeries in the country.
Liposuction is the cosmetic surgical extraction of fat deposits from specific areas in the body. Commonly targeted areas include the abdomen, buttocks, hips, knees, arms, back, calves, and thighs.
Liposuction breaks up and suctions fat out of the body with a hollow instrument called a cannula. The cannula is inserted through an incision made into the skin and then uses a strong vacuum to remove the fat.
In ultrasonic-assisted liposuction (UAL), ultrasonic energy is used to energize the cannula, causing the fat to melt away upon contact with the tool. This method has the advantage of treating scar tissue in areas such as male breasts, the back, and in other areas of prior treatment.
UAL’s risks are associated with the longer incision in the skin, the possibility of superficial and internal burns, increased costs, and longer recovery time.
Instead of using a laser to help break down fat before removal, tumescent liposuction involves pumping several liters of a liquid solution below the skin to be later suctioned out.
The solution is composed of salt water, the local anesthetic lidocaine (to numb the surgical site), and epinephrine (to constrict the vessels for minimal bleeding). Its primary purpose is to help the surgeon better control the contouring process by causing the fat to swell and become firmer.
Fat is later removed through traditional liposuction techniques, using a cannula to break down and suck the fatty material and liquid into a specialized collection system. This procedure is a common variation of liposuction thanks to its efficiency and safety.
Notable Cases of Damage From Tumescent Liposuction
Among 48,527 people counted by the Office of Chief Medical Examiner of the City of New York, from the years 1993 to 1998, five deaths resulted due to tumescent liposuction. The cases were published and reported by the New England Journal of Medicine.
Victim ages ranged from 33 to 54, four of them being women. All of the victims received lidocaine during their procedure.
Three died due to a slowed down heart rate and a steep drop in their blood pressure. Lidocaine has been documented to lower one’s pulse, and is sometimes used as an emergency measure to slow those with rapid heart rates.
One patient died due to too much fluid present in the body. Doctors had administered more than 13 quarts of fluid. Seven liters were intravenous while six were pumped into the treatment areas such as the breasts, chest, arms, back, abs, thighs, buttocks, and knees. Her body was unable to handle that much fluid, and when the excess collected in her lungs, she essentially drowned to death.
Another case was a death that resulted from a blood clot in the lungs. During a tumescent liposuction procedure on the legs, a clot formed in the calf veins of the patient, breaking loose and wedging into her lungs.
Tumescent liposuction is a procedure heralded by many for its minimal negative consequences. Nevertheless, as a patient, you must realize that all of these procedures can come with their unique risks.
Top doctors conclude that liposuction can be a fatal procedure. The dangers of tumescent liposuction typically relate to the use of lidocaine, whose toxicity can produce dangerous reactions with other medications the patient might have in their system.
In conclusion, whatever type of liposuction you receive, you must consider that it is usually a cosmetic procedure. This means that it is entirely optional, and you will be facing certain risks.
Before considering an operation like this, talk to your surgeon to understand all of the risks associated with liposuction.