How Safe is Liposuction?
Christopher Chung, M.D.
American Board of Plastic Surgery
Chief Medical Officer
Many patients considering liposuction as a means of reducing stubborn body fat and achieving their dream body find themselves thinking long and hard about one big factor: safety.
The safety of liposuction is a major consideration for patients and surgeons alike, and one of the biggest factors influencing a person’s decision to move forward with liposuction for fat removal.
Fortunately, the safety of modern liposuction has come a long way in the past few decades, and the result is safer procedures for patients.
Is liposuction safe?
Yes, liposuction is a safe and effective procedure for removing stubborn body fat.
Thanks to improvements in the techniques and technology used to perform procedures today, liposuction is now safer than ever before—meaning patients today can feel confident they can achieve the body they want without risking serious complications.
That said, no procedure is without risks. It’s best to talk with your surgeon to truly understand the possible risks and side effects of any procedure prior to moving forward.
What are the risks of liposuction?
Liposuction is a medical procedure, and like any medical procedure there may be risks involved to the patient. These risks may include:
- blood clots
- surface irregularities
- persistent swelling
- reactions to medication
- heart or kidney problems
Fortunately, the likelihood of these risks turning into complications for patients is very low.
Sono Bello’s 185+ Board Certified surgeons across the country specialize in providing safe and effective liposuction to help minimize these risks for patients as much as possible.
What are the side effects of liposuction?
Although the vast majority of Sono Bello liposuction patients see little to no side effects as a result of their liposuction procedure, some side effects are still a possibility for those who have received liposuction.
The potential (if unlikely) side effects of liposuction may include:
- Irregularities or uneven contouring in treated areas, sometimes due to uneven fat removal or unusual healing
- Numbness, bruising or swelling, all of which tend to disappear during recovery
- Fluid imbalances (when not properly performed)
- Minimal scarring
- Fluid drainage from the incision sites, which usually stops after a few days.
Sono Bello’s Board-Certified surgeons are specifically trained with the latest techniques and technology, allowing them to provide liposuction with minimal to no side effects (both short- and long-term) for their patients.
Who is a good candidate for liposuction?
Modern liposuction is designed to provide the maximum fat removal for as many patients as possible.
However, like any medical procedure, there are certain candidates who may be a better fit for the procedure than others.
A good candidate for liposuction may include anyone who:
- Is looking for highly targeted fat loss in stubborn body areas, not overall weight loss
- Is at or near their ideal body weight (within 30%)
- Has a body mass index (BMI) of less than 42
- Is in good overall health
- Has the time off of work for proper recovery
For some patients with unique health challenges or the potential for complications, liposuction may not be the best fit for their body goals.
A patient may not be well-suited for Sono Bello liposuction if they:
- Have a BMI over 42
- Wear a pacemaker or have a history of heart problems
- Are living with uncontrolled diabetes
- Are actively receiving chemotherapy
- Recently had a heart attack (within five years)
- Are pregnant
- Are on dialysis
- Use an oxygen tank
- Are on an organ transplant waiting list
- Are taking blood-thinning medication
- Have been diagnosed with heart disease
- Experience kidney or liver disorders
- Have had surgery in the targeted area in the past six months
The best way for a patient to understand their eligibility for liposuction and make the right plan for their procedure is to talk with a patient care consultant during a free consultation with Sono Bello.
How safe is liposuction today compared to the past?
While liposuction may have had a reputation as being “less than safe” in years past, especially in the media or in popular entertainment, the reality today is actually quite far from this misconception.
During the 1980s liposuction increased in popularity as patients wanted to get rid of excess fat, particularly the kind of fat that was genetically inherited and resisted efforts such as diet and exercise. This came right alongside some major advancements in the safety of liposuction, opening the procedure up to more patients than ever before.
A big reason for the increase in safety: major improvements in the techniques and technology used in liposuction procedures.
For instance: over the years, improvements in the technique of liposuction and the establishment of guidelines in the medical community for the amount of lidocaine used and fat removed, both within a 24-hour period, have greatly improved the safety of liposuction.
Is awake liposuction safer than liposuction with general anesthesia?
In the past, much of the risk of the traditional liposuction procedure also came from the general anesthesia itself, which can cause complications and reactions in some patients even when properly administered.
That’s why Sono Bello focuses specifically on using only localized anesthesia in all liposuction procedures, helping to not only greatly reduce the risk to the patient but also to significantly speed up and ease the recovery process.
What is tumescent fluid? How does it make liposuction safer?
Similar to the changes in the use of lidocaine, the advent of tumescent fluid has also helped to make liposuction safer. Using tumescent fluid, surgeons are now able to remove more fat in a single procedure without impacting the overall safety of liposuction.
Tumescent fluid is a solution consisting of IV fluid to which has been added Lidocaine for anesthesia and Epinephrine for vasoconstriction so that the blood loss previously associated with liposuction was greatly reduced—making liposuction safer.
That said, there are limits to how much tumescent fluid can be used in a given patient and it is based on the patient’s weight to avoid lidocaine toxicity. That is why Sono Bello surgeons take great care in calculating the right amount of tumescent fluid for each patient, allowing them to remove the maximum amount of fat in a single procedure without adding risk for the patient.
Are there limits to how much fat can be safely removed through liposuction?
The maximum amount of allowable fat removed during a liposuction procedure is generally set by each state’s medical board, meaning each state in the United States has its own individual statutory volume guidelines for liposuction.
In most cases, each liposuction event may result in a maximum of 4000-5000cc of fat being removed from a patient. When paired with a healthy lifestyle and maintenance after the procedure, this can translate to significant weight loss for individual patients.
However, each patient’s experience and optimal amount of fat removed in a single liposuction procedure may be largely determined by that patient’s unique needs and considerations.
That’s why it’s best for each patient to discuss their goals and expectations with a Sono Bello patient care consultant and with their surgeon prior to their liposuction, so they can feel confident they understand how much fat can actually be removed during their procedure.
Safe liposuction is possible thanks to modern techniques and skilled surgeons
The use of tumescent fluid and optimizing the amount of fat removed in a single procedure have greatly increased the safety of liposuction.
However, to answer the question “how safe is liposuction?”, ultimately, the skill and ability of the surgeon will afford patients the greatest measure of safety and the best possible outcome.
Sono Bello’s highly-skilled surgeons specialize in maximizing safety and providing the best possible results for patients, leading to thousands of satisfied patients who have left over 24,500 five-star reviews online about their experience and shared their stories for others who are considering a Sono Bello procedure for themselves.