Liposuction is more dangerous than driving your car says new study!

Americans are more at risk getting liposuction than they are driving the car.  That's what a new study on the mortality rate of liposuction reports.  The study is included in January issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.  Drs. Frederick M.  Grazer and Rudolph H. de Jong of Penn State University School of Medicine and Thomas Jefferson Medical College said that the statistics obtained from their study of patient mortality during a four year period, only included those patients who had liposuction surgery from a board certified plastic surgeon.  Mortality rates are likely higher in patients having non-board certified surgeons doing the procedure.

The study found that approximately 1 in every 5000 liposuction surgeries dies.  This works out to 20 deaths in 100,000 surgeries and only 16 deaths in every 100,000 auto accidents.

Each year, about 200,000 Americans undergo liposuction. The procedure involves removing body fat  by using a narrow suction tube placed in surgical incisions made in parts of the body with fat deposits,   such as the abdomen and thighs. A solution containing a local anesthetic and often a drug that  constricts blood vessels is introduced into the areas to reduce pain and blood loss.

The researchers stated that

"The major cause of death among liposuction patients was pulmonary thromboembolism (a blood clot in the lungs), accounting for 23.1% of the fatalities." 

They further explained that a blood clot or fat embolism -- circulatory problems caused by a dislodged piece of fat -- "continues to haunt" post-liposuction problems.

The authors add that complications from the drugs used or the volume of fat removed may also  contribute to post-liposuction deaths.

  Grazer and de Jong note that the risk of dying after liposuction appeared to be highest the first night after the procedure. Many patients are discharged home soon after liposuction, with the result that they are not monitored for potentially serious complications. The researchers advise that patients who have had major liposuction be held for overnight medical supervision.

It should be noted that liposuction is one of the most popular surgeries in Hollywood, helping to keep the stars at the fashionable ultra thin size.  Several stars have already have bad reactions to lipo and one was recently reported as being in a coma for a week following liposuction.

Surgery is never without a price and physicians are becoming concerned that some elective surgeries like liposuction may carry a price which is more than most of us wish to pay.

SOURCE: Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery 2000;105:436-448.

Article by Sue Widemark

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