Not too long ago, we wrote an article about the superstar role of liposuction in our York cosmetic surgery practice. We noted that although we often perform liposuction as a standalone procedure, more often we use the cannula in a supporting (or even leading) role in male breast reduction, abdominoplasty and other surgeries. These days, it’s hard to imagine operating without it!
Other plastic surgeons are finding the same thing: liposuction is a very useful “adjunct to other procedures.” A recent article in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal, a peer-reviewed publication of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, discusses this very trend and provides an update on liposuction safety.
Here’s a look at what the article has to say.
Liposuction on its Own
A group of plastic surgeons from Vanderbilt University and the University of Alabama studied more than 31,000 liposuction cases from 2008 – 2013. It may surprise you to learn that just over 37% were liposuction-only procedures, while the majority were procedures that combined liposuction with another cosmetic surgery (or surgeries).
The team found that liposuction has a very low complication rate on its own, in fact, less than 1% of the liposuction-only patients had an issue following surgery. The most common complication was found to be hematoma, which is usually fairly straightforward to handle. Other complications included breathing issues, surgical site infections and blood clots (though the incidence of these were very low indeed). This confirms what we already know: in the hands of a reputable, experienced surgeon, treatment is very safe.
Liposuction in Combination
In the patient base of 31,000 plus, more than 60% had liposuction along with another procedure. The most popular combinations included liposuction with abdominoplasty (tummy tuck), liposuction with breast surgery or liposuction with breast and body surgery. Many of these combination procedures fall under the loose category of “mommy makeovers.”
Patients who underwent combined procedures experienced a higher rate of complications, 3.5% compared with less than 1% for the liposuction-only group. Those who had the highest rate of complications (10.4%) were patients who chose liposuction in combination with abdominoplasty and body surgery. This is not too surprising. For one thing, more than one procedure requires more time under anesthesia, generally increasing risk. In addition, abdominoplasty is a slightly higher risk surgery than most as it penetrates the body cavity to access more tissues and deliver more improvement.
What You Can Do
Whether you’re seeking liposuction alone or with another form of cosmetic surgery, there are moves you can make to decrease your risk. The Vanderbilt/University of Alabama researchers identified one factor you can impact: your weight. The doctors found that morbidly obese patients had an overall complication rate of 6.3% compared with 1.8% of normal weight patients.
Other factors you can’t control that may elevate your risk include your age and gender (females had a slightly higher risk level than males in this study). We like to see our New York liposuction patients at or near their ideal weight, in overall good physical and mental health, and smoke free (or ready to quit for a period of time, at least).
What to Ask Your Cosmetic Surgeon
When you interview cosmetic surgeons about liposuction, in New York or anywhere else for that matter, there are some fundamentals to find out that can make a big safety difference. You might want to take this list of questions with you:
Are you certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery?
–A “yes” ensures your doctor has met the highest standards of education and training.
Is the hospital you use or surgical suite accredited by the Joint Commission or another well-known organization?
–You want to know you’ll be treated in a clean, up-to-date environment with lifesaving equipment on hand.
Will I be under general anesthesia, and how long?
–We use twilight sedation for liposuction in New York, not general anesthesia, and we won’t operate for longer than about four hours.
What measures do you use to minimize risks of infection, breathing issues and blood clots?
–Your cosmetic surgeon should have answers to set your mind at ease about these potential risks.
There are many other steps you can take to ensure your safety—this list is just for starters. We have more tips for you here. One last thing, we give our New York liposuction patients detailed information about what they should do before and after surgery, your cosmetic surgeon should also. Review it and ask questions if you have any.
If you’d like to work with us, we would be delighted! Our thirty years of liposuction experience will help you feel confident about your procedure—both the safety aspect and the results. Call us at 212-570-6080 today.