IN THIS ARTICLE
The tumescent liposuction method, when performed as described, has not resulted in reported deaths, but the traditional liposuction method has a death rate of approximately one in 5000. Other complications may include pulmonary embolus (with the traditional method), allergy to one of the medications used, fluid collection after surgery called a seroma or a hematoma, a puncture of either the lung or the abdominal cavity, and an overdose of the medication used to numb the area (lidocaine). Less serious complications include worsening of cellulite in the area treated; dimpling or lumpiness in the area treated; infections; and reactions to the tape, bandages, or salves used in the recovery period.
If laser-assisted liposuction is performed, there is a slight risk of damage to the tissue, especially if the surgeon is unversed in the potential dangers of laser treatments. The laser can result in burns to the tissue, especially if it is introduced too closely to the skin. For this reason, it is imperative that the procedure be performed by an expert in lasers and liposuction. In general, the risks of the tumescent liposuction method are much less than the risks from the laser-assisted method. When performed by a skilled surgeon, however, the risks of the laser can be minimized.
Liposuction Results and Recovery
The recovery time varies from a few days with the tumescent liposuction method to two weeks with the traditional procedure. The patient should ask their surgeon to estimate the recovery period. Laser-assisted methods result in recovery in roughly the same time, depending on which method is used. Because many surgeons tend to use the tumescent method along with the laser, they claim that the laser method results in less recovery time, but this is actually a result of the use of the tumescent method, which has a shortened recovery time when compared with the traditional method.
Results can vary from minor to significant improvement. This type of improvement varies with the type of procedure performed, the skill of the surgeon, and the overall laxity of the area before the surgery. Most patients find this surgery to be very helpful, and most results are anticipated to be either good or excellent.
It is worthy to note that surgeon's skills vary greatly, and it is always best to check how many of these procedures your surgeon has performed, look at pictures of previous patients, and even ask for references from previous patients who might be willing to discuss their experience if necessary.
While many surgeons claim the laser method to be vastly superior, in this surgeon's experience it is somewhat better, but not significant enough to claim it to be a revolutionary method. In the cases of this surgeon, it tends to result in about 100 cc more fat being suctioned per area and a small amount more retraction, all of which tend to be appreciated by the patient.
When to Seek Medical Care for Liposuction Complications
If there is any potentially infected area (an area of spreading redness and/or pus drainage), around the incision area, it is important contact your surgeon. Additionally, if the patient feels faint (feeling tired is OK, fainting or swooning is not) after the procedure, call the surgeon. Other more severe problems are shortness of breath or severe pain after the procedure, extreme bleeding, or chest pain.
One point to note is that with the tumescent liposuction method, the patient may have swelling initially, and the fluid used to anesthetize the area will leak out over the next day or so after surgery, appearing bloody. This is entirely normal in this procedure, but very abnormal in the traditional (non-tumescent) type of liposuction. It is always best to check with the surgeon at the time of the procedure to see if there are any other reasons for which he or she should be contacted. Many surgeons will call the patient the night of the procedure to check how he or she is feeling.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/1/2016
Joel Schlessinger, MD
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