Complications of Liposuction

Deep venous thrombosis (blood clot in the legs) with possible pulmonary embolus (clot migrating to the lungs) and fat embolus represent possible risks of liposuction.

Deep venous thrombosis may be present with calf or leg pain, Homan’s sign, swelling or redness of the lower extremity, persistent tachycardia, and/or mild fever. Treatment of deep venous thrombosis may entail anticoagulation or placement of a venous filter.

Patients with pulmonary embolus may present with shortness of breath or chest pain. Treatment may include thrombectomy, thrombolysis, or anticoagulation. Although the exact pathophysiology of fat embolism syndrome remains somewhat controversial, signs or symptoms of fat emboli after liposuction require immediate care.

Pulmonary embolus or fat embolus may occur at a rate less than 0.1%.

Advances in the understanding of fluid management in the care of the patient undergoing liposuction has increased the margin of safety of this procedure. The key to appropriate perioperative fluid homeostasis is proper patient selection and consistent communication between the surgeon and the anesthesiologist. In addition, with current tumescent techniques of liposuction, blood loss has been reduced to 1% of the total lipoaspirate.

Internal organ damage from the liposuction cannulae has been reported as well.

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