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Liposuction risks & complications

Infections may happen after any surgical procedure and can sometimes occur after liposuction. Some surgeons prescribe an antibiotic to patients undergoing liposuction but other physicians do not and provide it intravenously during surgery instead. It is important to keep the wound(s) clean but even if you do, infections may sometimes occur from the surgery. Be sure to report any fevers or hot or reddened areas to your surgeon as these are some warning signs of infection.

Rippling or wavy skin can sometimes occur after liposuction before the skin retracts against its new contours. Wearing a compression garment is said to help the skin form more smoothly and massage is often recommended by surgeons to avoid this. Sometimes if too much fat is removed and the skin has poor elasticity rippling can be permanent.

It is possible to have one side of your body not look identical to the other (for instance, your thighs) after liposuction since it is not an exact science. Sometimes it is simply more swelling on one side of your body due to having more fat removed and it may resolve itself. However, a touch-up is sometimes needed to even out your contours. Be sure to ask your surgeon about his or her touch-up policies before you have your liposuction.

Nerve Compression and Changes in Sensation
This may either be in the form of an increased sensitivity in the suctioned areas or numbness. If these changes in sensation persist for a long period of time (weeks or months) you should inform your physician. In some cases, these changes in sensation may be permanent although it is rare. More common is to have scattered numbness immediately after surgery that eventually goes away on its own.

Swelling is extremely common after liposuction and may take more than 6 months to fully go away. This is where a compression garment is usually used – to control swelling as well as to shape your new contours.

Blood clots can form in the legs during immobilization and break free and travel to the lungs. Symptoms include shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. If you have any of these symptoms, it is important for you to seek medical care immediately. You can minimize the risk of blood clots by moving around as soon after the surgery as possible and wearing compression stockings usually provided by your surgeon.

After liposuction, there may be a pooling of fluid in areas where tissue has been removed. Often this is re-absorbed by your body but sometimes it has to be drained surgically. Be sure to keep an eye on unusual swelling.

Toxicity from Anesthesia
Lidocaine, a drug that numbs the skin, is frequently used as a local anesthetic during liposuction. Large volumes of liquid with lidocaine may be injected during local anesthetic liposuction. This may result in very high doses of lidocaine. The signs of this are lightheadedness, restlessness, drowsiness, tinnitis (a ringing in the ears), slurred speech, metallic taste in the mouth, numbness of the lips and tongue, shivering, muscle twitching and convulsions. In general, any type of anesthesia may cause complications and is always considered a risk during any surgery.


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