One of the major critiques of plastic surgery research is that some believe that studies don’t evaluate a sufficient number of cases to produce statistically significant results. Now, a recent study listed in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery offers a review of over 30,000 patients and cases to evaluate the safety of plastic surgery. Researchers from Vanderbilt University, University of Alabama, and the University of Wisconsin analyzed 30,010 liposuction cases. The patients had undergone plastic surgery between 2008 and 2013. Risk factors were taken into account. For instance, patients who are overweight, those who smoke, or those who suffer from diabetes are more likely to suffer complications from surgery.

Liposuction

 

The researchers found that liposuction was safe. Fewer than 1% of patients experienced complications when they underwent liposuction alone. Patients who were overweight or obese were at greater risk of suffering from complications. Additionally, patients who elected to combine liposuction along with other procedures were at increased risk of complications. This makes statistical sense given that combination procedures may require more incisions or more time under the knife. Fortunately, the most common complication that patients suffered tended to be relatively minor. Infection is the leading complication for liposuction patients, with fewer than 1% experiencing this complication. Even when patients elected to combine liposuction with other procedures, the complication rate remained fairly low. About 3% of patients who had liposuction performed along with another procedure experienced complications.

Liposuction is performed more than any other plastic surgery procedure. Yet, patients need to remember that it is still a surgery, and as such, requires the care of a skilled and experienced surgeon to ensure success. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the best liposuction candidates are individuals who are within 30% of their target weight, are not overweight or obese, and have firm skin. Individuals who have conditions that could complicate the healing process may not be ideal candidates for liposuction. Smokers are also at increased risk of suffering from complications following a liposuction procedure.

Finally, patients should have realistic expectations about what liposuction can do for them. Patients should discuss their goals and needs with their plastic surgeon to determine whether liposuction is the best procedure given their needs, expectations, and goals.

Liposuction is an excellent choice for healthy individuals who have stubborn areas of fat that don’t respond to normal diet and exercise. Genetics determines how much fat a person can lose in these areas, and liposuction may be the only way to eliminate certain fat deposits. For patients with realistic goals about what the surgery can do for them, liposuction is a safe and excellent choice in eliminating small deposits of unwanted fat. However, liposuction is not meant to replace diet or exercise and is not a weight loss method.

Dr. Leonard Grossman, M.D. is a skilled plastic surgeon in NYC and very experienced in performing liposuction. Dr. Grossman takes the time to review each patient’s unique needs and help determine the best course of action to ensure the