According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, liposuction is still the nation’s most popular form of aesthetic surgery. Physicians say that the procedure is safe. However, safety depends on the health of the patient, the amount of fat being suctioned out, and the circumstances under which the procedure  is performed.

Rod J. Rohrich, MD, past president of the plastic surgeons’ group and chair of plastic surgery at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, says that adequate monitoring of a patient after surgery is extremely important, especially if more than 10 pounds of tissue is removed.
“If a doctor removes more than this, serious ‘fluid shifts’ can occur, triggering drops in blood pressure and stresses on the heart,” says Rohrich.

“The liquid part of blood seeps into the hole created by suctioning out fat, potentially depriving organs of the plasma they need,” adds James W. May Jr, MD, chair of plastic surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital. “There are more fluid shifts with liposuction than, say, with an appendectomy.”

Physicians should warn their patients that liposuction is not a treatment for obesity because surgeons can’t safely remove enough fat. They should also stress that the procedure, which is not covered by insurance and can cost thousands of dollars, should be done only by a surgeon trained in the technique who works in a facility with adequate post-operative monitoring.

[www.boston.com, November 13, 2006]