“Liposuctions Deaths: Can the quest for beauty kill you?” by Sameer Gupta
by Medical Writer Sameer Gupta
Liposuction, or lipo as it is commonly called,is an invasive surgery performed on patients who wish to enhance or change the shape of any one or more parts of their bodiesfor aesthetic reasons.Liposuction is also performed to treat some medical conditions like lymphedema, gynecomastia and lipodytrophy.
In this procedure, fat is sucked out from the body with the help of thin blunt tubes which are inserted in the body through tiny cuts in the outer skin. In tumescent liposuction, local anesthesia is used to blunt the sensation in the operation area and a large amount of anesthetic containing lidocain is injected into the fatty tissues, before the fat is sucked out. Sometimes, fat is liquefied with the help of ultrasound before it is sucked.
The procedure is quite complex and invasive. It is very important to have a deep conversation with your family doctor as well as your surgeon about what risks that are involved, your motive for the operation, and your expectations after the operation.
There are many cases that have gone wrong and expected results did not materialize, some leading to fatalities because of the wrong decisions taken by the surgeons during the procedure or because of the unexpected reactions from the patient’s body. The possible complications include death among many other injurious and harmful results.
Fatalities during or after liposuction operations
- A surgeon in Los Angeles was arrested for manslaughter, as reported in Los Angeles Times on August 20, for giving toxic cocktail of drugs containinglidocain, and fentanyl oxycodone to a 61 years old woman, during a liposuction operation in the surgeon’s office. The woman died after midnight. The same surgeon had performed a lengthy liposuction on a 77 year old woman in May 2010, who survived but is suffering from ongoing health issues.
- According to report published in The New England Journal of Medicine, five deaths resulted from liposuction among 48,527 deaths referred to the medical examiner of New Yorkcity between 1993 to 1998. The authors, DrRamaRao, Dr Robert Hoffman and Dr Susan added that the deaths could be partly due to lidocain which is known to reduce heart rate, and its interaction with other medicines the patient may have been taking.
- As reported in Bangalore Mirror, A young boy of 17 died of lipo surgery in Yeshwanthpur, India in May 2013. The boy was bullied by his schoolmates about his gynecomastia condition (enlarged breasts in men). He was given an overdose of anesthesia which he could not bear and suffered a massive cardiac arrest, then died next day in an ICU facility in the city hospital.
- In June 2013, Maria Shortall died after going through lipo sculpting procedure at Alyne Medical Rejuvenation Institute in Florida
There are many such alarming cases in the UK, USA, and Canada, and the rest of the world.
Is it advisable to go for lipo in the quest for beauty?
At the end of the day, it’s your decision. But before you opt for the procedure, understand the possible risk factors. Here are the risks involved in lipo surgery published by FDA food and drug administration.
- Infection: Cuts and bruises form because the cannula is inserted under the skin to suck out fat. These cuts may get infected and may take long to heal, sometimes become fatal.
- Embolism happens when loosened fat enters blood vessels broken during lipo procedure, and gather in lungs or travel to the brain, resulting in shortness of breath or cause permanent disability, sometimes resulting in death.
- Visceral perforations happen when during the surgery, organs are punctured by the cannula, as the doctor is unable to see where the tube is reaching. Damaged organs then require further surgery to repair them, and may even lead to death.
- Seroma is the pooling of liquid from where fat has been removed. It is a swelling which is quite painful and looks ugly.
- Nerve compression leads to either numbness or increased pain the area from where fat was removed. Sometimes these changes in sensation are permanent.
- Swelling or edema persists for weeks making life difficult.
- Skin Necrosis or skin death occurs to the skin under which the far was removed. This skin dies and falls off, leading to infection.
- Burns happen to skin when ultrasound assisted lipo surgery is performed.
- Fluid imbalance occurs when fat which contains lot fluid is removed. Also a large amount of fluid is injected below the skin to suck the fat. When this happens after you are discharged, it becomes serious as this may lead to heart, lung and kidney problem.
- Toxicity from anesthesia occurs when an overdose of lidocain is given. There are many side effects of lidocain overdose including heart failure.
It is estimated that there are 10 to 20 deaths per 100000 lipo surgeries done on average.
Opt for this invasive procedure only after understanding of the risk factors. If you still want to go ahead with it, make sure that you find inexperienced and highly qualified surgeon who has the capability to perform the procedure safely.