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Liposuction: Risks and Benefits

Liposuction surgery is the most common cosmetic surgery in the United States. More than a quarter of a million liposuction was performed last year. It can be an effective way to lose excess body fat in healthy people, but cosmetic surgeons are careful that liposuction should not be used as an alternative to diet and exercise.

Surgery consists of removing fat pockets beneath the surface of the skin by inserting a hollow steel tube, called a cannula, into the affected area. The fat is then removed from the body by attaching a strong vacuum to the cannula, which allows the cosmetic surgeon to work with the local area. Weight loss IV, local anesthetics, or general anesthetics may be used in patients during surgery. Both patients and doctors should carefully consider the risks and benefits that come with either of these methods.

Choices, choices and decisions can vary in this area. Doctors need to make sure those who are overweight understand that liposuction is not "magic". Liposuction is usually very effective in shaping the body in areas such as fat, hips, stomach, chin, cheeks, neck and arms. According to the American Association of Plastic Surgeons (AAPS), liposuction is most effective at, "Normal-weight people with strong, elastic skin who have more fat in certain areas." Overweight people may not get the results they want. A reputable cosmetic surgeon will discuss all options and describe potential risks.

Effectiveness, cost, and risk are important factors that patients need to consider; this is collectively referred to as the "surgical judgment" by AAPS. Surgical judgment was developed through years of training and experience; Patients should consider the training and experience of a particular doctor when choosing a surgeon. Membership on the American Board of Plastic Surgeons, degrees from accredited medical schools, and at least five additional years of residence are examples of good surgical evaluation guidelines,

Liposuction surgery can be done in a variety of settings. Some are done in hospitals, in surgeons' offices, and others in outpatients. Due to cost and convenience, many smaller liposuction surgeries are performed on outpatients. In the case of larger liposuction surgery and surgery involving other procedures, surgery will be performed in the hospital, and may require one or more days of hospitalization for observation and recovery.

As with any type of surgical procedure, there are risks involved. Although liposuction is considered one of the safest cosmetic surgeries, patients should be aware of the dangers. Some risk factors include scars, adverse reactions or excessive lidocaine used in procedures, shock, infection, nerve damage, hemorrhage and blood clots, and asymmetry (unbalanced fat removal). Those with a history of heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, allergies and smoking should discuss their medical history carefully with a cosmetic surgeon to determine their risk of complications with this surgery.


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