Liposuction procedure removes the excess fat underneath the skin with the use of suction. Nonetheless, it is not a weight loss surgery since it is too risky to remove the deeper visceral fat, which only responds to “real” weight loss—regular exercise and healthy diet.
According to a recent report published by the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery journal, the safe amount of fat to remove during liposuction is determined by the patient’s body mass index or BMI.
While the perceived safe volume during liposuction surgery is up for debate, with current guidelines suggesting that no more than 5 liters of fat should be removed per treatment, the study has shown that people with higher BMIs who had a greater liposuction volume experienced a lower complication rate.
Patients with lower BMIs who had a greater liposuction volume, meanwhile, experienced an increased risk of complication arising from seromas or collections of fluids beneath the skin.
Nevertheless, patients who had large-volume liposuction—or removing more than 5 liters of fat in one surgical setting—had the highest complication rate: 3.7 vs. 1.1 percent.
The study analyzed data of around 4,500 patients who had liposuction in which the overall complication rate was 1.5 percent, with no death reported. Meanwhile, the average amount of removed fat was approximately 2 liters.
Aside from the amount of removed fat relative to the patient’s BMI, liposuction risks are also tied to concomitant procedures (breast augmentation, tummy tuck, body lift, etc.), length of surgery, and overall health of the patients, as suggested by the researchers.
Celebrity LA plastic surgeon Dr. Tarick Smaili, who is not part of the study, also suggests that liposuction risks are also higher among smokers because the nicotine found in tobacco products constricts the blood vessels, thus retarding wound healing and leading to poor oxygen circulation.
Other risk factors include hypertension and medical conditions that can affect healing, use of blood-thinners, malnourishment/undernourishment, and excessive surgical trauma due to unrelated procedures performed at the same time as liposuction, he further explains.