I have read the unfortunate story about a young lady who died in Nigeria after a liposuction procedure. A lot of sentiments and biased comments have followed this story, some say she decided to have the procedure because she was being ‘body shamed’; others say she did it because she did not like her body. People have blamed the surgeon for her death as well. This is a sad story and I think people should show some empathy whilst engaging in discussions about it on social media.
According to NHS UK, Liposuction is a cosmetic procedure used to remove unwanted body fats. It involves sucking out small areas of fat that are hard to lose through exercise and a healthy diet. It’s carried out on areas of the body where deposits of fat tend to collect, such as the buttocks, hips, thighs and tummy. The aim is to alter body shape, and the results are generally long-lasting, providing you maintain a healthy weight.
I always advise people considering liposuction to weigh the risk benefit ratio, to enable them make an informed decision, there are other non-surgical methods of losing excess weight, although time consuming, the results are far better and longer lasting, with no risks at all.
According to Mayo Clinic, Liposuction is a surgical procedure that uses a suction technique to remove fat from specific areas of the body, such as the abdomen, hips, thighs, buttocks, arms or neck. Liposuction also shapes (contours) these areas. Other names for liposuction include lipoplasty and body contouring. Liposuction is carried out for cosmetic reasons
Liposuction isn’t typically considered an overall weight-loss method or a weight-loss alternative. If you’re overweight, you’re likely to lose more weight through diet and exercise or through bariatric procedures — such as gastric bypass surgery — than you would with liposuction.
What does it involve? (NHS Choices)
Liposuction is usually carried out under general anaesthetic, although an epidural anaesthetic may be used for liposuction on lower parts of the body.
The surgeon would mark on your body the area where fat is to be removed. He or she would then:
inject this area with a solution containing anaesthetic and medication, to reduce blood loss, bruising and swelling
break up the fat cells using high-frequency vibrations, a weak laser pulse or a high-pressure water jet
make a small incision (cut) and insert a suction tube attached to a vacuum machine (several cuts may need to be made if the area is large)
move the suction tube back and forth to loosen the fat and suck it out
drain any excess fluid and blood
stitch up and bandage the treated area
As with any major surgery, liposuction carries risks, such as bleeding and a reaction to anesthesia. Possible complications specific to liposuction include:
Contour irregularities. Your skin may appear bumpy, wavy or withered due to uneven fat removal, poor skin elasticity and unusual healing. These changes may be permanent. Damage beneath the skin from the thin tube (cannula) that’s used during liposuction may give the skin a permanent spotted appearance.
Fluid accumulation. Temporary pockets of fluid (seromas) can form under the skin. This fluid may need to be drained with a needle.
Numbness. You may feel temporary or permanent numbness in the affected area. Temporary nerve irritation also is possible.
Infection. Skin infections are rare but possible. A severe skin infection may be life-threatening.
Internal puncture. Rarely, a cannula that penetrates too deeply may puncture an internal organ. This may require emergency surgical repair.
Fat embolism. Pieces of loosened fat may break away and become trapped in a blood vessel and gather in the lungs or travel to the brain. A fat embolism is a medical emergency.
Kidney and heart problems. Shifts in fluid levels as fluids are being injected and suctioned out can cause potentially life-threatening kidney, heart and lung problems.
Lidocaine toxicity. Lidocaine is an anesthetic often administered with fluids injected during liposuction to help manage pain. Although generally safe, in rare circumstances, lidocaine toxicity can occur, causing serious heart and central nervous system problems.
The risk of complications increases if the surgeon is working on larger surfaces of your body or doing multiple procedures during the same operation. Talk to your surgeon about how these risks apply to you.