Fat embolism after liposuction and fat transfer

Fat embolism after liposuction and fat transfer

24th Mar 2017


When it comes to liposuction, most people are happy with the outcome of the procedure. But there are risks and potential complications involved in liposuction. If you are considering liposuction, make sure you know the limits, risks, and complications of the procedure.

One of the possible complications of fat transfer is fat embolism. During the fat transfer procedure, there is always the risk of fat entering your bloodstream through blood vessels split during the procedure. Particles of fat can get stuck in the blood vessels, blocking the flow of blood to the different parts of your body and organs. In extreme cases, they can penetrate the lungs and accumulate there, or make their way to the brain and cause damage. The condition of fat gathering in the lungs is called pulmonary embolism, and it causes difficulties in breathing. Fat embolism is extremely dangerous, and it can even cause permanent disability or death.

Fat embolism typically follows fractures of the long bones, but it has also been found to occur in liposuction and fat transfer. Studies suggest that the way particles of fat make their way into the blood is similar in both cases, beginning with the breaking of blood vessels accompanied by intense trauma.

The symptoms of fat embolism include:

Hypoxia (breathing problem)


Abnormally rapid heartbeat

Abnormal breathing pattern

Cognitive bewilderment

Fatigue and exhaustion


There are also some infrequent signs of fat embolism after liposuction, including the presence of fat in the urine and mucus. The symptoms of fat embolism can emerge at any time after liposuction, but in most cases they occur within 24 to 48 hours after the procedure.

If plastic surgeons select liposuction patients carefully and after a thorough examination, and if the surgeons themselves are experienced and skilled, the outcome can be impressive, and the risk of complications like fat embolism can be reduced. Other methods of minimizing fat embolism after liposuction include decreasing the procedure duration and the quantity of fat suctioned. Even though these actions are conventional, they can help cut the risk of potential fat embolism.

Liposuction can be effective if performed on healthy persons. However, you must be prepared to face and handle any situation, including fat embolism, after liposuction, because it may occur. If you feel that you are having any signs or symptoms of fat embolism after liposuction, make sure to see your doctor immediately. If possible, go for emergency medical care. Remember, a fat embolism can be life-threatening if not treated immediately.


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