Side Effects and Potential Complications After Liposuction

Side Effects and Potential Complications After Liposuction

01st Jul 2017

Side Effects and Potential Complications After Liposuction


Getting rid of the unwanted adipose deposits that have lodged themselves in different areas of your body can be quite difficult. In some cases, regions surrounding the abdomen, flanks, sides and love handles contain enough fat to be considered flabby. Diet and exercise, by themselves, have proven to be ineffective in delivering impressive body sculpting results and this is where liposuction can come in handy. This cosmetic surgery intervention can offer the patient a perfectly contoured body figure while simultaneously eliminating fat from multiple areas in the body. Nowadays liposuction is regarded as a safe procedure because of its long history of successful and remarkable results. To revamp the patient’s appearance, the intervention is commonly performed in combination with other surgical procedures such as the tummy tuck or breast and buttock augmentation.

Despite the fact that liposuction is a harmless procedure and that the vast majority of patients are very pleased with the results, it comes with a few side effects and possible complications. Considering the level of risk and potential hazards, it is recommended that you talk to your surgeon about what the intervention entails and what is to be expected in terms of results.

Being aware of the complications as well as the limitations of the procedure will help you come to a decision that best fits your interests. The patients should make a choice only after considering the benefits of the intervention and the possible side effects. It is strongly suggested that you undergo liposuction only if you decide that the advantages outweigh the hazards involved. Also you should not put a lot of value on friends’ and family’s advice as liposuction is a personal undertaking. The patient should decide to undergo liposuction on her own and the decision should be based on the recommendations and expert advice of an experienced and skilled plastic surgeon.

Liposuction Side Effects

Aside from the potential risks and complications, the procedure involves a range of common side effects. Among these we have:


The procedure can cause swelling and soreness in and around the surgical area. It is true that some liposuction methods result in less inflammation, but most of them can cause considerable soreness. Inflammation is normal and is also a sign that your body is working to heal.

But when the swelling extends and fails to disappear after a few weeks, it is recommended that you seek your doctor’s counsel as it can be a sign of another complication. A certain level of swelling is normal and it will recede as your body heals over the course of four to six weeks after the intervention.


Another common side effect of liposuction is bruising. Bruising can occur when bleeding triggers blood accumulation under the skin at the surgical site. This can lead to changes in the color of the targeted area and also make it look lumpy. Usually, bruising disappears within the first month from liposuction, but selecting the appropriate liposuction method can certainly alleviate the side effect. If you experience bruising for more than one month, you should get in touch with your plastic surgeon as it might be a sign of a different complication. Before the intervention is performed, make sure to talk to your doctor about what can be done to reduce the bruising.

Pain and Discomfort

After the procedure, patients might experience some level of discomfort and pain, as well as redness and inflammation in the areas targeted by liposuction. Even if your surgeon will prescribe medications to manage the pain and discomfort, they might still be present for a while.

Keep in mind that under normal conditions, the discomfort and pain are mild and easy to control with over-the-counter medicines. Your professional life may be resumed within a week from the surgery as the discomfort should gradually disappear. Patients experiencing an increased level of pain and prolonged discomfort should contact their doctor as soon as possible.

Liposuction Complications

There is a host of potential complications associated with liposuction. These include infection, seroma, excessive bleeding, nerve compression, as well as embolism and fluid imbalance. But the most severe complications occur if the plastic surgeon extracts too much fat during one session which can lead to dimples, bumps and even sagging skin.

Here are a few more common complications:


After liposuction is performed, there is a potential risk for infection to attack the surgical site. Even if your plastic surgeon will prescribe antibiotics to avoid infection, some infections can be dangerous and difficult to prevent with antibiotics. This is why it is essential to maintain the cleanliness of the surgical site. The patient is required to wash the area with antibacterial soap three times a day.

Infections such as necrotizing fasciitis can be life threatening. When left untreated, infections can alter the results of liposuction and pave the way for the occurrence of other health problems. Dizziness, nausea and high fever are common signs of infection. If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your doctor immediately.


When liposuction is performed, it is possible for fat deposits to enter the bloodstream by accessing injured blood vessels. The small pieces of fat tend to get caught inside the blood vessels and they can travel all the way to the lungs or the brain after the intervention. When bits of adipose tissue get into your lungs, breathing problems are usually encountered as a result. This condition, known as fat embolism, is life threatening because it can cause permanent disability or even the death of the patient. It is vital to get in touch with your plastic surgeon should you notice any sign of embolism such as difficulty in breathing.

Damage to the Organs

During liposuction, there is also a risk of injury to your internal organs as they can be damaged or even ruptured during the procedure. For example, the doctor’s negligence or inability to see where the cannula is directed while performing liposuction can cause accidents such as the puncture of your internal organs or the intestines. Injury of the organs can prove fatal and it will require additional surgery to treat the problem.


Seroma is also a common complication that can occur after your liposuction intervention. The condition is defined by the accumulation of yellow colored fluid on the surgical site. During the surgery, the blood vessels can get injured or damaged causing the separation of serum from the red cells in your vessels leading to fluid accumulation under the skin. Large seromas can cause other complications so it is recommended to seek treatment immediately.

Change in Skin Sensation

After liposuction is performed, the patient might experience a temporary or permanent loss of sensation in the targeted areas. Pain and numbness in the targeted areas are frequent side effects that occur after liposuction. If you experience these side effects for longer than a few weeks or months, bring it up with your plastic surgeon.


Mild swelling is completely natural after liposuction but excessive swelling might trigger other complications. It is essential to monitor the swelling as its expansion over the surgical site is a clear sign of a complication. Swelling can be present for weeks and even months after liposuction. In some cases, the edema is a sign of other issues, such as obstruction in blood circulation or even an allergic reaction. Hence, if you feel that the swelling is abnormal, make sure to get in touch with the surgeon.

Skin necrosis

The skin on the surgical site can die after liposuction. This happens due to a few reasons, but when it occurs; your skin will first change color and then fall off. Keep in mind that when a significant portion of the skin dies there is an increased risk of bacteria to attack the area.

Fluid imbalance

Liposuction will eliminate fat cells from the areas targeted on your body. Your surgeon will have to introduce considerable amount of fluids into your body during the procedure to be able to counter the fluid imbalance that occurs as a result of adipose tissue removal. However, the gap between the fluid introduced and the one removed still exists, hence triggering the fluid imbalance. Even if your plastic surgeon will make sure to check for the symptoms of fluid imbalance before discharging you, you can still experience the complication after you get home. The excess fluid could enter the lungs and kidneys and cause further complications; therefore, it is paramount to inform your doctor immediately should you experience any symptoms.

Reaction to anesthesia

Before liposuction, an anesthetic will be used to help numb the skin and your body may react negatively to the substances introduced. The adverse reaction can occur while the procedure is performed and even well into the recovery phase. There is an increased risk of adverse reaction to anesthesia when the surgeon injects a higher volume of lidocaine during the procedure. Dizziness, anxiety and change in the speech pattern as well as numbness in the muscles are clear signs of adverse reaction to anesthesia. There are cases in which the careless administration of the anesthetic can cause severe and lethal complications. Hence, it is recommended to be very careful in choosing your plastic surgeon and medical facility.

Fatalities Associated with Liposuction

There were just a few liposuction fatalities reported all over the world. Recent studies show that the risk of death caused by the liposuction procedure is no more than 3 in 100,000 interventions.


As with plenty of other surgical interventions, liposuction is associated with a host of possible side effects and complications. Here are just a few of the side effects that can occur after liposuction: swelling, bruising, seroma and skin necrosis, pain and discomfort. To be able to minimize or avoid the side effects and prevent complications, always make sure to select a board-certified and highly experienced plastic surgeon to perform the surgery.


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