Plastic Surgery & Med Spa in Austin, TX

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Liposuction Risks

Risks of Liposuction

So you want to have liposuction performed but you are concerned about the risks.  Liposuction is a surgical procedure and has all the associated risks of surgery.  They include infections, bleeding, scars, anesthesia and injury to other structures.  However, having liposuction performed under tumescent anesthesia, markedly decreases these risks.  Liposuction risk is something that should be kept as small as possible.

General Anesthesia

The main risk of a typical cosmetic surgery procedure is the general anesthesia.  Deeply sedating the patient, stopping the breathing and inserting a breathing tube are high risk endeavours.  In fact, the risk of general anesthesia far exceeds the risk of liposuction itself!  Plus you are left with an extended liposuction recovery period that could take you days to overcome.  During this period of recovery, your risk of other postoperative complications like blood clots, skyrockets.  So by eliminating general anesthesia, your safety is improved as well as improving recovery and decreasing complications.

Tumescent Anesthesia

Tumescent anesthesia involves the instillation of a dilute solution of lidocaine and epinephrine into the fat layer.  The lidocaine provides the anesthesia and the epinephrine constricts blood vessels to reduce bleeding.  The fluid also lifts the fat and skin up and off the lower layers (muscle)  to provide a space to work.  The solution pushes nerves, blood vessels, etc. apart so there is space for the instruments to safely pass.  At the end of the procedure, the fluid is allowed to drain from the body.  The fluid itself kills bacteria and by draining, further helps to prevent infection.

tumescent anesthesia

Awake Liposuction lowers Liposuction Risks

Being awake during liposuction has even further advantages.  Since only the fat and skin are numb, everything deeper that should not be touched, has sensation.  If the instruments or surgeon were to get too close to any of these important structures (muscles, organs,etc.), you would immediately protect yourself and alert the surgeon.  As a result, being awake is much safer than general anesthesia.  Plus, while you are awake you can be moved in many different positions to improve results and even stand up!  At the end of the procedure, you get dressed and you are back on your feet immediately.  This further reduces postoperative complications

General Anesthesia vs Tumescent Anesthesia

So how does liposuction under general and local anesthesia compare?  Look at this review of the literature:

J Drugs Dermatol. 2011 Dec;10(12):1363-9.

Safety of tumescent and laser-assisted liposuction: review of the literature.

Tierney EPKouba DJHanke CW.


Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA 02111, USA.



Tumescent liposuction (TL) allows the removal of large volumes of fat with minimal blood loss or postoperative morbidity, excellent cosmesis, and a remarkable safety profile.


To review the literature on the safety of tumescent liposuction, liposuction under general anesthesia and laser-assisted liposuction.


Aggregate safety data on liposuction under tumescent anesthesia reveals over 100,000 body areas treated with liposuction. There were no serious complications of death, emboli, hypovolemic shock, perforation of thorax or peritoneum, thrombophlebitis, seizures, or toxic reactions to drugs. In contrast, in the plastic surgery literature, liposuction under general anesthesia was associated with complications of deep venous thrombosis or pulmonary embolus, abdominal or other organ perforation, infection, and bleeding. Most recently, survey data in the European literature analyzed data showed 72 cases of severe complications from liposuction, including 23 deaths in a 5-year period from 1998 to 2002. The most frequent complications were bacterial infections such as necrotizing fasciitis, gas gangrene, and different forms of sepsis. Further causes of lethal outcome were hemorrhages, perforation of abdominal viscera, and pulmonary embolism.


Tumescent local anesthesia utilizing lidocaine with epinephrine allows the removal of large volumes of fat with minimal associated blood loss and postoperative morbidity.

It is obvious that there is no need to have liposuction performed under general anesthesia.  Tumescent local anesthesia is much safer, less painful and has a better recovery.  Lawrence Broder MD of Beleza Medspa has performed more than 1000 cases of Smartlipo Laser lIposuction under tumescent anesthesia with a great safety record.  Find out more about Liposuction Austin here.