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Is liposuction really as safe as people think it is?

A new study reveals that the number of doctor and hospital errors centering on liposuction procedures may be at the same rate as 25 years ago, leading to speculation that the procedures are unsafe. Researchers believe that oversimplification for the public as well as plastic surgeons with an eye toward making a profit contribute to the unsafe situation.

The researchers who co-authored the study state that much could be done to save patient lives that is not currently being implemented. For example, the researchers found that toxicity from anesthesia, infection and blood lidocaine levels have all contributed to patient death. Doctors sometimes cut corners by using unlicensed anesthesia personnel as well.

None of the deaths reported in the study occurred under inpatient surgical conditions. In many cases, these procedures were performed on an outpatient basis. Monitoring devices were missing in several of the cases, and in several cases the patients died at home, presumably from lack of follow-up care. Patients should always consider the qualifications of a doctor performing liposuction as state standards and regulations are widely divergent and often unenforced. Many patients are duped by doctors claiming to be experts who actually have little to no experience with plastic surgery in general or liposuction specifically. Those undergoing surgery should also ask about the qualification of those assisting the doctor in his or her work.

Patients who have suffered injury from medical errors, such as botched liposuction procedures that lead to health concerns, can talk to an attorney about their cases. A medical malpractice lawyer can assist these patients in understanding their rights and how they may be able to collect damages for their injuries.

Source: Anesthesiology News, "As Liposuction Deaths Mount, Study Exposes Cracks in Safety," Michael Vlessides, Oct. 2012

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