Liposuction

Overview of Procedure | Common Complications | Report an Incident


Overview

What is liposuction?

As defined by the American Academy of Plastic Surgeons, liposuction is a procedure for removing excess fat deposits and improving body contours and proportion. It can be performed on thighs, hips and buttocks, the abdomen and waists, the upper arms, the back, the inner knee, the chest, cheeks, chins, necks, calves, and even ankles. It is regarded to be a fast, safe and almost painless procedure.

Which countries are the most popular destinations for this procedure?

Poland, Thailand, Turkey, Mexico, and Spain.

What is the range of prices?

In the United States it’s $5,500 per procedure,

$3,000 in Mexico, Turkey and Vietnam,

$2,900 in Singapore and South Korea,

$2,800 in Costa Rica and India,

$2,500 in Colombia, Israel, Malaysia, and Thailand,

$2,000 in Mexico,

$1,600 in Spain,

$1,800 in Poland,

$1,400 in Jordan.


Complications

What are the common complications if the procedure is performed abroad?

As with any other surgery, liposuction carries the risk of bleeding, infection, bruising, pain, swelling, soreness, scarring, and, numbness in the event a nerve was accidentally damaged. These are all relatively rare. In addition, there is the possibility of a negative reaction to the type of anesthesia used.

There is a limit how much fat can be removed. If it is removed unevenly, bumpy, wavy or withered skin could result, as well as poor elasticity. If too much is removed, the result could be lumpiness or dents in the skin.

One of the most serious complications associated with liposuction are the risk of a blood clot developing in the lung, which can then travel to the brain and cause a stroke. The risk is known to increase with the level of obesity. Another serious complication is the perforation of a vital organ in the abdomen while the liposuction is taking place. If a local anesthetic has been administered, the patient will soon complain of pain and the damage can be repaired immediately. This cannot happen, of course, if a general anesthetic is administered, and the damage can lead to death.

Horror stories

An example of a botched liposuction

In 2014, a 31-year-old Australian man named Leigh Thomas Aiple flew to Malaysia to undergo a liposuction, together with a number of other cosmetic surgeries. He had been assured by the medical tourism travel agency that planned his trip that the procedure would be performed according to “internationally recognized standards.”

That was false.

Soon after a series of stitches burst open, leaving his wounds prone to infection. He died less than two weeks later after returning to Australia. A coroner later determined that the cause of death was a blood clot that blocked vital arteries in his lungs.

Aiple’s liposuction removed 1.6 liters. Liposuctions of that size are categorized as “large volume,” and there is overwhelming evidence that they involve significant risks, including pulmonary embolisms and death. That being the case, the clinic where he underwent the procedure in Malaysia should have kept him for observation until he had fully recovered. That would have allowed the appropriate dressings to be changed on a regular basis to avoid infection. Instead, the clinic released him to a local hotel, where he remained as an outpatient until he flew back home.

Botched liposuctions are now so common that there are surgeons who specialize in repairing the damage that was done.