Health Watch -- Liposuction Proves to be Safe

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.



How safe is the most popular form of plastic surgery?

Liposuction is the most common kind of plastic surgery in the United States. About 400,000 Americans, most of them women between ages 19 and 50, have this procedure done every year. In the procedure, fat tissue is removed from under the skin. Doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas reported recently that this procedure is safe for healthy patients under proper conditions.

This study was the first to test not only the effect of the surgery itself on the body, but also the effect of drugs given to patients during surgery and how those drugs break down in a patient's body.

Dr. Jeffrey M. Kenkel, UT Southwestern's vice chairman of plastic surgery, says that liposuction, like any surgery, puts stresses on the body. But if the procedure is done by a qualified plastic surgeon in an accredited medical facility, and if the patient is healthy, the operation is safe.

Liposuction isn't a good idea for patients with cardiovascular disease or high blood pressure. The surgery and the drugs given during surgery to control pain may cause the heart to work harder, which could be dangerous for patients who already have heart problems.

The study also offered new benchmarks on safe levels of pain medications to use during surgery, based on all the measurements taken of effects on various systems in the body.

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Sept. 2004

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