Liposuction is one of the most popular plastic surgery procedures. The American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery ASAPS reports liposuction as being in the top five category for both men and women, with more than 300-thousand procedures performed in 2012. Despite its popularity, especially for people within the ages of 35- 50, there ares times when the procedure can go terribly wrong in the hands of an inexperienced doctor.
This article highlights a case that I performed last week. A liposuction revision case which was originally performed by a doctor who was not trained in surgery nor in plastic surgery (and that also means, cosmetic surgery). It was a difficult case, and revisions are usually more complex. There was alot of scarring from her previous surgery and her blood pressure had to be stringently managed by the Anaesthetist. This patient is in her 50s and was quite anxious about going to a hospital (an accredited hospital with a full operating team present) to have her lipo revision done. She wasn’t concerned so much about the procedure – she was concerned that it was in a “real hospital” ergo, this must be serious! Anxiety is not uncommon, but what puzzled me here is this : how is that she was not scared to have her original surgery (which took 3 hours to perform) in an unqualified surgeon’s unaccredited office, and allowed him to administer sedation himself (!)? I then realised that perhaps there could be any number of reasons, especially considering the way that liposuction is marketed these days.
Make no mistake – all liposuction is surgery, whether it is laser assisted, ultrasound, suction or water assisted. It is not the “easy, non-surgical” option. Many doctor’s clinics have capitalised on the boom in cosmetic surgery and are now offering liposuction. Previously they treated your family for a cold with antibiotics, and today they will be doing your liposuction; your surgery. Liposuction is surgery. It is challenging for patients to know just who should be performing it.
In the right hands, liposuction can be as safe as any other surgical procedure. It still has its own risks and complications. The surgeon holding the cannula needs to have recognised surgical qualifications and experience. So how do you know? A good start is to look for the FRACS lettering after the surgeon’s name, especially FRACS (Plast). Those letters indicate that the surgeon has formal surgical qualifications and mean “Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons”. The RACS is the only college that is recognised by the government to train surgeons. The next step will be to choose the right plastic surgeon, a surgeon trained in cosmetic surgery among other procedures, who performs liposuction and whom you feel comfortable with and performs this surgery. All plastic surgeons who are members of the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) are committed to providing you with the safest surgical experience, including making sure that your procedure is done in accredited facilities with a full operating team on hand…just in case.
It’s ultimately your body and your decision as to whom you will trust to perform your procedure. Liposuction is not an emergency procedure. Give yourself time to do your homework, and good luck!
Disclaimer : Dr Milovic’s posts are not a substitute for obtaining medical advice.