Depending upon the patient's body mass index (BMI) the amount of 'safe' liposuction can be determined, according to a new study.
Researcher John Y.S. Kim of Northwestern University said that the study shows that liposuction is associated with a very low complication rate, with major complications occurring in less than 1 in 1,000 patients. Kim added that it also calls into question the concept of simple absolute thresholds for lipoaspirate volume, the amount of liposuction that can be performed safely seems to depend in part on how much fat content a person begins with.
There's a long history of debate over the safe volume of fat tissue that can be removed by liposuction. Current American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) guidelines define 5,000 milliliters (five liters) as "large-volume liposuction" potentially associated with a higher risk of complications.
But the guidelines acknowledge there is no scientific data to support an absolute cutoff point. Kim and colleagues found that the overall complication rate was 1.5%, with few serious complications and no deaths. By far, the most common complication was a fluid collection (seroma) requiring drainage.
The average liposuction volume was about two liters. Obese patients may tolerate larger lipoaspirate volumes without an increased risk of complications, the researchers wrote, adding that patients with lower BMIs experience a "more exponential increase in risk" at higher liposuction volumes.
This relationship between a patient's pre-existing fat content and "safe" liposuction volumes had not been previously shown. The study appears in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery