Lipoplasty: 10 Tips for Safety and Effectiveness

New York, NY (November 20, 2000) — For most of its 18-year history in the U.S., lipoplasty (liposuction) has been an extremely safe cosmetic surgical procedure. However, as new techniques were introduced in the '90s -- and physicians found they could remove greater and greater amounts of fat -- the incidence of complications suddenly rose. Today, thanks to new physician guidelines and a major educational campaign by plastic surgery organizations including the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), patients can again feel confident about the safety of lipoplasty performed by board-certified plastic surgeons. In fact, a leading malpractice insurer of plastic surgeons reports that there have been no significant claims associated with lipoplasty for its 1000 insured plastic surgeons since October 1998 - reflecting the success of recent research and educational efforts to identify and avoid risk factors.

ASAPS, the largest organization of board-certified plastic surgeons who specialize in cosmetic surgery, recommends the following Ten Tips for Safety and Effectiveness of lipoplasty procedures:

Understand the procedure’s limitations. Lipoplasty is not a cure for obesity. It can, however, effectively eliminate localized fat deposits that are resistant to diet and exercise. To be a good candidate for lipoplasty, you should be within 30% of your ideal body weight and have adequate skin elasticity.

Don’t try to do too much at once. Multiple procedures performed at the same time increase the risks of surgery. Your board-certified plastic surgeon will advise you about what can be safely accomplished in one surgical session.

Provide an accurate medical history. You should be in good general health. Be sure to discuss with your surgeon any past or present medical conditions, as well asmedications that you are taking including dietary or herbal supplements.

Discuss the procedure thoroughly. You and your surgeon will make choices about anesthesia (local or general) and technique. A qualified, board-certified plastic surgeon will discuss with you all aspects of the procedure so you’ll know what to expect.

Understand the risks. The current data on lipoplasty safety establishes that serious complications are extremely rare when the procedure is performed by board-certified plastic surgeons in accordance with accepted standards of practice. However, every type of surgery carries some risk. If your surgeon is reluctant to discuss possible complications with you, find another surgeon.

Plan adequate aftercare. Lipoplasty is often performed as an outpatient procedure, and you can return home the same day. However, it is important that you have someone to help you for the first day or two following surgery. If more than five liters (5000 cc’s) of fat and fluid are removed, your surgeon may recommend an overnight hospital stay.

Plan adequate recovery time. Don’t schedule lipoplasty right before an important event in your life or at a time when you might feel pressured to resume normal activities too soon.

Check your doctor’s credentials. Lipoplasty is a surgical procedure and should be performed by a doctor with surgical training and credentials. Remember, any doctor (even one from a nonsurgical specialty) can legally perform lipoplasty. Certification by the American Board of Plastic Surgery ensures at least five years of surgical training, including two years of training specifically in plastic surgery.

Check your doctor’s hospital privileges. Lipoplasty often is performed outside the hospital in an office-based surgical facility. Many board-certified plastic surgeons operate in office-based surgical suites, even though they have privileges to do the procedure in a hospital. However, sometimes doctors operate outside the hospital because they do not have the necessary credentials to obtain privileges to perform lipoplasty in an accredited hospital. Get verification of your doctor’s hospital privileges in writing.

Check for facility accreditation. Office-based plastic surgery has a safety record comparable to hospital-based ambulatory surgery -- when the physician is board-certified in a surgical specialty and the facility has met the stringent safety standards for accreditation. Ask for proof of the surgical facility’s accreditation status.

About ASAPS
The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), is recognized as the world’s leading organization devoted entirely to aesthetic plastic surgery and cosmetic medicine of the face and body.  ASAPS is comprised of over 2,600 Plastic Surgeons; active members are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (USA) or by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and have extensive training in the complete spectrum of surgical and non-surgical aesthetic procedures. International active members are certified by equivalent boards of their respective countries. All members worldwide adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and must meet stringent membership requirements.

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