Liposuction and Pulmonary Embolism: Increased Risk?

The case of the Argentinean beauty queen who passed away after cosmetic surgery has garnered international attention. A vibrant life cut short is always a tragedy. If you haven’t read about it, here are the details: Solange Magnano went in for a gluteoplasty (buttock enhancement) and died from a pulmonary embolism.

Besides the sympathy and sadness many people feel, there are also probably a lot of people considering cosmetic surgery who wonder, “Could that be me?” In particular, if you are considering liposuction, you may have heard that pulmonary embolism is one risk following surgery. I’d like to explain a little more about this news tragedy especially for my liposuction patients in Lexington and Louisville.

Although the risk of death after liposuction is low, pulmonary embolism is the leading cause of death following this procedure. The way it works is this: alteration in blood flow causes deep vein thrombosis (blood clots in the deep veins of the legs). In the case of the pulmonary embolism, a clot travels to the main artery of the lung, where it blocks flow of blood to the lung, which can stop respiration and lead to death. Studies have suggested that liposuction may be among the cosmetic procedures most likely to lead to pulmonary embolism.

While it’s important to know and understand the risks of liposuction, keep in mind that U.S. surgeons are trained to take steps to minimize the formation of blood clots following surgery, including:

  • Administration of anticoagulants such as heparin
  • Compression
  • Physical activity soon after surgery

An experienced, board-certified plastic surgeon will take every precaution to minimize complications associated with liposuction and will thoroughly discuss the risks with you. When performed correctly and with proper follow-up care, your liposuction procedure can be very safe and produce beautiful results.

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