Lipoaspiration and Its Complications: A Safe Operation

Plast Reconstr Surg. 2003 Oct;112(5):1435-41; discussion 1442-3. doi: 10.1097/01.PRS.0000081469.07342.F2.


Although lipoaspiration has been considered a safe surgical procedure for the last 30 years, reports indicate that this procedure has a high index of complications. This study was performed to analyze experience with patients in a clinical practice for the past 8 years who underwent lipoaspiration, either alone or in combination with another surgical procedure, and to compare the results with previous reports in the literature. The patients were divided into four groups: lipoaspiration alone of less than 5 liters, lipoaspiration alone of more than 5 liters, lipoaspiration combined with abdominoplasty, and lipoaspiration combined with another surgical procedure. Complications were divided into minor or major, depending on previous reports, and statistical analysis was used to determine any significant difference among the four groups. From January of 1994 to December of 2001, 1047 patients underwent lipoaspiration, either alone or in combination with another surgical procedure. A 21.7 percent incidence of minor complications was noted, as well as a 0.38 percent incidence of major complications. Minor complications included palpable and visible irregularities, seromas, cutaneous hyperpigmentation, overcorrection, cutaneous slough, and local infection. Major complications included fat embolism syndrome, cutaneous necrosis, and extended infection. No statistical difference was noted among the groups studied. The incidence of complications was similar to that in clinical reports in the world literature, being of a low percentage rate when compared with the reports of other types of surgical procedures. On the basis of these results, lipoaspiration continues to be a safe surgical procedure, but to maximally avoid complications, one should be mindful of all the factors that could predispose to them.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Embolism, Fat / etiology
  • Female
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Hyperpigmentation / etiology
  • Lipectomy* / adverse effects
  • Lipectomy* / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies