Safety of tumescent and laser-assisted liposuction: review of the literature

J Drugs Dermatol. 2011 Dec;10(12):1363-9.


Background: Tumescent liposuction (TL) allows the removal of large volumes of fat with minimal blood loss or postoperative morbidity, excellent cosmesis, and a remarkable safety profile.

Objective: To review the literature on the safety of tumescent liposuction, liposuction under general anesthesia and laser-assisted liposuction.

Results: Aggregate safety data on liposuction under tumescent anesthesia reveals over 100,000 body areas treated with liposuction. There were no serious complications of death, emboli, hypovolemic shock, perforation of thorax or peritoneum, thrombophlebitis, seizures, or toxic reactions to drugs. In contrast, in the plastic surgery literature, liposuction under general anesthesia was associated with complications of deep venous thrombosis or pulmonary embolus, abdominal or other organ perforation, infection, and bleeding. Most recently, survey data in the European literature analyzed data showed 72 cases of severe complications from liposuction, including 23 deaths in a 5-year period from 1998 to 2002. The most frequent complications were bacterial infections such as necrotizing fasciitis, gas gangrene, and different forms of sepsis. Further causes of lethal outcome were hemorrhages, perforation of abdominal viscera, and pulmonary embolism.

Conclusion: Tumescent local anesthesia utilizing lidocaine with epinephrine allows the removal of large volumes of fat with minimal associated blood loss and postoperative morbidity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anesthesia, General / adverse effects
  • Anesthesia, Local / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Laser Therapy / adverse effects*
  • Lipectomy / adverse effects*
  • Lipectomy / methods