Cosmetic Liposuction: Preoperative Risk Factors, Major Complication Rates, and Safety of Combined Procedures

Aesthet Surg J. 2017 Jun 1;37(6):680-694. doi: 10.1093/asj/sjw243.


Background: Liposuction is among the most commonly performed aesthetic procedures, and is being performed increasingly as an adjunct to other procedures.

Objectives: To report the incidence and risk factors of significant complications after liposuction, and to determine whether adding liposuction to other cosmetic surgical procedures impacts the complication risk.

Methods: A prospective cohort of patients who underwent liposuction between 2008 and 2013 was identified from the CosmetAssure database. Primary outcome was occurrence of major complications requiring emergency room visit, hospital admission, or reoperation within 30 days of the operation. Univariate and multivariate analysis evaluated risk factors including age, gender, body mass index (BMI), smoking, diabetes, type of surgical facility, and combined procedures.

Results: Of the 31,010 liposuction procedures, only 11,490 (37.1%) were performed as a solitary procedure. Liposuction alone had a major complication rate of 0.7% with hematoma (0.15%), pulmonary complications (0.1%), infection (0.1%), and confirmed venous thromboembolism (VTE) (0.06%) being the most common. Independent predictors of major complications included combined procedures (Relative Risk (RR) 4.81), age (RR 1.01), BMI (RR 1.05), and procedures performed in hospitals (RR 1.36). When examining specifically other aesthetic procedures performed alone or with liposuction, combined procedures had a higher risk of confirmed VTE (RR 5.65), pulmonary complications (RR 2.72), and infection (RR 2.41), but paradoxically lower hematoma risk (RR 0.77) than solitary procedures.

Conclusions: Liposuction performed alone is a safe procedure with a low risk of major complications. Combined procedures, especially on obese or older individuals, can significantly increase complication rates. The impact of liposuction on the risk of hematoma in combined procedures needs further investigation.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Body Contouring / adverse effects*
  • Body Contouring / methods
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Databases, Factual
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lipectomy / adverse effects*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / complications
  • Odds Ratio
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology*
  • Postoperative Complications / therapy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United States
  • Young Adult