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Risks

As with all types of surgery, cosmetic or otherwise, there are potential complications, some of which can be quite serious. Before deciding to go ahead with liposuction surgery, you should discuss the potential risks with your doctor for a thorough understanding. Possible surgical complications for liposuction include, but are not limited to, infection, pain and discomfort, numbness, skin death, drainage, asymmetry, lumpiness, hardening, disfigurement, fluid collection, bleeding, blood clots, scarring, hypopigmentation (light spots), perforation of organs, more surgery, blood clots of lungs or legs, or death.

When liposuction is done under local or twilight-sleep anesthesia, complications which may result from general anesthesia are rarely an issue. Heart and respiratory problems are unlikely. Generally speaking, blood transfusion is needed in fewer than 1 in 1,000 cases. Most studies of modern liposuction show an infection rate of less than one percent of cases. I won't claim that liposuction is risk-free, but it is very safe compared to most other surgeries (chapter 14, "What's the Worst That Can Happen?" for detailed information about risks.)

Results

When you take the garment off permanently, you will more than likely love what you see in the mirror. You'll still be slightly swollen, but any bruising should be gone. You'll probably have lost a clothing size or two, and may continue to lose weight for the next several weeks. Younger people with healthy, elastic skin will find that their skin shrinks back into shape quickly. Older people, people who've had a lot of fat removed, or people who have gained and lost a lot of weight, take a bit longer, and will get less smooth results. They may also notice that the skin which once covered a lot of fat may appear somewhat wrinkled. In time, it often shrinks into place on its own. The skin is a very plastic organ, especially in younger patients, and exercise always provides an enormous benefit (although you shouldn't do sit-ups or crunches for four to five months after abdominal liposuction).

You may find yourself buying more fashionable, sexier, form-revealing clothes, and wearing them proudly. You may also feel lighter, which improves your attitude and overall well-being. It's uncommon for the properly selected patients of an experienced surgeon to be disappointed with their results. Remember that results are relative to where you started.

There are now studies showing health benefits from liposuction for diabetics in some cases. The "glycosylated hemoglobin" in their blood went down, indicating a decline in average blood-sugar levels.

Lastly, there's a risk of getting less than optimal results. Some people will have lumps and unevenness even with the best of care. An unskilled or inexperienced surgeon may not do as good a job of "sculpting" the body, possibly leaving uneven areas or lumpiness where fat hasn't been removed properly. And repairing a bad liposuction job rarely produces as good a result as doing it properly the first time, so choosing a surgeon who's done many, many cases is the safest bet.

If you take good care of your new body by exercising and eating right, it can be maintained for many years. If you don't stay fit and if you gain weight, you won't be happy.


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