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Deaths from liposuction-Study says surgical risks include infection, anesthesia


Posted on Oct 04, 2012

A paper written in 1985 by Klein and Lillis was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery. The paper discussed high-volume tumescent anesthesia in the United States, which through its publication, became popular among the community. By using high-volume tumescent anesthesia, the paper suggests that deaths due to liposuction will decrease. A report conducted by forensic pathologists, Dr. Calmes and Dr. Augustine, suggest otherwise.

Dr. Calmes and Dr. Augustine analyzed liposuction death records and observed the various procedures used by anesthesiologists during liposuction. “They also analyzed autopsy and toxicology findings from the cases.”

Among the hazards posed by liposuction, Drs. Calmes and Augustine name a few in their report. Fat emboli are a hazard. There, a network of fibrous tissue holding fat cells, are traumatized, and if open blood vessels pick up fat cells, they are carried to the heart and lungs.

Toxic amounts of a local anesthetic are a hazard. A high amount of local anesthetic was found among the patients they observed. Drs. Calmes and Augustine also found that infections are a hazard. For instance, three women developed serious streptococcus infections during liposuction. One woman died from the infection. As a result, officials shut down the clinic.

Karen B. Domino, a professor of anesthesiology at the University of Washington, analyzed a database by looking for malpractice claims against anesthesiologists during liposuction procedures. “Of the 9,546 claims in the database, 18 were associated with liposuction as the primary procedure.” Eight patients died from liposuction and one had permanent brain damage. Of the 18 medical malpractice claims, 12 received some form of compensation with a median award exceeding $400,000.

Another study was conducted in Los Angeles. There, researchers identified 9 deaths from liposuction. Although there were no reports for 2 patients, the 7 deaths occurred after a liposuction procedure was conducted outside of a hospital. The article discusses that there are a lot of factors involved in liposuction death, but researchers are concerned about the level of care exhibited by surgeons, anesthesiologists, and the like.

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Gerry Oginski
NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer