The organization said that more than 211,000 American men and women underwent liposuction in 2014, representing a 5 percent increase from the year before. The procedure now ranks number three among all plastic surgery options, after nose reshaping and breast augmentation, the ASPS said.
Most liposuction patients are women, the study found. However, Gutowski said that men now account for between 10 to 15 percent of patients, a figure that rises to as high as 20 percent if male breast-reduction surgeries are also included.
He said most patients are treated as outpatients and go home the same day as the procedure. And despite short-term soreness, patients are typically up and moving right away. Most people can resume their usual daily routine within a couple of weeks, he added.
As for risk, the study team described the current complication rate as “very low,” with serious problems occurring among fewer than one in every 1,000 patients.
For the study, the investigators tracked more than 4,500 liposuction patients. None of the patients died following fat extraction, and the total complication rate was less than 1.5 percent. Most of the complications weren’t considered serious, the researchers said.
However, the researchers found that the complication risk rose as the amount of fat removed increased. They noted that while fat extraction averaged about 4.5 pounds per patient, those who had over 11 pounds of fat removed had a higher-than-average complication rate of 3.7 percent.
The research team also found that the key factor in complication risk turned out to be BMI. Those with a higher BMI were better able to tolerate large-scale fat removal than those with a lower BMI, the study authors said.
Still, the researchers cautioned that while BMI could be a useful yardstick for pre-determining safe levels of fat removal, each patient’s individual risk factors must be considered.
Liposuction is not risk-free, however.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, potential complications include infections, clots of fat in the lungs, possible puncture of internal organs and even death.
Some studies estimate the risk of death as low as three deaths for every 100,000 procedures performed. Other studies have suggested the risk is between 20 and 100 deaths per 100,000 surgeries, the FDA said.