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Compensation For Negligent Liposuction Surgery
Liposuction is a surgical procedure which permanently removes fat deposits from under the skin. A hollow steel tube (cannula) connected to a vacuum device is inserted into the desired part of the body, and the fat is sucked out through it. Liposuction targets areas of stubborn fat deposits which cannot be removed through more traditional methods such as dieting and exercise. The procedure is most regularly performed on areas of the body where fat accumulates, including the stomach, buttocks, things, calves, arms and chin. According to a 2010 report by the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS), liposuction has grown to become the most requested cosmetic surgery procedure worldwide. It now accounts for 18.8% of all such procedures. Despite the increased availability of alternative fat removal procedures, liposuction continues to grow by roughly 10% a year in the UK. Claims that liposuction is one of the safest types of surgical treatment are misleading. It is reported that 45,000 people have died in the US over the past 8 years as a result of liposuction operations, more than were killed in car accidents over the same period. No similar statistics are available in the UK, but the risks are widely acknowledged, and injuries and fatalities arising from liposuction are likely to rise dramatically over the next few years.
Typical Surgical Risks Of Liposuction
Some of the risks associated with liposuction operations are the same as those for any major invasive surgical procedure. These include negative or allergic reactions to the anaesthetic used, biological infections, damage to nerves, and the risk of blood clots forming. Any of these surgical complications may have extremely severe consequences, including the possibility of a stroke or cardiac arrest during the operation. In these circumstances patients may be left permanently paralysed or brain damaged. One of the major responsibilities of cosmetic clinics and surgeons therefore is to check for pre-existing medical conditions which will make these complications more likely. These include diabetes, heart problems and lung disease. For this reason it is essential that a medical questionnaire is completed prior to a liposuction operation taking place. All the possible risks involved should be explained to a patient before they consent to undergo surgery. A cosmetic clinic should also have all the necessary medical equipment on hand to deal with such emergencies when they occur.
Risks Of Excessive Liposuction
The most important surgical risk specific to liposuction operations relates to the amount of fat that is actually removed. It is generally considered that anything over 10-11 pounds of fat constitutes too large a volume. During a typical 'tumescent' liposuction operation fluids are injected into the body, while simultaneously fluids are removed along with the fat cells. If a surgeon miscalculates this fluid ratio severe complications may result, such as pulmonary edema, where small pieces of fat and fluid enter the lungs, potentially causing respiratory failure. Heart and kidney disfunction may also occur, known as a pulmonary embolism. The removal of an excessive amount of fat ('excessive liposuction') can also have cosmetic consequences. Patients may be left with loose, sagging or uneven skin, and may require further surgery to correct these results. There may also be changes to the skin's pigmentation. A competent, experienced cosmetic surgeon should be able to calculate the exact amount of fat that can be removed safely given an individual's particular characteristics.
Further Liposuction Surgery Risks
Liposuction operations can also prove disastrous if the surgeon or clinic miscalculates the toxicity of the anaesthetic which is used to numb the area to be operated on. With liposuction the anaesthetic used normally contains lidocaine, which may poison the blood and cause toxic shock in high dosages. Further potential problems relate to the use of ultra-sound and lasers in liposuction operations, which may burn and damage the skin if applied too closely or for fractionally too long. Liposuction operations on the stomach and abdomen can be particularly dangerous. In these scenarios a surgeon may misdirect the cannula, and puncture internal organs such as the intestines, bowel or abdominal wall. This can result in internal bleeding and hernias developing. In all cases of complications specific to liposuction operations, much depends on the skill and experience of the surgeon performing the operation, and the system that a clinic has in place for monitoring the patient's physical state before, during and after the operation.
Legal Rights Of Liposuction Patients
Despite the release forms which patients most often have to sign prior to a cosmetic surgical procedure, they still have legal rights which protect them from negligence on the part of the cosmetic clinic or surgeon. Patients can expect that their surgery will be performed with reasonable care and skill. They should be fully informed of all the potential risks surrounding the operation, and should have been subjected to an extensive medical consultation prior to the operation. The surgery should also achieve the results that the patient intends. Where mistakes have been made and injuries have resulted from liposuction surgery, patients are advised to seek specialist legal advice from a firm like us, who have many years of experience with all types of cosmetic surgery compensation claims.
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