A New York plastic surgeon has reached a settlement with the surviving spouse and children of a 32-year-old woman who had undergone a liposuction procedure in the Manhattan plastic surgeon’s office that allegedly resulted in her death. Two days after the June 25, 2009 liposuction procedure, the woman died of a pulmonary embolism caused when a blood clot traveled to her lungs.
According to the medical malpractice/wrongful death lawsuit, the woman was experiencing chest pain and shortness of breath after she was sent home following her liposuction procedure. Despite numerous telephone calls to the surgeon’s office, the surgeon did not return the calls, according to the lawsuit. The plaintiff’s experts alleged that the liposuction procedure would have been safer if it had been performed in a hospital instead of in the plastic surgeon’s office that had a dedicated room for performing surgeries.
Liposuction involves the removal of body fat from under the skin with the use of vacuum suction (either with a hollow pen-like instrument called a “canula” or an ultrasonic probe that breaks fat up into small pieces and then removes it). Liposuction may be performed on the abdomen, hips, thighs, calves, arms, buttocks, back, neck, or face, but it is not cleared for use on the neck or face. Liposuction is intended only for body contouring and is not intended as a means of weight loss.
Liposuction procedures may be performed in a doctor’s office, a surgical center, or in a hospital. The FDA regulates the sale of medical devices and drugs used in liposuction but does not regulate a doctor’s medical practice or regulate what a doctor tells patients or the information that a doctor must provide to patients.
Liposuction is the most popular form of cosmetic surgery in the United States – 403,683 liposuction procedures were performed in the United States in 2006, which was a 128% increase over the number performed in 1997. Liposuction is popular with both women and men in the United States: in 2006, liposuction was the most common cosmetic surgery performed on men and was the second most common cosmetic surgery performed on women (350,420 liposuction procedures) (breast augmentation surgery was ranked first).
The risks associated with liposuction include infections, embolisms (caused when loosened fat enters the blood through blood vessels ruptured during liposuction), puncture wounds of organs, seroma (a pooling of blood serum in areas where tissue has been removed), paresthesias at the site of the liposuction, swelling, skin necrosis above the liposuction site, burns during ultrasound-assisted liposuction (if the ultrasound probe becomes hot), fluid imbalance, toxicity from anesthesia, scars at the site of the incision, and bumpy or wavy appearances at the liposuction site after the procedure.
If you or a loved one suffered serious injuries or complications as a result of liposuction, you should promptly seek the advice of a local medical malpractice attorney in your U.S. state who may investigate your liposuction malpractice claim for you and represent you in a liposuction malpractice case, if appropriate.
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