Many people think that cosmetic surgery is somehow less "serious" than other types of surgery, but the truth is, any medical procedure carries risks. Sadly, a California woman recently died from a fatal medication error during liposuction.
According to a report by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, more than 200,000 people have liposuction surgery every year. Another 116,000 have tummy tucks. A study reported in Society's medical journal said that only about one in 50,000 patients die as a result of plastic surgery, but that same study found that liposuction and tummy tuck procedures are much more dangerous, with a significantly greater risk of death.
Three quarters of the patients who die from liposuction surgery die during procedures in a doctor's office setting rather than in a hospital. That was the case for the California woman, whose procedure had gone on all day and into the evening.
While blood clots are one cause of surgical deaths, the drug lidocaine has been cited in a number of patient deaths. Lidocaine can cause a patient's heart rate to slow and blood pressure to drop dangerously low.
The cause of death in this most recent liposuction case was determined to be "multidrug intoxication" - the patient overdosed on lidocaine, fentanyl and oxycodone.
The doctor who did the surgery, a gynecologist who is not a board-certified plastic surgeon, has been barred from performing cosmetic surgery pending a medical board hearing. He also cannot perform any procedure involving lidocaine or any narcotic analgesic.
A medical malpractice claim for wrongful death has been brought by the patient's family.