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Is liposuction dangerous when done overseas? Here’s a closer look at its hidden dangers

October 12, 2023
April 8, 2024

There are perils lurking on this path – poor quality care & some doctors may be inadequately trained (did you know there are weekend courses for liposuction?)!

is liposuction dangerous

Table of Contents

Today, beauty standards are shaped by the pixels of Instagram, TikTok trends, and an insatiable desire to look one’s best, which is why the allure of cosmetic enhancement has never been stronger.

For many, the path to aesthetic perfection leads them to venture beyond their home borders, chasing the promise of an idealised appearance through the lens of “lipo tourism”.

The appeal and perils of “lipo tourism”

Is liposuction dangerous when done overseas? Know the risks

The appeal of “lipo tourism” is undeniable. It dangles the enticing possibility of achieving the body contours of your dreams without breaking the bank.

For many, especially those hailing from regions with sky-high healthcare costs, the price discrepancy alone is tantalising enough to warrant consideration. Furthermore, the advent of social media has unleashed a relentless onslaught of beauty standards, leaving many feeling the relentless pressure to attain the “perfect'” body.

As a result, an increasing number of people are turning to “lipo tourism” to fulfil their aesthetic desires.

Countries in Southeast Asia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe have emerged as hotspots for “lipo tourism”, offering competitive prices and, in some cases, the promise of a vacation-like experience while undergoing cosmetic procedures. However, this pursuit is not without its pitfalls.

There are perils lurking on this path – the danger of travelling soon after a procedure, concerns about the quality of care, and the startling revelation that some practitioners may be inadequately trained for the procedures they perform (did you know there are weekend courses for liposuction?).

When being cheap results in expensive outcomes

Is liposuction dangerous when done overseas? Know the risks

At the heart of the beauty tourism phenomenon lies a compelling paradox. The primary reason is undoubtedly the prospect of cost savings – a chance to attain the look they desire without emptying their wallets.

Yet, this pursuit is not solely about transformation; it’s a dual-purpose voyage. After all, why confine oneself to the confines of a treatment room when your holiday destination beckons? The idea of exploring a new city or country following a cosmetic procedure adds a second layer of excitement to the adventure.

However, the absence of strict regulations and clinical standards is even more concerning. It’s a matter that goes unnoticed or is dismissed as inconsequential.

These inadequacies often require revisionary work and additional corrective treatments, leading to unexpected expenses and a less straightforward beauty journey than initially envisioned.

“Lipo tourism”: Cautionary tales

Is liposuction dangerous when done overseas? Know the risks

The growing trend of “lipo tourism” sees a substantial number of Americans seeking cost-effective cosmetic procedures abroad, particularly in the Dominican Republic. 

While this offers significant cost savings, it hides a darker reality. Tragic stories have emerged, with some women losing their lives during surgery or battling severe post-operative infections. 

Although no fatalities occurred in this specific study, several patients endured multiple surgeries and hospitalisations, fighting infections with numerous antibiotics. 

Only one patient managed to achieve full recovery, underscoring the serious risks associated with beauty tourism.

A separate case in Florida, which is a prominent hub for cosmetic procedures, grapples with a concerning surge in disciplinary cases related to liposuction. The Chairman of Florida's Medical Board has issued a stern warning in response.

Disturbing statistics reveal that out of five disciplinary cases brought before the board this year, three involved doctors without board certification in plastic surgery, and three had minimal training in liposuction procedures. 

Most notably, one case exposed an electrolysis practitioner posing as a licensed physician during surgeries, highlighting the pressing need for increased oversight and stricter regulations within the cosmetic surgery industry.

Is liposuction dangerous when done overseas? The common signs and symptoms of a botched liposuction job

Is liposuction dangerous when done overseas? Know the risks

The aftermath of a botched liposuction procedure can be a harrowing experience, with patients encountering many distressing signs and symptoms.

Dr Ivan Puah, the medical director of Amaris B. Clinic and Chairman of the Lipo Peer Review Committee Singapore, has observed a concerning uptick in failed results and botched procedures, particularly in liposuction and gynecomastia surgery, among individuals who sought cosmetic treatments overseas.

Accredited by the Ministry of Health (MOH) in Singapore for liposuction, Dr Puah points to medical tourism hotspots like Gangnam (South Korea), Johor Bahru (Malaysia), and Bangkok (Thailand) as popular destinations.

These patients often lament the absence of proper medical follow-up, communication breakdowns, inadequate preparation, and insufficient procedure counselling.

As a result, 2019 witnessed an alarming surge in botched cosmetic procedures, shedding light on the importance of thorough research and careful consideration when opting for cosmetic treatments abroad.

Some of the most common complications he has seen include:

  • Dents or concavities on treated areas resulting from excessively aggressive liposuction methods
  • Contour irregularities, including uneven lumps and bumps in the treated regions, can arise due to factors like inappropriate patient selection (i.e. patients who are not ideal for liposuction), and a lack of proficiency or expertise on the part of the medical practitioners.
  • Excessive scarring of tissues following liposuction can occur when the equipment is improperly employed or when poorly-trained doctors perform high-definition liposuction.
  • Severe post-surgery side effects, such as intense pain and discomfort.
  • Skin discolouration can appear as splotches or patches. 
  • Signs of a botched liposuction procedure often rear their unwanted head in specific body areas. These trouble zones frequently include the inner thighs, where mid-portion irregularities can manifest, and the outer thighs, typically below the trochanteric bulge.

The sensuous triangle at the junction of the lateral buttocks, the lateral thigh, and the posterior thigh is another common site where patients may encounter complications.

For those aiming to sculpt their abdomen, particularly individuals with loose skin, this area can also become a hotspot for post-liposuction issues, along with the upper arms and knees.

The causes of botched liposuction and exploring corrective liposuction

Is liposuction dangerous when done overseas? Know the risks

Botched liposuction procedures can be traced back to several root causes, each bearing its own challenges and complications.

Overly aggressive liposuction techniques

One common cause is overly aggressive liposuction techniques employed by the performing doctor. When the liposuction doctor goes too far in removing excess fat, it can lead to uneven contours, dents, or depressions on the treated areas, resulting in an aesthetically displeasing outcome.

Improper utilisation of equipment and surgical tools

Improper utilisation of equipment and surgical tools is another factor that can contribute to liposuction mishaps. Incompetent handling of these instruments can lead to surgical errors, causing trauma to the surrounding tissues and potentially leaving behind irregularities in the patient’s body.

Lack of attention to patient selection criteria

A lack of attention to patient selection criteria is also a crucial issue. Not everyone is a suitable candidate for liposuction, and complications can arise when a doctor disregards or overlooks these criteria.

The liposuction doctor lacks an artistic eye

Furthermore, when a liposuction doctor lacks an artistic eye for beauty and fails to pay close attention to body contours during the procedure, it can result in asymmetry or unsightly lumps and bumps.

The surgeon performs a slipshod job

Instances where the surgeon performs a slipshod job during the surgery, leaving fat deposits behind and falsely claiming them as “muscles” when questioned by the patient, is also a sign of a poorly done liposuction job.

It’s important to select a skilled and meticulous liposuction doctor to minimise the risk of complications in these delicate regions. A botched liposuction procedure can be avoided if you select the right doctor. 

The right doctor should instil confidence and provide a clear path toward achieving the desired corrective results while prioritising patient safety and well-being.

The challenges of corrective liposuction surgery

Is liposuction dangerous when done overseas? Know the risks

Corrective liposuction (lipo revision), like any surgical procedure, comes with its own advantages and disadvantages.

On the positive side, this procedure offers a ray of hope to individuals who have experienced botched liposuction, as it addresses irregularities such as asymmetry, dimpling, and scarring or removing left-over fat bulges.

It offers a second chance for patients to regain their body confidence after a traumatic experience.

What’s more, corrective liposuction can be complemented with other treatments like fat grafting and scar revision surgery, amplifying its potential for overall improved results. 

However, the procedure shares common surgical risks with regular liposuction, such as swelling, soreness, and bruising, which patients should be prepared for.

Additionally, not all cases of botched liposuction can be fully rectified through corrective procedures. During the consultation, the doctor will provide insights into what can and cannot be achieved, ensuring realistic expectations.

Perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of corrective liposuction revision is the waiting period. Before undergoing corrective liposuction, patients must allow their bodies at least six months to heal from the initial botched procedure.

Choosing the right doctor for corrective liposuction

When it comes to selecting the right doctor for corrective liposuction, Dr Ivan Puah has decades of experience, credentials and liposuction training. His proprietary surgical techniques, including the MDC-Sculpt®️ Lipo Technique, is designed for each individual’s unique body shape, fat distribution, muscular curvature and skin elasticity, allowing a comprehensive transformation that targets stubborn body fat while sculpting the body with finesse. 

Dr Puah’s commitment to patient satisfaction, combined with his years of experience and patented  techniques, positions him as the go-to liposuction doctor in Singapore for those looking to rectify past liposuction issues and achieve their desired body contours with artistry.

Visit Amaris B. Clinic for corrective liposuction

If you seek corrective liposuction, consider a visit to Amaris B. Clinic.

Reference

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