Risky Remodeling

Cosmetic surgery can be a dangerous decision

 by Tara Brite
 published on Thursday, September 14, 2006

The benefits of cosmetic surgery are almost always obvious - beauty, confidence, boobs. But what many people don't know is that cosmetic surgery also has a darker side.
Deborah Sullivan, sociology professor and author of "Cosmetic Surgery: The Cutting Edge of Commercial Medicine in America," says students are often unaware of the dangers associated with receiving cosmetic surgery.
The dangers associated with some procedures, like liposuction, are even life-threatening.
Liposuction is a procedure performed to reduce excess fat in certain areas of the body, like the stomach, face and neck. The surgeon inserts a small, hollow tube into the specified area of the body and essentially vacuums the fat out.
Liposuction was the most common cosmetic surgery performed in the U.S. in 2005 according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons. But it has also been known to be the biggest killer.
"There's more deaths from liposuction than anything else," Sullivan says. "People tend to think lipo is no big deal."
In fact, a 2000 report published in the journal "Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery" states that in 1996, more people died from liposuction procedures than in car accidents.
That's 19 deaths for every 100,000 liposuctions performed.
Sullivan says this high death rate could be because surgeons are sucking out more than fat - they're taking out essential body fluids, too.
"There are real risks," Sullivan says. "This is not like having your hair done. People do die from these procedures."
Choosing a responsible, competent cosmetic surgeon is the best way to prevent injury, Sullivan says. Make sure your surgeon is board-certified and has adequate training, she says.
Also, since much cosmetic surgery occurs at independent centers, it's important to make sure the building has the necessary equipment "in case something goes wrong," she adds. "Because things go wrong in surgery."

Reach the reporter at tara.brite@asu.edu

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