Patient Safety Tip on “Awake” Liposuction: Special Warning
A new method of cosmetic liposuction leaves patients wide awake with only local injections of lidocaine to control their pain in the area where the doctor is suctioning their body fat. It’s a bad idea all around – painful, dangerous and a potential tragedy in the making.
The “Awake” treatment is touted as a way for patients to experience their liposuction fully awake. But why would anyone want to? It’s not better for patients. What the “awake” treatment does is let cheap doctors avoid having to pay for an anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist to keep the patient safely sedated.
Lidocaine, the local anesthetic drug typically used in so-called “tumescent liposuction,” is not a mild drug. Too much injected into a patient’s system can get into the heart and numb the nerve fibers that transmit the electrical impulses that make the heart beat. This can cause the heart to stop or develop a rhythm disturbance. This happened to a client of our law firm with tragic brain damage as a result.
Patients always need to know who is giving the anesthesia for their case and what their qualifications are. Surgeons cannot safely do anesthesia plus surgery at the same time. So you should run, don’t walk, from a surgeon who says he is handling the anesthesia himself.
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