Background: Superficial liposuction has found its application in maximizing and creating a lifting effect to achieve a better aesthetic result. Due to initial high complication rates, these procedures were generally accepted as risky. In a response to the increasing concerns over the safety and efficacy of superficial liposuction, the authors describe their 14-year experience of performing superficial liposuction and analysis of postoperative complications associated with these procedures.
Methods: From March of 1995 to December of 2008, the authors performed superficial liposuction on 2398 patients. Three subgroups were incorporated according to liposuction methods as follows: power-assisted liposuction alone (subgroup 1), power-assisted liposuction combined with ultrasound energy (subgroup 2), and power-assisted liposuction combined with external ultrasound and postoperative Endermologie (subgroup 3). Statistical analyses for complications were performed among subgroups.
Results: The mean age was 42.8 years, mean body mass index was 27.9 kg/m2, and mean volume of total aspiration was 5045 cc. Overall complication rate was 8.6 percent (206 patients). Four cases of skin necroses and two cases of infections were included. The most common complication was postoperative contour irregularity. Power-assisted liposuction combined with external ultrasound with or without postoperative Endermologie was seen to decrease the overall complication rate, contour irregularity, and skin necrosis. There were no statistical differences regarding other complications.
Conclusion: Superficial liposuction has potential risks for higher complications compared with conventional suction techniques, especially postoperative contour irregularity, which can be minimized with proper selection of candidates for the procedure, avoiding overzealous suctioning of superficial layer, and using a combination of ultrasound energy techniques.