Liposuction is a common and popular fat removal procedure performed on tens of thousands of patients every year. It is considered a safe procedure for the majority of patients with few side-effects other than some short-term discomfort. When it comes to removing fat effectively, liposuction is often recommended as an ideal solution and when performed by a skilled plastic surgeon the results are often amazing. However, as with many medical procedures, especially those that involve local anesthetic there are some concerns when it comes to patients with certain procedures. One of the disorders that often dictates if a procedure can be undertaken is diabetes, and a question often asked is “Can Diabetic Patients Undergo Liposuction?”
Can Diabetic Patients Undergo Liposuction?
According to most plastic surgeons around the world, the answer to whether or not diabetic patients can undergo liposuction is a categorical “yes.” However, it is not a straightforward “Yes” and it, therefore, needs some discussion. Diabetics have all kinds of reactions and responses to nearly every kind of surgery and much of these depend on how well the diabetes is kept under control or it is indeed under control at all. If there are further blood pressure and even heart-related conditions aligned to diabetes the “Yes” becomes a little less highly recommended. It is not so much the surgical procedure of Liposuction that is prevented because of diabetes but the pre-operative procedures of a local anesthetic and the recovery process that are the problems. Liposuction works equally well for diabetic and non-diabetic patients, but the risks are slightly higher and more has to be evaluated and monitored before, during and after the procedure.
Diabetes and Local Anesthetics
An area of concern for many surgeons as well as diabetic patients is that of the use of anesthetics, both general and local, during surgery. Because liposuction is performed under local anesthetics the concerns and potential risks that can arise in diabetic patients needs to be placed under the spotlight. One of the most common concerns is that of diabetes mellitus which is rising among diabetics the world over. The challenge is that more than 50% of diabetics with mellitus are undiagnosed or simply do not know they have it. Patients with diabetes mellitus are at greater risk during a procedure performed under local anesthetic because the mellitus causes and indeed can aggravate cardio and heart issues.
With diabetics under local anesthesia for a procedure as mundane as liposuction, the patient does require to be monitored more closely. Most surgeons and support staff are well aware of the potential consequences when diabetes and anesthetics come together while the risks exist they do not necessarily mean that procedures such as Liposuction cannot be performed. With patients who have their diabetes under control much of the time having a local anesthetic simply means being a little more cautious and attentive to the patient and little because when you know what the potential risks are they can be avoided.
Diabetes and Liposuction Recovery
Because liposuction involves surgery the other caveat to the yes for the diabetic patient having the procedure is that of recovery. In general patients with diabetes often suffer from higher levels of bruising after surgery and liposuction recovery is slower than normal patients. These facts do not necessarily prohibit liposuction procedures in diabetic patients but again require a little more attention from the surgical and care teams.
What makes recovery slower for diabetics?
There are studies that have shown resistance to insulin due to the stresses (mental and physical) of any procedure can arise after surgery, liposuction is no different, the intensity of this reaction lays at the heart of the time it takes a diabetic patient to recover. The risk of infection in wounds do not heal properly after surgery, even liposuction, is known to be higher in diabetic patients and these infections can see re-hospitalization of patients within 30 days or less. With proper post-operative care, this can be avoided.
The insulin resistance from surgery can also lead to reduced glucose uptake thus promoting potential hyperglycemia in patients in recovery from a variety of surgical procedures. Glucose levels are of vital importance when recovering from even the smallest surgical operation for both diabetics and non-diabetics. Some related issues that result in a lack of glucose in a patient recovering from surgery, especially higher for diabetics, include:
Dehydration: Often a concern if the diabetes is not well controlled due to an increased urinary output leading to potential osmotic diuresis that soon leads to other complications.
Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA): Stress hormones increase during a surgery like liposuction, making insulin less effective. Where insulin is resisted the body resorts to burning fat rather than glucose resulting in a build-up of ketones or toxic acids in the blood. These ketones can become life-threatening.
Sepsis: Caused by a build-up of bacteria in the bloodstream, sepsis can be very hard to control and often originates from the incisions made during surgery.
Reducing the risks
While there are a handful of recognized risks for diabetics having Liposuction, the same is true for diabetics with any form of surgery. There are, however, a few ways where the risks can be reduced and even eliminated that any diagnosed diabetic can follow. These include:
- Improve general physical fitness
- Reach and maintain your optimal glucose levels
- Healthier high protein diet
- Stay hydrated – drink plenty of water
- Reduce stress levels
- Stop smoking
- Avoid alcohol
With the risks reduced any diabetic should safely be able to undergo liposuction and make a full recovery, start seeing the results from liposuction just a little bit slower than some.
Dr. Ron Goedeke is a cosmetic physician who has been involved in cosmetic medicine since 1997. Liposuction is what Dr. Ron specializes in, as the only surgical procedure he performs.