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Liposuction Emboli... The Real Truth

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Lipo Emboli… Small but Deadly!

When it comes to surgery of any type, emboli can be extremely dangerous.

These potential killers are on the radar screen of every surgeon.

And active steps should be taken to make sure that preventative steps are taken.

Don't be surprised if you doctor has you moving shortly after surgery (not doing strenuous exercises – of course). But he or she may get you up to prevent these small, but serious things.

Want to know more about them, and what your doctor may have you do to avoid them?...

Without further ado, let's get started.

What are emboli?

What are emboli?...

Put simply – embolisms are most typically known as "blood clots".

However during liposuction surgery – small clots of loosened fat can also travel in the bloodstream to distant parts of the body.

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) – is a preventable medical condition that occurs when blood clots form in the large veins of the body.

These blood and fat clots can form for various reasons:

  1. Major surgery, such as liposuction
  2. Immobility, such as being confined to a hospital bed
  3. Recent injury, particularly long bone fractures
  4. Increased estrogen, from birth control pills, pregnancy, etc.
  5. Certain chronic medical conditions, such as heart disease, or cancer
  6. Age, increased age can increase risk of blood clotting
  7. Burns
  8. Paralysis
  9. Obesity
  10. Smoking

Slow blood flow can exacerbate the condition. Confinement in bed after surgery – is one of risk factors associated with blood and fat clots. And embolisms can occur without warning – and with no symptoms at all.

Almost anyone can develop a blood clot under the right circumstances. Your job is to make sure that you take the steps to prevent them in the first place.

Can emboli be prevented?

One of the most important steps to take in blood clot prevention – is to get mobile.

After surgery be sure to follow your doctor's instructions for rest and recovery, and then move around as soon as possible after having been confined to your bed.

Your doctor may also prescribe compression garments - which are worn to reduce swelling and decrease the chance of dangerous blood clot formation.

And finally, quit or avoid smoking.

Smoking constricts blood vessels and decreases the amount of oxygen in the blood which can be a precipitating factor in and of itself. When smoking is combined with surgery of any kind, the results can be fatal.

How can I tell if I have a blood clot?

Again, half of the time people who have clots don't even know it. But for those who do experience symptoms the most common are:

  1. Swelling
  2. Tenderness
  3. Pain
  4. Redness of skin

If you have any of the symptoms above, you should see your doctor as soon as possible.

When is it life-threatening?

Occasionally a piece of a blood clot or fat clot will break off and travel through the blood stream to the lungs, or brain. It goes without saying almost – that this is a very dangerous condition.

If a blood clot arrives at the brain it can cause a stroke. And when a blood or fat clot travels to the lungs it is called a pulmonary embolism or PE. PE is a very serious medical emergency that can cause death.

The symptoms for PE are difficulty breathing, a faster than normal heart beat, chest pain which worsens with coughing or deep breathing, and lightheadedness. If you experience any of these symptoms seek medical help immediately.

What is the take-home here?

Blood clots are to be taken very seriously.

All of us can be at risk for them if the right conditions arise. So, are best weapon against them is prevention and a little education.

If you are at increased risk of blood or fat clots because you have just had elective surgery like liposuction, be sure to follow the doctor's orders without alteration.

The life you save may just be your own.

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All About Liposuction Emboli References:

  • "Facts About Deep Vein Thrombosis." USA Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Facts Sheets for Healthy Living. (From Web February 20, 2010).

  • "Are You At Risk for Deep Vein Thrombosis?." USA Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (From Web February 18, 2010) http://www.cdc.gov/Features/Thrombosis/.

  • Gupta, Amandeep and Charles S. Reilly. "Fat Embolism." Continuing Education in Anaesthesia, Critical Care & Pain. 2007;7(5): 148-151. Oxford University Press.

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