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October 3, 2001

Liposuction in Medical Offices

Author Affiliations

Stephen J.LurieMD, PhD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthorJody W.ZylkeMD, Contributing EditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 2001;286(13):1575-1576. doi:10.1001/jama.286.13.1573

To the Editor: In a Research Letter about injuries from surgical procedures performed in Florida medical offices, Dr Coldiron1 contends that "liposuction under general anesthesia may deserve closer scrutiny since many of the most serious complications occurred with this procedure." Recent findings underscore his concern, because liposuction has been linked nationwide to a higher fatality rate than other surgical procedures.2 However, the 76 Florida medical office incidents reported from February 1999 through December 2000 (summarized on Coldiron's Web site3) offer no evidence that liposuction using general anesthesia—the technique preferred by plastic surgeons—is intrinsically less safe than liposuction using field block (tumescent) anesthesia—the technique favored by dermatologic surgeons. Rather, the data decisively support the more troubling conclusion that any liposuction surgery causes relatively more adverse incidents in office practice than other procedures.