July 21, 2009
The American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities, the leading accrediting group, studied data at accredited outpatient centers from January 2001 through June 2006 and found 23 deaths among 1.1 million procedures. The most common procedure associated with the deaths was abdominoplasty, or tummy tuck, followed by face-lift surgery. Risks increased when multiple procedures were performed during the same visit. The leading cause of death was a pulmonary embolism, in which a blood clot forms and travels to the lung. Other causes of death included heart attacks following surgery, heart and breathing problems related to anesthesia, and abuse of pain medications given after surgery.
Patients also had complications including hematoma, or internal bleeding, following breast-enlargement surgery, infection, the development of dead tissue known as necrosis, cardiac arrests, breathing problems, pulmonary embolism and other blood clots, and allergic reactions. “Complications occur even in the best of hands under the best of circumstances,” says Los Angeles plastic surgeon Geoffrey Keyes, who led the study. “But outpatient surgery is very safe for healthy patients in accredited facilities run by competent professionals.”
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