Background: No concrete data exist to support a specific volume at which liposuction becomes unsafe; surgeons rely on their own estimates, professional organization advisories, or institutional or government-imposed restrictions. This study represents the first attempt to quantify the comprehensive risk associated with varying liposuction volumes and its interaction with body mass index. Methods: Suction-assisted lipectomies were identified from the Tracking Operations and Outcomes for Plastic Surgeons database. Multivariate regression models incorporating the interaction between liposuction volume and body mass index were used to assess the influence of liposuction volume on complications and to develop a tool that returns a single adjusted odds ratio for any combination of body mass index and liposuction volume. Recursive partitioning was used to determine whether exceeding a threshold in liposuction volume per body mass index unit significantly increased complications. Results: Sixty-nine of 4534 patients (1.5 percent) meeting inclusion criteria experienced a postoperative complication. Liposuction volume and body mass index were significant independent risk factors for complications. With progressively higher volumes, increasing body mass index reduced risk (OR, 0.99; 95 percent CI, 0.98 to 0.99; p = 0.007). Liposuction volumes in excess of 100 ml per unit of body mass index were an independent predictor of complications (OR, 4.58; 95 percent CI, 2.60 to 8.05; p < 0.001). Conclusions: Liposuction by board-certified plastic surgeons is safe, with a low risk of life-threatening complications. Traditional liposuction volume thresholds do not accurately convey individualized risk. The authors' risk assessment model demonstrates that volumes in excess of 100 ml per unit of body mass index confer an increased risk of complications.
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