Fat Embolism: What is it and how to avoid?

What is a Fat Embolism? A fat embolism is a potential life threatening event. Fat embolism (FE) is a condition of blood flow blockage caused by pieces of intravascular fat lodged within a blood vessel. The presence of fat emboli in pulmonary or systemic circulation can often be the cause and trigger for fat embolism syndrome (FES). Fat embolism syndrome is a noted complication after a traumatic injury, and is also a possibility after liposuction. Fat embolisms are life threatening when it enters and gets into the pulmonary artery and capillaries. A fat embolism can have similar effects as a heart attack. Having the potential consequences of a devastating death, prescriptions, observatory, or ICU could be necessary.


So what is the cause of a fat embolism? Fat embolisms occur when fat gets into the superior and inferior gluteal artery or vein. Fat emboli can be a complication of liposuction. 


The theory for why liposuction has the mentioned complications resulting in a fat embolism can be divided into two. The first theory of the formation of fat emboli is due to the direct injection of fat during liposuction. The injection of fat must be in muscular or submuscular plains. The direction of fat should be near the piriformis muscle and into the gluteal. The surgeon should use a cannula to penetrate the vein with its tip and then inject fat into the intravascular space. The tip of the cannula is wide and rounded, measuring at 4.0-5.0 mm. The second theory is called the siphoning effect. The siphoning effect is when the submuscular plane is loose. When this submuscular plane is loose, if stretched up, the vein will be torn. When pulling and stretching up, the intra and submuscular plains are filled up as the fat in these areas are siphoned into the tear in the vein. This siphoning negates the pressure. To avoid these consequences, of fat emboli forming from liposuction procedures, it is critical that one does not inject fat into or under the muscle. Using visual guidance with high resolution ultrasound, a safe BBL procedure can avoid a patient having a fat embolism.

If you are interested in liposuction surgery, we encourage you to view Dr. Mowlavi’s liposuction surgery gallery of  before and after photos to appreciate the changes that are possible. You are welcome to contact Dr. Mowlavi and his team, located in Laguna Beach, California at the Cosmetic Plastic Surgery Institute. Dr. Mowlavi is internationally regarded for his safe and transformative liposuction surgery results. 

Please take a look at this 45 year old patient, 3 months following a high resolution ultrasound assisted liposuction procedure.

Fat Embolism: What is it and how to avoid?bbl-patient-1-(2) image



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