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 Thursday, 13 May, 1999, 17:29 GMT 18:29 UK
Liposuction danger investigated
Overweight
Fighting fat is a popular pastime in New York
A new study in the United States has suggested that liposuction, the cosmetic procedure which removes fat, may be fatal in some cases.

Doctors in the United States have identified five people who died while undergoing the fat-removing procedure in New York city over a five-year period.

Of the five people, three died from hypotension, or a serious decrease in blood pressure, and one from blood clotting.

The cause of the fifth person's death was not released by the family.

Though the doctors say they cannot confirm that liposuction caused the deaths, they strongly suspect it contributed to them.

According to the BBC's Jane Hughes in New York, in a city where cosmetic surgery is considered a normal part of life in some circles, the news of fatalities involving liposuction is sure to be greeted with concern.

Unwanted fat removal

During the procedure, surgeons suck out unwanted body fat while injecting salt water and drugs to anaesthetize the patient and reduce blood loss.

According to the investigation, results of which were published in the New England Journal of Medicine, doctors believe three of the deaths could have been connected to the toxic effects of the drugs used in the operation.

Almost 300,000 people in the United States have the operation every year, and plastic surgeons maintain that liposuction is safe.

But the authors of the study say it is not a trivial procedure and argue that the deaths are a matter for serious public concern.

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