"There are some studies that indicate this is a very safe procedure," says Erhardt. "But it has been around for 18 years, and there is some tendency for us to forget the surgical reality. ... This is not popping in to get the hair done. This is surgery. Patients have to respect that."
Along those lines, Erhardt says that patients ought to be very careful about who they choose for a surgeon. "Stay away from the hucksterism," he advises. "Unfortunately, patients aren't as careful about choosing their cosmetic surgeon as they are about choosing where to buy a new car or get their hair done."
And patients have to be reasonable about expectations. "It's very easy to blame the surgeon or doctor" when something goes wrong, de Jong says. "But I think the patient -- the consumer -- has to accept some of the blame, too. Because a lot of people, obese people, come in basically to lose their girth. They don't just want a little bit out, they want a lot out. And that's a problem."
Rohrich seconds that notion. "The most important point is: Liposuction is for healthy people only," he says. "It is not a cure for obesity. It is absolutely contraindicated. In obesity, you don't need liposuction; you need diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes."
Erhardt, de Jong, and Rohrich agree that there needs to be more research to make liposuction as safe as possible.