If cancer is the dreaded “C” word of diseases, its counterpart for “D” could arguably be diabetes. Referred to as diabetes mellitus by medical professionals, diabetes afflicts more than 420 million people around the world, based on the most recent data from the World Health Organization (WHO). Furthermore, 30.3 million Americans suffer from diabetes or 9.4% of the United States population according to 2015 statistics from the American Diabetes Association (ADA).
Those numbers are expected to rise, with the WHO estimating that diabetes will be the seventh leading cause of death by 2030. In other words, it’s critical for the medical community to continue helping patients avoid this disease, and find new, more effective ways to treat those who currently suffer from it.
People who are overweight are among those most at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, which blocks the body’s cells from using insulin to convert glucose to energy. The result is the body developing resistance to insulin, resulting in a build-up of sugar in the blood and, eventually, health complications.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) predicts that one out of every three Americans will develop type 2 diabetes sometime in their lives. Because a significant number of overweight people suffer from type 2 diabetes – approximately 85% of Americans – many of them are looking to liposuction as a treatment to remove fat cells from their body.
But how safe is it for them to undergo this operation? Do doctors even recommend it?
Quick Facts About Diabetes
Diabetes is a group of metabolic diseases wherein a person exhibits a high level of blood glucose (sugar) due to inadequate production of insulin required to regulate the body’s blood sugar level; body cells not responding properly to insulin; or both.
In addition, diabetes is the leading cause of strokes, heart attacks, blindness, and kidney failure, and can even lead to the amputation of lower limbs. Symptoms include frequent urination, along with increased thirst and hunger.
Common effective treatment and prevention include following a proper diet, exercising regularly, abstaining from tobacco use and keeping a normal body weight.
Is Liposuction an Option for Treatment?
Liposuction is a cosmetic surgical procedure that removes excess fat cells from specific parts of the body, such as the abdomen or thighs. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), in 2017, liposuction was the second most popular cosmetic procedure in the U.S., behind only breast augmentation.
Because only a certain amount of body fat is safe to remove, liposuction should not be seen as a weight loss procedure and done essentially for cosmetic purposes only. Furthermore, liposuction does not actually improve a person’s blood pressure or cholesterol level, or any other symptoms having to do with obesity.
For these reasons, doctors avoid suggesting liposuction as a way for their patients to treat diabetes or obesity.
On the other hand, there is no scientific data or research that would prevent other doctors from recommending liposuction as a treatment for diabetes. There are doctors who openly recommend liposuction for diabetics, as long as the patients meet certain conditions:
- Their diabetic condition is under control and not causing them any complications
- They do not have any kidney ailments
- They agree to take additional blood tests prior to the procedure to ensure patients truly have their diabetes under control and it is safe for them to proceed with the operation
What are the Risks?
While all surgeries include some element of risk for a patient, diabetics are especially more susceptible to complications if they decided to undergo liposuction. For one, their chances of developing an infection are higher. Second, their condition slows down recovery time. Third, it’s challenging for doctors to manage a diabetic patient’s glucose level after a procedure.
Due to these risks, doctors urge their patients to make changes to their diet and lifestyle as a safer, more practical way to lose weight.
Moreover, for diabetics who want to avoid surgery – or who are unable to control their condition well enough to be cleared for liposuction – a good alternative is called CoolSculpting. This non-surgical procedure uses freeze-controlled technology to destroy fat cells in the body. The recovery time is minimal and is a less invasive cosmetic procedure.
Managing Diabetes and Plastic Surgery
Living with diabetes undoubtedly has its challenges, but patients can keep it in check through proper medication and diet, exercise and regular doctor’s check-ups.
Before undergoing any type of procedure to treat their disease, diabetics should consult with their doctor to discuss what’s involved with the operation, how they should prepare for it, the risks involved and what they can expect during recovery time.