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5 Liposuction Deaths Reported by New York Officials Cause Concern

May 13, 1999

At least five people have died after undergoing liposuction in New York City and one other unnamed city, researchers from the New York City Poison Control Center report in today's New England Journal of Medicine. "We suspect it's a rare occurrence," said Dr. Rama B. Rao, "but it is not rare enough." Last year, 172,079 Americans underwent liposuction, in which excess fat is vacuumed out of the body, according to the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons.

Two of the five patients died of cardiac arrest during the procedure, and one was stricken by fluid buildup in the lungs two hours later. One suffered blood clots in the lungs the next day, and the fifth died of complications of low blood pressure and slow heartbeat. Rao speculated that at least three of the deaths were caused by the anesthetic lidocaine, which is normally used in the procedure.

Compiled by Times medical writer Thomas H. Maugh II

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