Electrolyte and plasma enzyme analyses during large-volume liposuction

Avron H. Lipschitz, Jeffrey M. Kenkel, Maureen Luby, Evan Sorokin, Rod J. Rohrich, Spencer A. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Substantial fluid shifts occur during liposuction as wetting solution is infiltrated subcutaneously and fat is evacuated, causing potential electrolyte imbalances. In the porcine model for large-volume liposuction, plasma aspartate aminotransferase and alanine transaminase levels were elevated following liposuction. These results raised concerns for possible mechanical injury and/or lidocaine-induced hepatocellular toxicity in a clinical setting. The first objective of this human model study was to explore the effect of the liposuction procedure on electrolyte balance. The second objective was to determine whether elevated plasma aminotransferase levels were observed subsequent to large-volume liposuction. Five female volunteers underwent three-stage, ultrasound-assisted liposuction. Blood samples were collected perioperatively. Plasma levels of sodium, potassium, venous carbon dioxide, blood urea nitrogen, chloride, and creatinine were determined. Liver function analyte levels were measured, including albumin, total protein, aspartate aminotransferase, and alanine transaminase, alkaline phosphatase, gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase, and total bilirubin. To further define intracellular enzyme release, creatine kinase levels were measured. Mild hyponatremia was evident postoperatively (134 to 136 mmol/liter) in four patients. Hypokalemia was evident intraoperatively in all subjects (mean ± SEM; 3.3 ± 0.16 mmol/liter; range, 3.0 to 3.4 mmol/liter). Hypoalbuminemia and hypoproteinemia were observed throughout the study (baseline: 2.9 ± 0.2 g/dl; range, 2.6 to 3.5 g/dl), decreasing to 10 to 40 percent 24 hours postoperatively (2.0 ± 0.2 g/dl; range, 1.7 to 2.1 g/dl). Aspartate aminotransferase, alanine transaminase, and creatine kinase levels were significantly elevated after the procedure (190 ± 47.1 U/liter, 50 ± 7.7 U/liter, and 11,219 ± 2556.7 U/liter, respectively) (p < 0.01). Release of antidiuretic hormone and even mildly hypotonic intravenous fluid infiltration have long been known to cause hyponatremia postoperatively. Intraoperative hypokalemia is associated with hypocarbia and respiratory alkalosis and the elevated epinephrine levels observed in the concurrent study. Factors having the greatest initial impact on diminished serum albumin and protein levels postoperatively are redistribution and hemodilution. Subsequent diminished viscosity may significantly affect postoperative hemodynamics. Elevated aspartate aminotransferase, alanine transaminase, and creatine kinase levels are associated with skeletal muscle injury, adipocyte lysis, and/or hepatic damage. Therefore, tissue injury is associated with large-volume liposuction as observed in several cellularly released enzymes. Future clinical studies are required to determine the degree of injury and specific tissues that are damaged or sensitive to mechanical trauma and/or drugs used in large-volume liposuction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)766-775
Number of pages10
JournalPlastic and reconstructive surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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