BMJ Case Reports 2017; doi:10.1136/bcr-2017-220789
  • Rare disease

Fat attacks!: a case of fat embolisation syndrome postliposuction

Press Release
  1. Mohammed Asif Arshad
  1. Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust, Intensive Care Unit, Birmingham, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Adam Ali, adam.ali3{at}
  • Accepted 16 August 2017
  • Published 25 September 2017


Liposuction is a procedure commonly performed in the UK usually with a low incidence of serious sequelae; however with larger patients and increased volumes of lipoaspirate, complications have been reported more frequently. One of the rare but very serious complications postliposuction is fat embolism syndrome (FES), a life-threatening condition difficult to diagnose and limited in treatment.

The authors present the case of a 45-year-old woman who was admitted to the intensive care unit postelective liposuction for bilateral leg lipoedema. She presented with the triad of respiratory failure, cerebral dysfunction and petechial rash requiring a brief period of organ support. This case highlights that with the recent increase in liposuction procedures worldwide, FES is a differential to always consider. Although still a rare condition this article emphasises the importance of thinking outside the box and how to identify and manage such a life-threatening complication.


  • Contributors AA, GT and MAA contributed equally to this paper; all were involved in the conception and production of the initial manuscript as well as secondary drafts and production of figures. All authors meet the IJCME authorship requirements.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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