AirSculpt: Patient Died From Complications During Liposuction Procedure, Company Concealed Patient Death; Public Awareness Could Negatively Affect Company

Published on Nov 10, 2023

A 37-year-old mother of two walked into a San Diego AirSculpt (AIRS) office last October for abdominoplasty and gluteoplasty with liposuction.

The woman had been sold on the promise of AirSculpt—advertised as a noninvasive alternative to traditional liposuction that claims to deliver pain-free results with minimal down time.

During the procedure, the patient’s bowel was perforated and she became septic and died the following day, according to a report obtained from the San Diego coroner’s office.

The woman’s death and its connection to the AirSculpt procedure have not been publicly reported, and a Capitol Forum investigation has found that the company worked to conceal the incident from public view.

Former AirSculpt employees with knowledge of the situation have told The Capitol Forum that the company forbid employees from acknowledging the death to prospective patients, who would sometimes ask about risks when considering the procedure. AirSculpt lauds itself as a safer way to eliminate unwanted fat that “requires no needle, scalpel, or stitches, and only leaves behind a freckle-sized scar!”

One person familiar with the incident said the doctor who had performed the procedure continued working on patients for a period after the death.

Another person said the company’s sales staff were told that because the woman’s death occurred at a hospital, and not in the AirSculpt clinic, the company could continue to represent that there had never been a death caused by the procedure.

“That was something we would use as a selling point,” one former employee said, noting that competitor Sono Bello, another laser-based liposuction product, had been linked to at least four deaths.

Indeed, the sales pitch seems to resonate with consumers. As one patient wrote in an online review, “It was between them and Sono Bello, both of them boasting how you can stay awake. I went with Elite Body Sculpture bc no one has died under their care and I read a few did with SB.”

The Sono Bello deaths received media attention, and in one case the company paid $1.8 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit.

Despite numerous former employees telling The Capitol Forum that patients have been harmed during AirSculpt procedures, The Capitol Forum was unable to find any litigation against the company involving patient harm, including the death in San Diego.

Should the public become aware of the death and other situations in which patients were harmed, it could negatively affect the company’s sales.

In its SEC filings, AirSculpt acknowledges that “the degree of market acceptance of the AirSculpt procedure by patients is unproven,” and that acceptance will depend on factors including “the safety and efficacy of AirSculpt procedures relative to other aesthetic products and alternative treatments.”

The Capitol Forum’s calls to relatives of the woman went unreturned. AirSculpt did not respond to a request for comment.