Can the fat return after a liposuction?

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Liposuction is a popular cosmetic procedure that involves suctioning unwanted fat out of the body to create more pleasing physical proportions and immediate, permanent results. Nearly 225,000 liposuction procedures were performed in 2015. The procedure is used to create a sculpted, toned appearance to the body or to slim down areas that have accumulated excess fat. But liposuction is not supposed to be recommended to patients as a weight-loss procedure. Recent studies have shed more light on why liposuction isn’t effective for weight loss.


New research published in the journal Obesity has shown that, at least for women, fat that’s removed using liposuction returns within a short period of time, but distributes itself in different regions of the body. The study followed 32 women between the ages of 18 and 50 years of age through surgery and over the course of one year. Researchers say that within approximately twelve months, the fat stores that were eliminated with innovative fat surgery tend to return. Body Mass Index goes down in the first six weeks following surgery, but over the course of the year that follows, Body Mass Index returns to its original status. For example, if a woman has liposuction done on her lower abdomen, thighs, or hips, the fat is permanently removed from those areas and won’t be prone to return to those areas. Instead fat will re-accumulate in areas of the body such as the triceps, the upper abdomen, or it will take up residence in the viscera, close to the organs instead of in the subcutaneous layers of the skin.

Fat will re-accumulate in areas of the body

Scientists don’t know why fat returns so quickly to the body after liposuction or why it tends to settle in different areas of the body other than the ones that were treated. Speculation is that trauma to fat cells in the areas of the body treated with liposuction somehow prevents the fat from returning there. The brain may be responsible for causing the body to regain fat stores so quickly after they’ve been removed. In an effort to maintain an equilibrium, it’s possible that the brain sends messages to the body to store more fat in the months following liposuction surgery.

Though liposuction does permanently remove fat cells from the body, the truth is, patients will likely regain any of the weight they lost as a result of the procedure, according to Dr. Louis Cole from Atlanta. For this reason, liposuction isn’t effective for weight loss. Doctors recommend that patients maintain their post-lipo weight in order to keep excess fat off the body, but as a general rule, if the patient gains weight, the fat distribution on the body will be different because liposuction removes excess fat cells from localized areas, which means that there will be fewer cells in those areas to become engorged with fat. Many patients remain satisfied with the results of their liposuction procedure even if they regain some of the weight they lost during the procedure.

A healthy lifestyle keeps the fat away

Though many plastic surgeons deny having seen their own patients regain weight after liposuction, the research demonstrates how important it is for women to take up a healthy lifestyle both before and following their procedure. The body may be calibrated to hold onto fat after fat cells have been removed during a liposuction surgery, but through proper diet and exercise, patients should still be able to keep control of their weight in order to maintain excellent results. And clearly liposuction is not the ideal procedure for weight loss, but it is still the procedure of choice for body sculpting and for creating the appearance of a toned physique.

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