Lower Body Liposuction Fat Returns 'Upstairs' in Abdomen, Arms

Liposuction has become the most popular elective surgery with more than 450,000 operations every year, with each costing several thousand dollars. A key question about liposuction — first done in 2974 —  is whether or not the fat comes back. If so , where?

A new study led by Drs. Teri L. Hernandez and Robert H. Eckel of the University of Colorado has the answer, and it’s not positive. The result of their study, published in the latest issue of Obesity confirms that the fat does return, but not to the area of the body liposuctioned.

Women who had liposuction in their thighs had new fat redistributed upstairs, ‘mostly in the upper abdomen, but also around the shoulders and triceps of the arms.’

Dr. Felmont Eaves III, a plastic surgeon in Charlotte, N.C., and president of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, said the study was “very well done,” and the results were surprising. He said he would mention it to his patients in the context of other information on liposuction. (via NYTimes)

The outcome did not depend on the surgeon but rather the biology of fat. As longterm successful dieters know, the body ‘defends’ its fat. The new study confirms that even if you suck out the fat with liposuction, it comes back.

Liposuction will now be considered as a procedure that redistributes fat. Half the participants in the study’s control group decided to still have the surgery and pay for it at a reduced cost, even though they knew the fat would return in another location.

The article doesn’t discuss the long-term health implications of belly fat, which is geneerally considered the most dangerous location for fat.