Liposuction and Long Term Results: Does the Fat Come Back?

For many years, liposuction has been one of the most commonly requested cosmetic plastic surgery procedures one that I commonly perform. Ideally, it is employed to remove unwanted fairly localized fat deposits in various areas of the body in order to surgically create a sculptured, desired improvement.

A question that many of my patients have frequently asked me over the years is does the fat come back in areas that have been liposuctioned or does it go elsewhere if one gains weight. With little previous science to provide a definitive answer, my explanation has been that liposuction removes fat cells so there would be fewer cells to manifest changes (enlargement) compared to untreated areas. As a result, effects from weight gain it would be more likely to be seen elsewhere.

Finally, there does appear to be a scientific answer and it does, indeed, seem to support this explanation.

A study was performed and recently presented at the American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting that evaluated patients who underwent smaller volume liposuction (around 2 pounds removed). They were divided into two groups where half were involved in a postoperative exercise regimen while the other half was not. Four months following surgery, both groups weighed the same which was near their preoperative weight but they also maintained the reduced volume of their liposuctioned sites that was seen after surgery.

There was, however, one interesting and significant difference between the two groups. What was noted was that there was an increase in fat deposition intra-abdominally in the non-exercising group which was not seen in the group which worked out.

How can this be generally interpreted?

It seems that fat deposits or enlargement will preferentially go elsewhere (in this case, intra-abdominally) as compared to the treated sites when one puts on weight. As a result, even with some weight gain, much of the contouring result should be maintained. Furthermore, if one works out regularly and maintains a stable weight, there will be little additional deposition of fat.

If you would like more information on liposuction or on any other plastic surgery procedure that I perform or if you would like to schedule a complimentary consultation with me, please call my office at 480-451-3000.

Steven H. Turkeltaub, M.D. P.C.
Scottsdale and Phoenix, Arizona

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