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Can fat return after liposuction?


There's a good reason why liposuction is one of the most popular cosmetic treatments in the United States, with 222,051 procedures completed in 2015. Liposuction produces near immediate results, instantly removing unwanted body fat in isolated areas of the body to create the ideal silhouette. Even the fittest of individuals often turn to liposuction to get rid of stubborn pockets of fat that are frequently unresponsive to diet and exercise.

Beyond the initial dramatic results, many patients considering liposuction have concerns over longevity. In fact, one of the most common questions our practice receives concerning liposuction is "can fat return after my treatment?"

Liposuction permanently removes fat

While there are several different liposuction techniques commonly used today, all variations focus on a singular goal: removing fat cells from a targeted (localized) area of the body. All liposuction procedures use the combination of a cannula (hallow tube) and aspirator (suctioning device) to literally suction out stubborn fat.

It is important to note that liposuction does indeed permanently remove fat cells from the body.

Can fat return?

Unfortunately, it is possible for fat to return after liposuction... if you allow it to come back. In general, the more weight gained by a patient after liposuction, the less dramatic their results will be.

Fat will not return (and ideal results will remain intact) if the patient maintains their "post-lipo weight." For example, if a patient weighed 130 pounds prior liposuction and had a total of 6 pounds removed through the procedure, fat will stay away if the patient maintains their weight at or below 124 pounds.

If the patient gains a small amount of weight after their procedure, say 5 pounds, fat cells throughout the body will get a little bigger. While this slight weight gain can diminish results, the overall improved body shape provided by a liposuction procedure will still be visible as treated body areas have less fat cells (and thus experience a lower enlargement rate) compared to surrounding areas.

Finally, in cases of considerable weight gain (i.e. 10% of their body weight); new fat cells can develop in all areas of the body, including treated areas. However, since new fat cell creation typically occurs in an even manner throughout the body, fat often accumulates less in treated areas compared to untreated areas. Thus many liposuction patients who gain considerable post-procedure weight tend to still look better than if they did not undergo liposuction.

Maintenance tips: How to keep your liposuction results

The most effective way to sustain the results of any liposuction procedure over the long-term is to maintain your ideal weight. Here are 6 healthy lifestyle changes to adopt following your procedure:

  1. Follow all post-procedure instructions provided by your surgeon.
  2. Reduce caloric intake while eating a healthy diet focused on protein and healthy carbohydrates.
  3. Stay properly hydrated by drinking lots of water.
  4. Try eating several smaller meals throughout the day.
  5. Never skip meals.
  6. Exercise regularly.
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