Does Fat Come Back After Liposuction?

Posted on December 28, 2018 by: Dr. Ronald DeMars

Fat may return after liposuction

Wondering if fat can return after liposuction? Dr. DeMars has the answer! First, let’s start with some background to the procedure and what it does.

Did you know that liposuction, the mechanical or surgical removal of fat, was introduced in the United States in the early 1980’s? Portland plastic surgeon Dr. Ronald DeMars was one of the first surgeons in the Northwest to perform the procedure, having learned from Dr. Fred Grazer who pioneered the surgery in this country!

Over the years many variations of the liposuction procedure have been developed, but they all focus on the removal of lipocytes, the cells that store fat. The operation is not done to lose weight; in fact, it is not safe to remove more than 10 pounds with liposuction! Even taking off that much can carry high risk, so plastic surgeons focus on reshaping areas that have too much fat, rather than removing as much fat as possible. This is a form of Body Sculpting.

One of the common questions Dr. DeMars’ patients ask when researching the procedure is “will the fat come back?” and if so “where will it go?”.

The fat cells act like little balloons, getting bigger or smaller depending on how much fat they are storing as opposed to simply developing more cells. The liposuction operation removes a certain amount of fat cells and the fat they contain in very specific areas in order to do the contouring the patient desires. It is not possible to remove all the fat cells in any area so if the patient gains weight later, the remaining fat cells will pick up more fat. In this case, though the area might become “fuller” in appearance, the new contour tends to be maintained rather than getting the offending bulge back.

So, an area treated by liposuction can still get larger due to weight gain, but it’s because the remaining fat cells in that area have “expanded” rather than more fat cells being created.

Other areas can also enlarge if the patient gains weight, so if the thighs are reduced with liposuction and weight gain occurs, the weight gain may happen in the tummy, arms, or other areas. Part of the counseling that Dr. DeMars does with his patients prior to surgery is centered on maintaining a healthy diet and good exercise program in the future after the liposuction surgery.

If you feel liposuction might be of interest in your situation, please make an appointment with Dr. DeMars at his Portland office today.