New Study Shows that Fat Does NOT Migrate After Liposuction

As a Denver Plastic Surgeon, a question I am commonly asked following body contouring is, “Will that fat come back somewhere else?” There are apparently a number of sites online that warn potential patients that they may gain fat in other parts of their body if they undergo liposuction.

To me, this has really never made sense from a physiologic standpoint.  When I perform liposuction, I remove or injure a certain number of fat cells in the treated area and remove the contents of these cells.  When this happens, the end result is that there is not only less volume of fat but also fewer fat cells in general.  Theoretically, if my patient maintains their current weight these remaining fat cells stay at their current volume.  If you change their diet (eat less healthy) and reduce your exercise, fat cells in the treated areas can gain volume, as can fat cells in other areas of the body.  My anecdotal feeling is that when this happens, because there are greater numbers of fat cells in the non-treated areas, it may appear that the person is differentially gaining more fat in these areas.  So, in reality fat is not migrating to non-treated areas, but the very fact that there are a greater number of storage sites (fat cells) in the non-treated areas allows for accumulation to occur more efficiently.  And this may give the appearance that the fat has seemingly shifted to different parts of your body.

The answer?  If you are motivated enough to seek body contouring, consider your procedure as a “jump start” and not a “cure”.  What I accomplish is merely an addition to what you should be accomplishing on your own with proper exercise and a healthy diet.  If you fall off the proverbial wagon, then you can gain fat and you can undo the results of your procedure.

A recent article in the Journal of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery clearly stated that fat cells neither return to treated areas nor get redistributed to untreated areas of the body after liposuction.  This finding was in direct opposition to another study in Obesity that suggested that fat does return to untreated areas of the body within one year of surgery.

I encourage you to CLICK HERE to read more about this very interesting topic.  If you have more questions about Denver liposuction or other Plastic Surgery procedures, please call my office or email me at [email protected]

We look forward to hearing from you!

Gregory A. Buford, MD FACS