Can fat return after Liposuction?

Hi everybody. I think I've finally saved enough money to go get that liposuction I've always dreamed about but now I've started worrying if the lipo fat will come back again. I weigh around 135 lbs and my doctor says I’m an ideal candidate for a lipo because most of the fat is concentrated around my belly - with some on my thighs as well. My goal is to maintain my weight after the procedure by doing sports and eating healthy, but what happens if I’m not able to do that?

user1200866

F, 41, Delaware

That's a great question and one we get all the time.  Your body is genetically programmed to store fat in certain priority locations, which is why you will tend to get excess fat in certain areas and not others.  After liposuction, your body's fat storage capacity in the areas where you've had the fat cells removed is diminished.  As all the fat in an area is not removed during liposuction, if you gain more weight after liposuction it is still possible for you to store the excess fat in the areas where you had the liposuction.  However, it is much more common for your body to move on to the next location to store fat.  This is why people say "you will gain it somewhere else".  The bottom line is liposuction is a body contouring procedure, not a weight loss procedure.  You should have it done when your weight is stable and are at your optimal weight.  It should be used to treat problem areas that are not improved with weight loss (i.e. "I'm at my goal weight by I can't ever get rid of this fat on my sides").  

Dr. Gary Breslow has 5 Liposuction - Abs, Liposuction - Flanks before & afters:

» View Dr. Gary Breslow's full profile

If you don’t maintain your weight after surgery it will likely come back. I am preparing for liposuction surgery in my lower abdomen and on my thighs. During surgery, fat cells are removed and the body does not replace them. If you gain weight, the remaining fat cells will get larger. This can create fat deposits. To keep from dealing with this, I worked on creating a healthy diet and exercise schedule that fits into my daily life. Start preparing now for how you plan to maintain your health and weight after your procedure. If you aren’t able to exercise, focus on the food you eat. Try to keep your weight around 135 and you’ll keep the results of your liposuction looking good!

I was always curious about this too. 

Good for you! I know that it's a hard decision to make. And with how some people act nowadays, it's brave, too! Don't worry about anything like that. Fat cells removed by liposuction cannot grow back. Even if you gained weight, you'd keep the shape that you got with the surgery. When I gained weight after an accident, I noticed I gained weight in different areas. But I like to stay fit and as soon as I was clear to exercise again, it was back to my perfect body!

I was concerned about the same thing before my liposuction, but after discussing it with my doctor, I was able to put my mind at ease and move forward with the treatment. That being said, after liposuction, your new body shape will be more or less permanent. If you do gain a moderate amount of weight, your body will still maintain its post-lipo state just in a slightly larger version because the fat cells that are removed do not grow back.

After my procedure, I’ve fluctuated up and down 5-10 pounds from my original surgery weight. Even with that fluctuation, though, the fat pooches that I had before the procedure have yet to come back. I’ve been very pleased with my results and the shape that my body has maintained even with gaining and losing a little here and there after the procedure.