May 3, 2011 -- Liposuction, the popular fat-sucking procedure, can trim problem areas of the body. However, the fat removed returns in a relatively short time, according to a new study.
''All the fat is back by one year," says researcher Robert H. Eckel, MD, professor of medicine, physiology and biophysics at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. However, it does not return to the spot that has been operated on. "The fat comes back in different places," Eckel tells WebMD. In his study, the women had liposuction of the lower abdomen, hips, or thighs and were followed for a year. "The reaccumulation of fat was in the upper abdomen and triceps."
The areas that had liposuction did not regain fat, he says. He speculates that the probing of those areas that occurs during liposuction somehow prevents fat from returning there.
The new study is published in the journal Obesity.
More than 203,000 liposuction procedures were done in 2010, up 2% from the year before, says LaSandra Cooper, a spokeswoman for the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. In the procedure, a thin, hollow tube is inserted through incisions to loosen the fat. Next, the dislodged fat is suctioned out.
Two plastic surgeons who reviewed the findings for WebMD say they have not noticed the fat returning in their liposuction patients.
Tracking the Return of Fat in Liposuction Patients
For the study, Eckel and his colleagues evaluated 32 women. The average body mass index (BMI) was below 25 and considered a healthy weight. The range was 22 to 27.
The women had been at a healthy weight for at least three to six months. None had a history of weight loss of more than 10% of their maximum body weight. They had not had liposuction before.
Their average age was 40. The age range was 18 to 50. None had yet gone through menopause.
Of the 32, 14 were assigned to get liposuction. The other 18 served as the comparison group,
The women agreed not to change their lifestyle habits such as exercise and eating habits.
In the liposuction group, doctors removed up to 5 liters of fat from up to three regions: hips, thighs, and lower abdomen.