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Study: Fat May Return After Liposuction

Researchers Say Fat May Come Back 1 Year After Having the Cosmetic Procedure

Tracking the Return of Fat in Liposuction Patients continued...

At six weeks, the percent body fat in the liposuction group declined by 2.1% and by 0.28% in the comparison group.

At six months, the difference between groups declined. By one year, there was no significant difference in body fat between the two groups.

The fat that came back in different areas was not just the fat that lies directly under the skin, known as subcutaneous, but also the deeper visceral fat, linked with heart disease risk.

However, he says, "We did not see an adverse metabolic effect."

Even though the fat reappeared at different sites, he says, most of the women said they were still satisfied with the results of the procedure.

The study was funded partially by a National Institutes of Health grant.

Eckel's advice to those about to undergo liposuction? "Be prepared. Your fat will come back and it may be distributed in your waist or above [if the areas liposuctioned are below that.]"

Eckel cannot explain for sure why the fat returns in different places. However, he speculates, "the brain senses a loss of fat and restores it."

Liposuction Not for Weight Loss

Phil Haeck, MD, is president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and a Seattle plastic surgeon. He reviewed the new research for WebMD and calls it a ''landmark'' study.

"I hope we have more of these," he says.

However, he notes some limitations, such as the small number of women studied.

He would have liked to see before-and-after photos, to gauge how noticeable the fat return was.

Of the fat return, he says, "I haven't seen it in my patients."

Neither has Marcel Daniels, MD, a plastic surgeon in Long Beach, Calif., who also reviewed the study findings for WebMD.

He has performed liposuction for 20 years.

''With that small study, it's preliminary," he says of the findings. "You can't draw a conclusion from that."

He wonders if some of the changes in fat tracked over the year could be age-related, as the women's average age was 40.

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