Is Liposuction Permanent?
Christopher Chung, M.D.
American Board of Plastic Surgery
Chief Medical Officer
We are all born with the number of fat cells in our bodies.
When we gain weight, these populations of fat cells grow in size…. a metaphor that I commonly use for patients is to assume that we are filled with millions of balloons, the number does not change as we gain weight, the size of the balloons increases with weight gain.
As important to the number of fat cells in the body is the location of these populations of fat cells. We refer to areas where fat SELECTIVELY collects as areas of selective lipodystrophy: the upper abdomen, the lower abdomen, the waist, the hips, the bra rolls, the knees, the thighs, the neck, and arms are examples of selective zones of fat deposition.
Genetics, gender, and age determine the selective deposition of fat into these zones creating characteristic shapes in males, females, younger and older individuals and individuals of different ethnicity. Usually, these are the areas that are difficult to diminish even with the best dietary restrictions and exercise discipline. Liposuction IS the technique that selectively diminishes fat in these areas to permanently change shape.
So the question then becomes, “Is liposuction permanent?”
A common misconception in patients contemplating liposuction is that they are signing up to have repeated procedures if they gain weight. Not necessarily true especially if they adhere to reasonably disciplined lifestyles. If a patient does gain a significant amount of weight, however, the fat in the area of the previous liposuction is now NOT the primary focus site for weight gain. There may be other areas of secondary fat collection which will now deposit the fat. This is also defined by genetics, gender, and age.
At Sono Bello, we design liposuction techniques to remove fat cell populations in areas called “aesthetic units” so if weight is gained, that area will enlarge in harmony with the body and not selectively more than other areas in the body as was witnessed in the procedure.
In my experience, most patients are so pleased with the shape changes achieved with liposuction that they enlist in healthier lifestyles and do not see fat deposition in other areas.
Mike Garrison, President, Sono Bello: Dr. Chung please tell us a little bit about the permanent nature of the liposuction results and what can be achieved?
Dr. Chris Chung, Chief Medical Officer, Sono Bello:
Great question. We get asked that question a lot, “will my fat come back?” and the answer is, let me sort of explain to you about how liposuction works. When we do liposuction, we are removing the number of fat cells, so hypothetically let’s say that you start off with 100 fat cells. When we do liposuction, we are removing let’s say 30 to 40 of those so you will be left with 60. You cannot ever regain the number of fat cells that we removed however let’s say, for whatever reason, that you don’t pay attention to our post-op instructions, you are non-compliant, and you use some indiscretion. That’s not to say that the remaining fat cells couldn’t become larger in size, so when you gain weight, you are gaining the size of each fat cells. When we’re operating we’re actually removing the number, so from that stance liposuction is permanent, however, in order for you to get the best outcome you need to comply with better lifestyle habits and our post-op instructions.