Liposuction for Children

Liposuction for Children

Whether or not a child should undergo liposculpture has been an issue distressing both parents and ethical surgeons. The terms ‘children’ or ‘child’ here refer to all people below the age of 18 years. This page looks at the pros and cons of liposuction for children and their eligibility assessment.

Types of Children Considered for Liposculpture

“The fat kid”: Childhood obesity is on the rise in the United States. In fact, it is a growing concern for parents worldwide. The intake of unhealthy, calorie-laden foods, the lack of physical activity, and crazy schedules make many children physically weak. This hampers their development and results in a significant weight gain. Overweight children may face physical feasibility difficulties at school. Their fellow students and teachers may scorn them due to their size and their inability to perform at the required level. Consequently, the child may become self-conscious, depressed and may lose self-confidence.

The weight concerns of children may hamper their social behavior. They may not be able to participate in outdoor events requiring stamina and swiftness. These situations may add to depression and increase the possibility of severe health complications, including diabetes and hypertension.

The symptoms of obesity are evident even in infants as young as two months old. With time, the cuteness quotient starts declining and sneering sets in. Chubby cheeks and the roly-poly body make the children the butt of jokes, mostly embarrassing. This inspires the parents of such children to seek for weight management avenues, including surgical liposuction. They feel it is an easy and speedy solution to their child’s and their own trauma. In fact, the field of child bariatric surgery offers liposuction for infants as young as a few days old. Still, with the kind of grave health risks associated with the process, liposuction procedure for children definitely requires a critical reality check.

Idol Worship: Another group of children seeking liposculpture includes teenagers deep into idol worship. These youngsters want to look like their role models in the visual media: television, films or print. Often, they are unhappy with their body type and have a misplaced hope of ‘immediate’ results from surgery which would allow them to be a part of the lean gang.

Liposuction Surgery for Children – Limitations

  • Not an Obesity Treatment: Liposuction is an aesthetic, body sculpting surgery,      in which stubborn fat pockets are emptied to improve the body contour. It      is particularly for  people who      almost have a desired body mass indexe (BMI), but have resistant unwanted      fat deposits, especially in the abdomen, hips, and thighs. Therefore,      liposuction surgery tones just those extra inches. The procedure is not a      treatment for “normal” child obesity.       A maximum of 10-12 pounds of fat can be removed in a session in an      adult, and proportionately less in children.


  • Excessive Liposuction: Obese people, including children, will need to undergo      a full body liposuction spread across several sessions, to witness any      improvement. A body often has difficulty coping with this trauma. Children      have an immature, developing,       delicate frame, which further limits their stress coping ability.      Consequently, the fat balancing surgery may backfire, harming the body’s      physiology and biochemistry.


  • Anesthesia Risk:      To keep it less painful, liposuction is conducted under local or general      anesthesia, as applicable. The anesthesia, however, comes bundled with its      sets of severe risks. A mature body is somewhat vulnerable to such      problems, and that of a child is definitely much more sensitive.      Anesthesia may affect the body severely.


  • Liposuction Injury: The process of child liposuction is the same as that      of adults. Incisions are made in the area to be treated. A cannula is inserted      through an incision and into the fat stuck between the skin and muscles.      It is then pulled and pushed to loosen the fat, which is finally vacuumed      out. The rigorous cannula movement adds to the risk, due to the likelihood      of internal injuries. It is painful for the tender body of a child. The      side effects may result in future health complications. At the least, the      operated area often swells and experiences a burning sensation.


  • Activity Levels:      Adequate rest is vital for a quick recovery from any medical treatment,      including liposuction. Relaxation is especially important in children, as      their delicate body undergoes stress and trauma during and after surgery.      The problem is that children are mostly quite active, and confining them      to rest may prove quite challenging. This may delay or impair their      healing process.


  • Fat Relapse:      Though liposuction may sometimes be an answer to unhappy, obese, or      disproportionately overweight children, it does not guarantee permanent      results. It is difficult to maintain the diet and exercise regimen, and      they tend to continue with the same ‘care less’ living. Therefore, the      probability of the development of new fat pockets is quite high.

Some Alternatives to Child Liposuction

  • Right Lifestyle & Diet: The eligibility assessment of children for liposuction      primarily factors in obesity. However, weight problem can often be      controlled without undergoing any such traumatic surgery. Parents need to      intervene and strictly enforce a change in their child’s routine and      dietary requirements to reduce the undesired weight gradually and then      maintain the right one.


  • Growth Distribution: Surgeons advise against liposuction for people below age      18 years, because the body continues to grow until then. The child may be      temporarily overweight, but the excess fat may become proportionately      distributed as the body develops. According to studies conducted by The      American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), the      safety and the credibility of liposuction for children is questionable and      is definitely not recommended as a solution for obesity.


  • Fat Requirement: In      teenagers, especially girls, the super thin fad lures them towards      liposuction. To approach physical perfection, they want even the slightest      amount of visible fat removed. These children perceive liposuction as a      convenient answer to weight loss. They have a misplaced notion that it can      help them escape the trouble and boredom of daily strenuous exercise or      dieting. Doctors, on the other hand, strongly insist on a proper lifestyle,      and generally disapprove body-contouring surgery for people below 18 years      old.


  • Right Timing:      Doctors strictly advise against any form of body contouring surgeries in most      children. The body grows and stabilizes by the age of 18 years and can      then bear the stress of such surgery. The results are also better on a      mature body. If a child does undergo liposuction, she may regain the fat,      nullifying the effects of the surgery. Doctors  emphasize that children must have some      amount of healthy fat in the body for their normal development.

Other liposuction considerations

  • Medical Check-up:      Before choosing liposuction, the plastic surgeon must refer the candidate      and parents to a diet counselor and to a psychologist to complete      assessment the child’s physical and mental state. They recommend child      liposuction only after fully understanding the cause of the problem and      the youngster’s eligibility for it. To reiterate, consider liposuction of      a child only if it is extremely necessary.


  • Lifestyle Changes: If certain modifications in diet and activity can      bring about any change, then surgery should be avoided. The doctor must      draft a lifestyle and diet plan for the child, and parents need to ensure      that their children strictly adhere to it.



  • Counseling:      Counseling sessions can help children and their parents understand the      pros and cons of liposculpture and encourage the child to adopt natural      ways to fitness. It is very important for the child to understand that      they must exercise and eat a healthy diet for a fit mind and body. Doctors      and parents must stress the fact that there are no shortcuts to lose      weight. Starving and surgery may sound promising, but they may harm the      body in the long term.


  • Lipodystrophy or lipoatrophy: According to a study conducted by the Department of      Surgery, Plastic Surgery Division, Roberto del Rio Hospital, Clinica      Alemana and University of Chile Clinical Hospital School of Medicine,      Santiago, Chile, liposuction can reliably control the effects of an      adipose tissue disorder called lipodystrophy. Lipoatrophy, as it is also      called, is a medical condition in which adipose tissue is lost      disproportionately in one or more body parts, resulting often in skin      dimpling. The researchers conclude, “Liposuction and lipoinjection as sole      or combined procedures are safe methods for this pediatric population.      They are well tolerated, with a low rate of complication and satisfactory      aesthetic results.” [1]

Liposuction for children largely yields negative results. Associated with significant risks and side effects, it should be the last resort. Therefore, do read and seek expert advice before deciding to go in that direction.


1 PubMed, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine –