The Chances of Fat Relapse after Liposuction

If planning to undergo the plastic surgery, you may be wondering about the chances of fat relapse after liposuction. In fact, anybody thinking of taking up any aesthetic surgery wishes to know how long the changes will last. However, just like any medical area, there is no explicit answer (yes or no) about the chances of fat relapse after liposuction. This implies that the effects may or may not be permanent. Let us begin our discussion with the fat storage in the body.

Understanding the Fat Storehouses of the Body

The fat cells are present beneath the skin (the internal layer) and above the muscles. These cells are flexible in dimension and hold the fat bodies. The fluctuation in the sizes of fat cells determines their ability to accommodate fat bodies, which results in weight gain or loss. The fat cells are genetically distributed in our body and therefore, we have certain well-fixed fat pockets, resistant to exercise and diet plans. These rigid zones are the key targets of liposuction. Please note that the liposuction procedure is not a treatment for obesity. It also does not help with cellulite or stretch mark reduction. Liposculpture just shapes the body areas experiencing ‘slight,’ stubborn fat deposits.

Ideal Body Weight Post Liposuction

The formula for an ideal body weight after the plastic surgery:

Ideal body weight post liposuction = body weight just before liposuction – weight of the fat removed

Liposuction and Fat Relapse

An inactive lifestyle and unhealthy eating habits lead to fat deposit in any case, normally or even post liposuction. In the lipo process, the surgeons permanently remove only the required amount of fat cells and not all of them. Now, in the untreated body areas, the fat cells are denser than in the treated ones. Accordingly, the untreated parts have a higher tendency to gain fat than the treated ones. Therefore, liposuction just reduces the tendency of fat gain and does not omit it. The procedure is not an insurance against any future fat deposit.

The Physiology of Fat Relapse

During gain in weight, the connective tissues undergo differentiation to form immature fat cells called lipoblasts. To hold the large amount of fat coming from the food and with increasing obesity, these lipoblasts mature to proper fat cells called lipocytes. Now, in the case of a slight weight gain after lipo suction, the size of fat cells increases to accommodate more fat bodies from the food. The number of fat cells stays the same. However, in the case of over 10-12% weight gain, new fat cells may form anywhere in the body, including the treated areas. The proportion and the probability of new fat cell formation is lower in the sculpted area.

Factors Affecting Fat Gain

Obesity is mostly an aftermath of an excessive consumption of trans fats, refined/processed food items, dairy products, including pasteurized milk, & alcohol. Any type of stress also crucially triggers the production of the fat storing steroid hormone cortisol (from the adrenal gland)s. Apart from the eating and living habits, numerous other influences include hormonal imbalance due to any physiological or biochemical dysfunction, gender, age, and genes. Therefore, these factors also govern the chances of fat relapse after liposuction.

Confirmatory Researches

A recent research conducted by Dr. Teri L. Hernandez and Dr. Robert H. Eckel at the University of Colorado School of Medicine[1], claims that the fat regains within a year of surgery. It redistributes itself to the other body areas, like the upper abdomen, the shoulders, and the triceps (arms). The finding confirmed the hypothesis that the body ideally does try to maintain a certain amount of overall fat. This process has some precise mechanisms, which are still being studied by medical science. In addition, the research at the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) 58th Annual Meeting[2] concludes that regular and rigorous exercising may significantly control the fat gain, thereby reducing the chances of fat relapse after liposuction.


1 University of Colorado Faculty and Staff Newsletter:

2 American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)