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Michael C. Fasching, M.D.

Board Certified Plastic Surgeon


Liposuction: Where Do the Fat Cells Go?

Submitted by Dr. Fasching on Wed 10/03/2018 - 18:10

It’s hard to find someone who does not want to eliminate unwanted fat from their body. This fact is why liposuction is one of the most popular cosmetic surgeries performed today. Stubborn fat can be frustrating among patients who work hard to achieve a toned and tight body but have pesky fat pads remaining on certain parts of their body.

Many patients are turning to liposuction to achieve their body contouring goals. The benefits they experience are both physical and emotional which is why the surgery has become a popular procedure in the United States and around the world. It removes fat cells safely and effectively, and surgeons often combine it with other procedures like a breast lift, tummy tuck, or facial plastic surgeries to achieve optimal results.

Shoulders, upper arms, thighs, buttocks, ankles, knees, breasts and abdomen are areas which give many of our patients pause when they seek a slender and toned body outline. Liposuction is designed to eliminate excessive fat that diet and exercise fail to resolve. One question we often hear from patients who are considering liposuction is, “where does the excess fat go, and will it ever return?”

Liposuction Benefits Include:

  • Removes fat safely
  • A reduction of or improvement in cellulite visibility
  • Improved health associated with fat loss
  • Improved appearance and the way others see you
  • An increase in self-confidence
  • Improves body contours where diet and exercise have little to no effect

Liposuction is safer now more than ever because of advances in techniques and technology. Board-certified plastic surgeons are required to keep abreast of any new advancements in plastic surgery and are tested regularly to make sure they conform to the ever-improving technologies. This fact makes them the most qualified medical professionals to perform the procedure and reduce its risks.

Why Have Liposuction?

Your decision on whether to have liposuction or not should come after consulting with a board-certified plastic surgeon. Together, you will explore if liposuction is right for you. The surgery treats various cosmetic and health issues including:

  • The cosmetic effects pregnancy has on your body
  • Treats Lipomas (benign fatty tumors)
  • Reduces excess fat in difficult areas like chin, neck, and face
  • Lipodystrophy (fat metabolism issues in the body)
  • Fat pad reduction in target areas of the body
  • Body contouring to achieve optimal body shape and reveal toned and taut muscles (like six pack abs)
  • Improve body appearance for professions which need to look their best (like modeling or acting)
  • Ideal body sculpting results

Results of liposuction should:

  • Cause the least amount of discomfort and bruising
  • Have little to no effect on adjacent tissue
  • Maintain proper fluid balance for the patient
  • Remove an optimal amount of fat

What Does the Procedure Involve?

After your consultation, you and your surgeon will decide on which areas need treatment and what type of liposuction your surgeon should perform. This knowledge will determine the incision location and amount of fat to target for extraction.

During the procedure, an antibiotic will be administered before surgery to reduce the risk of infection. Your surgeon will also mark your body to outline the treatment areas and will take photos as well. Then your surgical team will prep your body for surgery with a sterilization solution like Betadine and administer an anesthetic. A local or general anesthetic is determined by the technique your surgeon employs. An IV with fluid may also be utilized to ensure your body’s fluid level remains safe during surgery.

After your anesthesia takes effect, an incision will be made in the target area where a small device called a cannula will be inserted to prepare and extract your unwanted fat cells. You may feel a slight sensation as the cannula is doing its work.

The procedure is an out-patient surgery which allows you to go home after a brief observation period. You should have a responsible adult accompany you to the surgical center to bring you home and help you once you get there.

What Happens with the Fat Cells and Can They Return?

Once the fat cells are removed they are gone for good. Fat cells are not capable of regenerating, so once extracted, you don’t need to worry about them ever again. The body contouring results are permanent although weight gain is still possible as is an increase in fat. The difference is, with less fat cells in the treatment area, there is no change in the contour if there is a weight gain. The remaining fat cells will increase in size causing the target area to increase as well.

To make sure your liposuction results remain, you should follow a healthy lifestyle regimen which includes a healthy diet and regular exercise.

What Happens if Your Weight Increases After Liposuction?

There are three scenarios which may happen if you gain weight after liposuction. They are:

  • You’ll gain weight all over your body
  • You’ll gain weight in another part of your body
  • You’ll gain weight in the treatment area

Although the third option is not common because it’s hard to gain weight in an area treated by liposuction, it can happen which is why you should follow a healthy lifestyle regimen. Eating right and getting enough exercise is important for everyone, but more so if you want to maintain your liposuction results. Remember, liposuction is not a substitute for a healthy lifestyle.

Lifestyle Habits to Follow to Maintain Results

Here are some great habits to develop so you can enjoy your results for a lifetime:

Stay Active

Clinical studies indicate fifty percent of liposuction patients gain two to three pounds of the belly fat removed six months after liposuction surgery. The other half maintained their results because they became more physically fit than before the surgery. This fact reveals the importance of physical activity after liposuction.

The trick to finding what works for you is to find something you enjoy which keeps you physically active. Some patients don’t like jogging but love cycling. These patients should invest in a good bike and find ways to get on it regularly. Find cycling groups who do cross country events regularly. Initiate a training schedule or commit to a time every day to ride a certain number of miles.

For the patients who enjoy running there are many events like 5K races which are fun and will not take much training. If you don’t like to run but enjoy walking, you can walk these events as well. The important thing is to make it a regular practice in your life. Have a time and place (or places) you can commit to, so you can stay active year-round.

Many local health clubs have workout classes or boot camps you can join and enjoy. Many patients find these more rewarding and forge friendships and workout partnerships.\

Watch What You Eat

In our culture, eating badly is easy and can become prominent in our lifestyle choices. Everyone has an Achilles heel when it comes to eating poorly like fast food, unhealthy snacks, or sugary drinks. But nothing is more important than a healthy diet to maintain your optimal weight. Nutritional plans are easy to come by and easier to follow once you have committed to them. Whether they are low carb high protein or Ketogenetic, find something you can stick to and reward yourself now and again with food you struggle to avoid. You’ll find you will look and feel better in the long run. Here are some suggestions we recommend to keep your results slim and sleek.

  • Cut down on the carbs like bread, pasta, and rice
  • Eliminate sugar and unhealthy fats like vegetable oil
  • Let healthy vegetables dominate your diet
  • Eat proteins like beef, pork, and fish
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Don’t skip meals and remember to eat breakfast every day

Most patients find the easiest way to lose weight is to limit carbs in their daily food intake. They also eliminate sugars like fruits high on the glycemic index, fruit juice, flavored yogurt, milk, beer, molasses, syrup, honey and white or brown sugar.

They avoid starches like potatoes, parsnips, peas, corn, carrots, beans, and rice, and foods like crackers, bagels, muffins, bread, flour, and cereal.  They load up on salad greens, squash, peas, radishes, cabbage, artichokes, and asparagus.

Make Sleep a Priority

Researchers found patients who have a regular sleep routine will have lower body fat percentages than those who have irregular sleep habits. A ninety-minute variance in sleep duration can have a huge impact on how much fat a body will store.

Women who get less than 6 ½ hours of sleep or more than 8 ½ hours of sleep are linked to higher body fat percentages. Those who fall between these metrics have better results of fat indexes regularly.

To learn more about removing unwanted fat deposits, call Dr. Fasching today at (763) 577-7500 or schedule a consultation.