Obesity and Fat Cells

1. Can liposuction be used to treat obesity?

Liposuction is not intended to treat obesity. Liposuction should not be used for significant weight loss. Experience has shown that large volume liposuction increases the incidences of serious complications. Removing more than 10 pounds of fat in one day is not considered safe. Patients should be near their ideal weight before liposuction.  Obese patients tend to regain the weight. Liposuction is no substitute for diet and exercise and will not provide the long term benefits obese patients desire.

An overweight person who has successfully lost weight and maintained a healthy weight for many years may be a good candidate for liposuction. The goal of liposuction is to remove excess fat in trouble spots. It is not an all-over weight loss treatment.

2. Are some localized areas of fat resistant to diet and exercise?

Yes. Fat deposits in certain areas are very difficult, if not impossible, to eliminate through diet and exercise. These areas might include under the chin, hips, and abdomen, particularly after pregnancy.

3. Is localized fat hereditary?

Often, localized fat deposits are inherited and impossible to eliminate through diet and exercise. As people age, they gain fat in certain areas that are determined by their genes. Liposuction is an effective method to remove these stubborn fat deposits and re-sculpt the body’s shape.

4. Does weight gain affect the total number of fat cells in the body?

When a person gains a large amount of weight, new fat cells form. With small weight fluctuations, the existing fat cells may shrink or grow. At a certain point they cannot grow anymore and new fat cells will form. New fat cells are formed from fibroblasts. While new fat cells form with significant weight gain, existing fat cells do not disappear when a person loses weight. Fat cells may shrink but they will not necessarily disappear. Liposuction actually removes fat cells. If a formerly obese person undergoes liposuction, the surgeon will probably remove the same number of fat cells as they would have if the patient had not lost the weight. However, liposuction is not recommended for obese people so it is still best that patients be close to their ideal weight when undergoing liposuction.