After Liposuction, Does the Fat Come Back?

If you’re considering a little liposuction to create a more shapely silhouette, chances are you’ve also wondered if—once you’ve got the right contours—the fat will come back...


Teri L. Hernandez, MD, Robert H. Eckel, MD, and colleagues from the University of Colorado, decided to answer the question by examining (a) whether fat came back after it was removed and if it did (b) where it took up residence. So they carried out a randomized controlled trial of liposuction in 32 non-obese healthy female patients with extra fat in the lower abdomen, hips or thighs. They published their results earlier this year.

The women were randomly assigned to one of two groups: 14 who underwent small-volume liposuction of the thighs within 2 to 4 weeks (average BMI 24 kg/m2), and 18 to a control group (average BMI 25 kg/m2) who did not have liposuction (but who were offered liposuction after the study’s end).

All the measurements were taken before liposuction of the thighs and again at 6 weeks, 6 months and 12 months afterwards. The women agreed not to change their eating or exercise habits, while they were enrolled on the study.

The researchers compared the measurements taken over the 12 months and found that after 6 weeks, the percentage body fat went down by 2.1% in the liposuction group and only 0.28% in the control group, demonstrating a significant difference between the women who had liposuction and those who did not. However, at 6 and 12 months, the gap closed between the two groups and the fat reappeared, but not in the thighs. It showed up in the abdominal area.

The question is, why?

Experts suggest that the human body "defends" its fat, so if you try to lose it, it will find a way to bring it back.

But women in the liposuction group were very happy with their results—they didn't like having the fat around their hips and thighs and just wanted it gone. And more than half the women in the control group chose to have the liposuction after the study completed, despite knowing the results.

As Dr. Hernandez explained to Medical News Today, "We must emphasize that liposuction surgery is not a weight loss procedure. Our research participants are wonderful women who sought to change their shape through liposuction. Despite fat returning, their cosmetic shape benefit was retained and they have been very happy with their surgery results."