Summary: You only get so much fat in your life. So is liposuction permanent? Will you end up gaining that fat back in a few years? Well, it’s an interesting question. Because, on the one hand, the area that was targeted by liposuction will never grow fat the same way it did before. But the rest of your body will. So liposuction is permanent, but it doesn’t mean you’ll never gain weight again. It just changes where you’ll gain that weight. We can take a quick look as to why that is.
How Permanent is Liposuction?
There are so many so-called “fat loss solutions” out there that it’s difficult to keep them all straight. Yet, the one we’re talking about today isn’t even a fat loss solution, really. It’s a body contouring option. That doesn’t stop patients from asking: how permanent is liposuction? That’s because liposuction has something of a reputation when it gets rid of fat, and patients want to know if that reputation is correct.
Most surgeons will tell you that liposuction results are permanent. The fat that is removed will stay removed. But that phrasing doesn’t really do the effect justice. Let’s put it like this: if you have fat removed using liposuction, it’s never coming back–even if you gain weight in other areas of your body.
That’s why the permanence of fat removal using liposuction is an important factor for many patients thinking about this procedure. Asking your surgeon, how permanent is liposuction, is a good start. Because only your surgeon will know the exact locations of your procedure, how much fat is being removed, and so on. Determining how permanent your liposuction will be can help you determine how to best maintain your results moving forward.
Body Contouring, Not Weight Loss
Let’s start off by ensuring we make this point clear: liposuction is designed for body contouring, not for weight loss. If you’re looking for a way to lose a significant amount of weight, surgeries that are more appropriate include gastric bypass or other bariatric surgery. Liposuction is usually used on patients who have already achieved an ideal–or at least stable–weight.
That’s because some fat just doesn’t go away. No matter what you do in terms of diet or exercise, it’s just not going anywhere. So in order to get the body you want, sometimes liposuction is necessary. Modern liposuction is great at creating natural-looking contours, so no one will ever ask if you got surgery–they’ll just mention how good you look. That’s the theory, anyway.
But that’s what makes liposuction such a great body contouring tool. It preserves the curves and lines you want and diminishes those you dislike.
Why is the Fat Loss so Permanent?
Liposuction is a pretty straightforward procedure:
- A small incision is made (only a couple cm in length)
- A tube with suction on the end of it, called a cannula, is inserted beneath the skin
- Using a back and forth motion, surgeons will suction out the unwanted fat from the target area
The permanence of liposuction comes not so much from the procedure itself, but from the way that fat behaves in the human body. See, once you hit adulthood, you have a permanent number of fat cells. You don’t get anymore. (When you gain weight, you simply store more energy in those finite number of fat cells–making them larger.) Liposuction functions by removing fat cells from the body.
Once those fat cells are removed, they do not grow back and they aren’t regenerated. That’s why liposuction is permanent. And that’s why most surgeons ask that liposuction patients achieve a stable weight before surgery.
What Happens if You Gain Weight?
Gaining weight after a liposuction procedure can significantly diminish your results. In large part that’s because bodies gain weight in unpredictable ways–and they can no longer gain that weight in the area targeted by liposuction. This can lead to some problems:
- Patients could gain weight in unexpected ways
- The contours that surgeons created will remain, but the proportions might not
- Patients might not like their proportions at a larger size
For some, preserving those proportions no matter what weight you might be is ideal. For other patients, weight gain will diminish the results of the liposuction procedure. It’s important to note that simply because the target area will not gain weight (at the same rate as the rest of the body), all areas in which you have not received liposuction will respond normally to weight gain.
Talk About Results With Your Surgeon
Before you undergo a liposuction procedure, it’s always in your benefit to go through a series of “what if”s. What if you gain weight? What if you lose weight? What if you gain weight ten or twenty years from now? Asking those questions will grant you a much better idea of what your liposuction results will look like years down the road.
Is liposuction permanent? Yes–it might be more effectively permanent than many other plastic surgery procedures. That’s largely because of how your body creates and stores fat. Find out more by talking to your plastic surgeon.