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Thomas P. Sterry, MD

“I heard that if you have liposuction and then gain weight, the fat will go somewhere else” – Oh My!

This is a topic that continues to come up time and time again.  I am continually asked not only what happens to liposuctioned areas with weight gain, but also what happens  to non-liposuctioned areas.  There seems to be a fear out there that if one has liposuction and then gains weight that other areas of your body might become disproportionately larger or even freakish.

First, let’s put this into perspective.  Liposuction is best performed on patients who are overall in pretty good shape, but just have an area or two that is stubbornly large.  The classic example is the woman who claims that if she loses weight, it comes off of her breasts, but her pear shaped bottom won’t budge.  I personally have trouble with my flanks.  It is very hard for me to lose that “spare tire”.  Now, if we suction these regions, there really isn’t all that much fat involved as a percentage of your overall weight or total body fat.

Next, we need to understand that the fat removed from those regions that are liposuctioned is pretty difficult to get back.  It just doesn’t seem to happen, and there is good science to help understand that phenomenon.  Basically, once fat cells are removed from an area, they don’t grow back.  You can gain weight in that region, but it requires the existing fat cells to divide and multiply – something that is quite debatable in the medical literature.

Finally, if you do consume more calories than your burn up during the day, well then  yes, you will gain weight.  However, this future weight should be gained in a much more evenly distributed pattern without the previous disproportionate deposits going to the liposuctioned area again.

So, the strict answer in my mind is yes, the fat will go somewhere else.  But you are not going to suddenly start developing fat forearms or earlobes!  Furthermore, the better question might be, “why are you gaining weight after having liposuction in the first place?”!

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Dr. Thomas P. Sterry

Thomas Sterry, MD, is a board-certified New York City plastic surgeon with over a decade of experience. At his inviting, boutique-style practice in Manhattan, he focuses on each patient's unique needs and aesthetic goals so that he can provide the most attractive and natural-looking outcomes possible.

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