You’d think that we would have learned by now that there is just no magic fix when it comes to weight loss. But we’ll never give up wishing and hoping, right?
A few recent studies have shown that even after liposuction (considered by many to be the ultimate quick fix), the fat manages to come back within a year. What’s more, it often returns in a more dangerous form – as visceral fat that attaches to and twines around the organs deep within your abdomen. While liposuction removes subcutaneous fat, the fat stored just below your skin, visceral fat is known to release biochemical substances that increase your risk for heart disease and diabetes.
So why is a plastic surgeon, who regularly performs liposuction procedures, telling you about this seemingly bad news? Because the studies also revealed some great news. Regular exercise after liposuction will actually keep the fat – both the good and bad kinds – away. This means that liposuction can and does work and that there is even more incentive for my patients to maintain a regular exercise routine, which is something I encourage them to do for their overall health.
One new study in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism was carried out in Brazil where 36 women of average weight underwent liposuction to remove 2-3 pounds of abdominal fat. None of the women regularly exercised before the surgery. Within four months of the procedure, half of the women had regained fat and had INCREASED their visceral fat by 10 percent above where it was BEFORE liposuction.
The other half of the 36 women, however, had been assigned to complete a supervised exercise program that involved 40 minutes of cardio three times a week and light weight training. And ta da! These women added no new fat, including no visceral fat.
Last year, a study at the University of Colorado Denver showed similar results. A story in the New York Times quotes Dr. Robert H. Eckel, who oversaw the study, as saying, “The message of our study is that body fat is very well defended.”
Dr. Eckel says that exercise after fat loss, whether by diet and exercise or liposuction, causes the brain to reset its sense of how much the body should weigh. In other words, the brain changes how much fat should be defended. Exercise also causes the body to view fat as fuel instead of as storage.
Both of these studies had too small of a sample set to be considered the gospel, but I’m sure more insights about how our bodies respond to liposuction and exercise will continue to emerge. For now, I believe it is essential for all patients, and especially liposuction patients, to establish an exercise routine for better overall health.