Liposuction: The Fat Cells That Never Let Go

by Judith J. Wurtman ,  Huffington Post | 2011-05-05

Since there is no magic pill that will make us thin, the next best thing seems to be sucking fat out of our bodies. No machine exists, yet, that passes a wand over our fat thighs, bellies and spare tire and vaporizes the offensive fat. Liposuction is about the best cosmetic surgery can offer, and its popularity attests to the effectiveness of the procedure in contouring bodies to our specifications, rather than the geography of our fat deposits.

But alas, liposuction has now been shown to be as impermanent as a quick weight-loss diet in keeping us thin. The New York Times recently described the results of a study published in the journal Obesity. Conducted last fall, the study revealed that that a year after liposuction removed fat, it came back. And horrors of horrors, it reappeared mostly in the upper abdomen, shoulders and triceps (the back of the arms).

The image is appalling and sounds like something out of a bad science fiction movie. The researchers explained that the fat did not appear again in the area from which it was removed because the fat cells there were destroyed. But, like water during a rainstorm seeking a dry creek to fill, the new fat being made by the body sought out fat cells in other parts of the body, often some distance away from the fat cells that had been sucked out. Presumably--and this is painful to contemplate--if one had liposuction in all the traditional areas where fat is usually deposited (and we all are familiar with those places), then the new fat might seek out fat cells in places where it normally doesn't go, including the face and head. "Fat head" might not just be a term of derision but also a description of new fat deposits.

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