How Long do Liposuction Results Last?
If you’ve been looking at your options with liposuction, it’s likely you’ve seen promises that your results will be permanent. This can be an exciting prospect – after all, results are the goal of any cosmetic procedure. However, it’s also normal to feel like permanent results are too good to be true. Because cosmetic surgery is customized to your unique body and goals, the answer is almost always “it depends.” Making an informed decision starts with asking the right questions, so here’s what to know about liposuction, your results, and what you can expect for the long term.
It’s normal to have misconceptions about fat, despite working hard to get rid of it. While it seems reasonable to think that more fat equals more fat cells, this isn’t true. In fact, the amount of fat cells present in your body becomes static as early as your teenage years. Rather, when you gain weight, your fat cells expand to accommodate more fatty tissue. When you lose weight, they shrink. For this reason, it can be extremely difficult to lose fat in certain areas of the body – there are simply a set number of fat cells there, and they can be only be shrunk to a certain degree.
The theory behind liposuction, therefore, is removing the fat cells entirely so they can no longer expand with weight gain. This means you can achieve more defined contours – there’s less fatty tissue to expand if you gain weight later on. However, liposuction can’t remove every fat cell in the treatment area, so it’s still possible to see the area expand with weight gain. The good news is that it will likely stay in better proportion to the rest of your body.
The best way to make sure your results stay for the long term is maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle. In fact, one 2012 study found that women of a healthy weight who had two to three pounds of fat removed with liposuction retained their results after six months and a regular exercise regimen. However, a group of women within a healthy weight range who didn’t exercise regained their fat six months after liposuction. That’s because the fat gained during this time was visceral fat, or the fat that surrounds your organs in the abdominal cavity. This type can’t be treated with liposuction, and the only way to lose it is through regular exercise.
It’s not well understood why fat can come back as visceral fat after liposuction. Although the sedentary time during recovery can be a factor, it’s also thought that regaining fat is a mechanism your body uses to return to equilibrium after the abrupt changes that come with liposuction. Called the weight set-point theory, many believe that exercise helps transform your body’s state of equilibrium to its new “normal” after losing fat through liposuction. This helps the body reset itself and understand it doesn’t need to store visceral fat it thinks should be there.
The best way to learn more about liposuction and your long-term results is by meeting with Dr. Angelchik and discussing your options. To get started, we invite you to contact our Glendale office by calling or filling out our online form.