Liposuction is a common form of plastic surgery often used to spot-treat areas in which fat or cellulite disproportionately collects, impeding a patient’s ability to feel confident or even purchase off the rack clothing depending on the areas in which treatment would be helpful.
And while it sounds convenient (simply going under anesthesia and waking to find saddlebags or arm jiggle magically eliminated), experts say that an unhealthy “boomerang” effect may result from liposuction procedures.
As it turns out, liposuction is very good at what it is intended to do, which is remove fat from certain areas on the body where it is stubborn or difficult to remove, and the liposuction boomerang effect is another phenomenon entirely.
The liposuction side effect has to do with different kinds of fat- mainly visceral fat, which surrounds and inhibits organs, and subcutaneous fat, the fat that is normally targeted in liposuction procedures. The data on liposuction’s boomerang effect comes from a study out of Brazil in which women who underwent liposuction were divided into two groups.
All received liposuction on their abdominal area, but one group regularly exercised after surgery, while the other returned to a sedentary lifestyle. After six months, the women studied had not regained the weight, leading researchers to deem the liposuction “cosmetically efficient.”
However, the sedentary group had a 10% increase in visceral fat, which was the “boomerang” effect. The gains were in visceral rather than subcutaneous fat, and Lona Sandon, an assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern at Dallas, said to HealthDay:
“You oftentime have this snapback of the fats,” she said. “Sure, you can get rid of some of it with surgery. But if you don’t change your lifestyle, it doesn’t stay away forever. And certainly if you’ve spent all this money and incurred the risk of undergoing liposuction — and it’s not a risk-free option, by any means — why wouldn’t you want to do what you can to preserve the gain?”
Researchers were not sure exactly what caused the liposuction boomerang effect for the non-exercising group.