Liposuction is the most common cosmetic surgery in the U. S. with more than 450,000 procedures annually. Liposuction is heavily marketed as the easy alternative to diet and exercise for losing weight and body fat. But the painful, risky procedure has killed more than a few patients. Worse than that, a study has found that when the body fat is removed, the body simply replaces it in other areas.
Before and after photos on cosmetic surgery websites make liposuction look like a dieter’s dream come true. But in reality, the results of the expensive, painful procedure are only temporary. A new study conducted by doctors at the University of Colorado has found that fat suctioned out of test subjects returned in a year.
You can’t fool Mother Nature
Researchers assigned volunteers to two groups. One had liposuction performed on their thighs and lower abdomen. The other was a control group that did not undergo the procedure. The control subjects were promised liposuction at a discount after the study concluded if they so desired. For those who underwent liposuction, the fat removed from butts and thighs, according to results published in a recent issue of “Obesity,” was “redistributed upstairs.” The liposuction patients watched their fat make a comeback in the upper abdomen, shoulders and triceps. Strangely enough, they were still happy with the results of their liposuction and half the women in the control group went ahead with the procedure anyway.
Liposuction breaks up and sucks fat out of the body through an instrument called a cannula inserted under the skin. The death rate from liposuction is actually higher than that from traffic accidents. According to a survey conducted by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons of more than 1,500 plastic and reconstructive surgeons in January, 1999, the death rate of one in every 5,000 liposuction patients between 1994 and 1998 was much higher than anyone anticipated. “Tumescent liposuction” is the most common form of the procedure. Tumescent liposuction involves pumping several quarts of a saline/lidocaine solution under the skin to numb the site while the fat is sucked out. Some people have died undergoing tumescent liposuction. One patient in New York died of fluid overload. Surgeons pumped more than 13 quarts of solution into her breasts chest, arms, back, abdomen, thighs, buttocks and knees. The fluid collected in her lungs and she drowned.
The researchers conducting the University of Colorado liposuction study suggested that fat returns to other parts of the body because liposuction violently destroys the structure under the skin where fat cells live. They said that once fat is allowed to accumulate, the human body will defend it. When fat is sucked out through liposuction, even as little as a pound, it will find an area of the body not destroyed by liposuction and reemerge. Despite being aware of this fact, several of the women in the study control group weren’t daunted by liposuction and its aftermath.
Essentially, liposuction is a severe injury with excessive bruising and prolonged swelling. When the fat is sucked away, the raw tissue oozes serum. Body fluid rushes to the site and the damaged tissue soaks up the serum like a sponge. Powerful drugs are prescribed to kill the pain. Patients wear a pressure garment for at least three weeks that reaches from the mid thigh to the breast area to keep them from swelling up like the Michelin Man.