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Question: Will my fat grow back after liposuction, or will it grow back on another part of my body?

I often get asked by patients interested in liposuction if fat will show up elsewhere on the body after getting liposuction. I also get asked if the fat will grow back!

In order to answer this question, lets hash out the development of fat cells. In the first year of life, individual adiopocytes (fat cells) triple in size. At 1-5 years, the fat cells continue to both enlarge and multiply. When we are teenagers, fat cells grow without significant weight gain. And then finally at adulthood, no new fat cells form (except in the morbidly obese) and the ultimate number of cells remain stable. This defined number of fat cells can become larger or smaller in size.

What is liposuction?

The first description of liposuction can be traced back to Dujarrier in the 1920s. It was popularized in Europe by Drs. Yves-Gerare Illouz, Pierre Fournier, and Francis Otten in the 1970s. Since that time, there have been key advancements such as the introduction of blunt cannulas and fat removal using negative pressure (suction). Liposuction is a procedure that directly removes fat cells in a specific area by using a specialized cannula (thin surgical tube) connected under vacuum to essentially “suck out” the fat cells (lipoaspiration). Liposuction reduces the total number of fat cells that you have in a certain treated area of the body. Once these fat cells have been removed, they cannot grow back (remember as an adult no new fat cells can form!). However, if you were to gain weight, it is possible for the fat cells to enlarge in both the treated and non-treated areas of the body, which could give the illusion that the fat is growing back or the fat is showing up elsewhere on the body. Similarly, if you lose weight, the fat cells in the treated area will become smaller, but also the fat cells everywhere else on the body will become smaller.  So, the answer is that areas treated with liposuction will not have fat that magically appears there, or shows up on another part of our bodies.  The key for patients to optimize long-term results is to maintain a sustainable healthy lifestyle that allows for a stable weight.