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Liposuction and Weight Loss

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Beauty related image Photo: Getty Images

Most know that liposuction is not a tool for weight loss. It’s common knowledge nowadays that while it works well for body contouring, it’s not a way to generally shed pounds.

However, the role of liposuction is still not clear to everyone. If you browse popular question and answer sites such as Yahoo! Answers, Real Self and others, you’ll see questions like these about liposuction:

* How much weight can I expect to lose?
* How many pounds will lipo remove from my abdomen?

* What is the maximum volume of fat that can be suctioned?

Unfortunately, the world of Internet marketing, being what it is today, articles on cosmetic surgery procedures like liposuction sometimes get published simply as a vehicle for broadcasting links to a cosmetic surgeon’s site. Occasionally misinformation will be carelessly spread by such articles, like this tidbit that appeared in an Internet article on the last day of July:

Another form of weightloss surgery is liposuction…

Let’s refer to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) to set the record straight:

Liposuction surgery is not a treatment for obesity and is not a replacement for regular exercise and good eating habits. People with stubborn areas of fat who exercise regularly are the best candidates for this procedure(ASPS 1).

Some cosmetic surgeons offer what’s known as “high volume liposuction,” in which more than 4 liters (think of those large soda bottles) is removed. Many argue that the procedure is safe when extra safety measures are observed (Gabriel and de la Torre 1). There are, however, numerous potential risks associated with performing the procedure on a significantly overweight patient, such as excess bleeding and blood pressure issues. Many plastic surgeons do not favor high volume liposuction for these reasons (Placik et al 1).

Even if a patient could safely eliminate dozens of pounds through liposuction, improved health might not be the result. An article published several years ago in Science Daily reported on University of Washington School of Medicine research showing, even after high volume liposuction, diabetes and heart disease risks remained about the same for the obese women studied. The researchers surmised that the subcutaneous fat that liposuction removes does not pose the same health risk as visceral fat deep inside the abdomen that surgery can’t touch (Science Daily 1).

If you’re still not convinced that liposuction is not the way to lose weight, consider a more recent study by two medical professionals from the University of Colorado. Their finding - liposuctioned fat tends to return in other areas of the body - set the news wires buzzing last month (University of Colorado 1).

If you are considering liposuction, let it be for the purpose suggested by the ASPS:

Liposuction surgery can be used to treat stubborn fat pockets in many parts of the body including the thighs, arms, neck, hips, waist, back, inner knee, chest, cheeks, chin, calves, and ankles (ASPS 1).


Layla. Surgical Weight Loss Options. News by Company. July 31, 2011. Web. July 31, 2011. http://www.newsbycompany.com/post/view/7100/Surgical-Weight-Loss-Options/

ASPS. Liposuction Procedure. Thousands of Member Surgeons, One High Standard. Web. July 31, 2001.

Gabriel, Allen and de la Torre, Jorge I. Large Volume Liposuction Safety and Indications Introduction and Reference. MedScape Reference. Updated January 14, 2010. Web. July 31, 2011. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1272958-overview

Placik, Otto Joseph et al. Large Volume Liposuction? RealSelf. Web. July 31, 2011. http://www.realself.com/question/large-volume-liposuction1

Science Daily. No Medical Benefit From Liposuction: Diabetes And Heart Disease Risk Is Unchanged After Fat Is Removed. June 17, 2004. Web. July 31, 2011. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/06/040617082351.htm

University of Colorado. News from across CU: Anschutz Medical Campus. University of Colorado Faculty and Staff Newsletter. May 18, 2011. Web. July 31, 2011. https://www.cusys.edu/newsletter/2011/05-18/campus-amc.html

Reviewed August 2, 2011
Edited by Shannon Koehle
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.

Add a Comment4 Comments

Nice post.Most people don't realize what they consume each day. So many overweight people eat thousands of extra calories and fat without realizing it. It’s tough to know if you are gaining weight or losing weight each day unless you are keeping an eye on what you’re consuming. The natural weight loss methods are more reliable but due to busy life weight loss pills can be option for quick weight loss.but before doing anything must take doctors advice.
weightloss surgery

April 12, 2013 - 8:52pm

Thanks for your article!

I think the role of liposuction is not clear to everyone because it is so constantly advertised as a weight loss surgery. It's for the average woman looking to get rid of the little pooch, or remove 5 lbs from an area where she has more fat than desired.

So many people make the mistake of assuming that they'll go in for lipo and come out looking like Barbie only to be disappointment for throwing out thousands of dollars on something that's barely noticeable. So, thank you Cathy for clearing up the big misconception-- I hope people take the time to read this and learn.

Best Wishes,


August 16, 2011 - 8:58am
EmpowHER Guest

For me, Liposuction would be my last option if still i can't lose weight. My first option, still the natural ways. Regular Exercise and Proper Diet. For those big fat girls and boys, who not appreciate these ways, you must inspired for those contestants in Biggest Loser Edition and serve as your role models. My second option would be taking weight loss supplement. There's a lot of good supplements today that promote weight loss with no side effects like the well-known supplement today, the Slender Factor. And for my last option.. the LIPOSUCTION.

August 16, 2011 - 2:55am

Great article! I was just saying to coworker yesterday how shocked I am at the way liposuction is marketed on Twitter. Even doctors who might tell a patient face-to-face that lipo is not for weight loss, will Tweet things like "Tired of excess fat? Lipo is rapidly advancing..."

August 3, 2011 - 12:37pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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