Why Soldiers Are Turning to Liposuction

K. Mathews on 6 Jul 2011 at 9:00am

With intense workouts and a regimented lifestyle, soldiers are arguably some of the fittest people in America. As any medical professional can tell you, however, being healthy doesn’t always mean being rail thin. Unfortunately, the U.S. military doesn’t seem to agree, imposing strict size requirements on its enlistees. As a result, soldiers for whom these size expectations are unnatural are turning to plastic surgery in order to maintain their jobs.

Liposuction has become a last resort for "larger" service men and women. RealSelf member MarineMan explains that he got lipo “to keep within the size standards in the military.” Although he was nervous about the procedure, he still “needed to trim [his] gut and sides or risk failing the standards.” Fortunately, the lipo was successful and he is now able to continue to defend the country that he loves.

Another military poster named 8770anon shared a similar experience. While he didn’t appear too big in his uniform and excelled at the physical fitness tests, no matter how hard he worked out, he couldn’t lose his muffin top. (Sound familiar?) Consequentially, he was “flagged, meaning barred from reenlistment, promotions, awards, and any favorable actions for [having] one to two inches extra on [his] mid-section”. Undergoing liposuction provided him with an appearance that better matched his fitness abilities.

Liposuction is last resort for military standards

The Washington Post reports a similar story. The article profiles Sgt. Heather Sommerdyke who runs about 10 miles six days per week and has even starved herself to trim down. While she can pass every physical test the Air Force throws at her, after having a baby, she cannot slim her waistline down the extra inch the government requires.

Even though Sommerdyke’s total body weight is considered fine for her height, that extra width has driven her to spend over $10,000 on liposuction in an effort to save her career. Soldiers who fail the strict measurement tests are given time to tone their bodies, but repeated failures result in military discharges.

liposuction before and after photosThey also report that army bases feature advertisements for liposuction, which seems to unofficially condone turning to plastic surgery to trim down. While some may consider surgery a drastic way to address these waistline regulations, some soldiers instead resort to dangerous alternatives: laxatives, diet pills, and starvation. Our soldiers, especially those in war zones, should be alert and fed, not exhausted and hungry because they need to meet some arbitrary size requirement.

Liposuction is a great option for people who want a trimmer physique; should it be the only option for wider-bodied service men and women? Obviously, soldiers need to be in terrific shape to perform the duties at hand, but why do those who are deemed physically fit in every way, other than their size, have their appearance held against them?

What do you think of these strict military regulations?

Photo Credit: Michael Oh and USACE Europe District on Flickr