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


 

Comments (11)

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Can anyone tell me if it's against regulation?
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Can anyone tell me if it's against regulation?
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I'm moderatley tall. I'm 5'11" and a smidge. I think that's just barely above average. But I have a large frame. You know how some fat people say "I'm not fat. I just have big bones."? Sometimes we do. I'm legitimately fat now. But when I wasn't fat, I was still big. The Navy says that for 5'11" and a half, you can weigh as much as 200 lbs. That doesn't matter how big you are or aren't. If you are frail-boned, you can carry a BUNCH of extra weight. If you are heavy-boned, you are screwed. I was actually pretty thin at 250-260. Now I weigh 310 and I'm almost as fat as they said I was back then.
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Yeah!Soldiers Are Turning to Liposuction so that Soldiers who fail the strict measurement tests are given time to tone their bodies, but repeated failures result in military discharges.It is so important to our military especially in our soldiers.this information helps a lot to our soldiers and also to our community.
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I can't believe it, never heard that, i think lose weight should do sports.
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Wow, I am so sorry to hear that you had to deal with that.  I don't understand why they want you to be at such a low weight.  What did they tell you Bard2dbone?  My friend is in the Navy and he is not skinny by any means.... but he isn't that tall.  If you are taller, or just larger framed you will be heavier.  The standards seem very misleading from what they tell you to get you to enlist.

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I'm ex-Navy. When I was in I was constantly on the weight control program. To enlist for my height, you could weigh 235, which is thin on my frame. As soon as I got into boot camp, they told me that was just to get in. Now you need to get to 200. I got down to 214 in boot camp. All my ribs stuck out and I got sick often. They said I was still too big. I exercised and got back into a healthier shape. I got to be about the same as when I played football in high school. So they kicked me out for being too fat. Obviously anyone who weighs 260 lbs at six feet must be morbidly obese, right? Isn't that exactly the phrase that comes to mind when you see someone whose waist is sixteen inches smaller than their chest? I was kicked out of the service in 1988 for being too fat. I had a 54" chest and a 38" waist. At my separation physical I weighed 262 and wouldn't jiggle if I'd jumoed up and down. These standards are not new.
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The size requirements seem like they are costing their military to lose a lot of valuable candidates.  Soldiers should not have to get liposuction to be part of the marines, for example, if they past the aggressive fitness requirements.  People come in all shapes and sizes, and someone considered "thick" can be completely in great shape.  One of my good friends cannot lose weight if her life depended on it... she looks great though!  She is toned, but just not a small framed person.  Running 10 miles a day, she won't drop a pound.  Would she pass a miliary physical endurance test... I'd bet money on it.

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I remember when the Navy first started with the "fail 3 and your out" (not the official name ;) rule. Many friends of mine as well as myself were glad because there are some grossly overweight/out of shape people in the Navy. Seeing something like the article above though is not what this protocol should be about. There shouldn't be a black and white here. There should be a gray area with a little common sense where each case should be handled by the local command and taken care of.
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Using a tape measure seems unfair because hip size is genetic, so a short person with a narrow waist could be overweight and still pass while a tall person with proportional hips could fail.  It sounds like the head of the Marines who tightened up the standards was worried more about the V-shaped torso image than real fitness.  I can say from personal experience that recovering from liposuction takes a long time for the swelling to go down.  It's hardly the quick fix that most people think it is, and I would encourage anyone in the military considering liposuction to pass the tape test to switch to a high protien, low carb diet. 

 

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So true, it is not a quick fix. However, it sounds like some that go through this process (like the girl in the WA Po article) have tried serious diet and exercise but still retain pockets of fat in the wrong places. 

I agree though, that you can't set one strict rule like that for everyone. I know people wider than myself who could out-fitness me. And likewise I know many people smaller than myself who are much weaker. Definitely not a one-size-fits-all situation. And it is WACK that soldiers feel the need to starve themselves to be "fit to fight." As K. points out, that is just backwards! 

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