Can Fat Cells Regenerate?

Fat grafting dents from where the fat was taken seem to totally regenerate within 4 or 5 years, so doesn't that mean that fat cells do have regenerative capabilities?

Doctor Answers 11

Fat Cells Do Not Regenerate After Liposuction

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Once a fat cell is removed from the body, it will not regenerate or return. If, after liposuction, you gain a significant amount of weight, the remaining fat cells may swell. This could negate the good results you worked hard to achieve. In the case of small indentations from fat grafting, even gaining a small amount of weight could cause enlargement of remaining fat cells. Please see a board-certified dermatologist about how liposuction or noninvasive permanent fat-removal systems, such as CoolSculpting, Thermi and Vanquish, can help you.

San Diego Dermatologic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Smart Lipo and Fat Cells

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Fat cells cannot regenerate once they are removed by SmartLipo. In contrast, dieting decreases the fat content of the cells but does not remove the fat cells. SmartLipo actually removes the fat cells. Once they are gone they will never come back.

David Goldberg, MD
New York Dermatologic Surgeon
3.3 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

The beauty of liposuction

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We are all born with a fixed number of fat cells. These fat cells can swell with weight gain and shrink with weight-loss. The beauty of liposuction procedures is that the fat cells are removed permanently. They do not regenerate, or grow back. You are then left with fewer fat cells than before. The only way that people can then get "fat again", is that if you overeat, the remaining fat cells that you have left will swell up and make you look larger.

Also, it is a myth that "fat grows in other areas." What happens is that those other areas may appear proportionately larger than the areas where you have had liposuction.

Regarding fat-grafting (ie fat-injection or fat-transfer), it is important to realize that the transplanted fat can also "grow" with weight-gain and "shrink" with weight-loss. Thus, you can expect changes in your result depending on your overall weight.

Suzanne M. Quardt, MD
Palm Springs Plastic Surgeon

Fat indentation

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I have seen long term indentation from overresection of fat. Possibly collagen formation as a response to trauma, or hypertrophy, not hyperplasia (meaning enlarging size not quantity) could be responsible for the filling in of the indentation.

Contrary to what is commonly thought to be the case in the medical community, fat cells can grow in number if the body weight increases above 170% of the ideal body weight. I had come across that fact doing a medical literature search when doing my research in preparation for the book I authored on liposuction published by Penguin Putnam. I doubt this is responsible for your result as you did not mention that you gained significant amount of weight.

Ronald Shelton, MD
Manhattan Dermatologic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 39 reviews

Fat cells don't regenerate

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However, the remaining fat cells can enlarge with further weight gain. If women are pear shaped and then have liposuction to make them apple shaped, they will be a fat apple if they gain 30 lbs., not a fat pear.

Toby Mayer, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 38 reviews

Fat cells regnerating?

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Fat cells do not regenerate.  Patients ask what happens after liposuction whenyou remove fat cells. I will tell patients that if they gain weight, the fat cells that remain in the area may expand in size but fat cell do not regenerate.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Fat Grafting

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There is no such thing as regenerating fat cells. We are born with a certain amount of fat cells and that is it. The interesting thing about fat cells is that they can enlarge but not replicate. So it can get bigger with weight gain and smaller with weigh loss.

Hope that answers your question.

Farbod Esmailian, MD
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 88 reviews

Fat cells do not regenerate

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You are born with all the fat cells you will ever have. These cells get larger as you store more fat and get smaller as you lose weight. When fat cells are removed with liposuction as with removal for fat grafting, those cells are gone for good. It is probably that the dents you had immediately after the procedure were from post operative irritation. The fat cells left behind may also have been injured and not storing fat properly. I am guessing that the fat harvest did not remove a large volume of fat, so there are no permanent contour defects left behind.

When liposuction is done for shaping and contour reduction, more fat is removed and the number of fat cells in the area are significantly reduced. That treated area will never hold fat to the same degree.

Elizabeth Slass Lee, MD
Bay Area Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 56 reviews

Do fat cells regenerate?

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You are born with a certain number of fat cells and they do not regenerate. However, some cells could have been injured and recovered. The fat cells that ultimately remain can increase or decrease in size depending on whether you gain or lose weight. As Dr. Rand said, the surrounding cells can become "fuller". If your weight changed by even 1 pound, the surrounding cells could expand and seem to fill in the dents. This mechanism is also the reason why, after liposuction, you must maintain your weight. If you gain 5 pounds, the fat will be stored in the fat cells that remain and people will notice fat collections in areas that were never fat prior to the liposuction.

Hope this helps.

Tracy M. Pfeifer, MD, MS

Tracy Pfeifer, MD
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

Fat cells don't "regenerate"

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Once a fat cell is dead, it is dead for good. What might have caused your indentation to fill in is the plumping up of adjacent viable fat cells that were not injured in the fat cell harvest. Scars, in general, also remodel with time and this might have also played a role. But the fat cells didn't come back to life.

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.