Does Liposuction in One Body Area Make Another Get Fatter?

The Mayo clinic posted the statement that "It's possible that if you remove fat cells from one area with liposuction, you may gain less weight in that area, but you'll gain more in another area of your body."

Have you seen this with your patients? Please explain!!

Doctor Answers 19

Liposuction does not make other body areas get fatter.


This is such a distortion that it upsets me. The bulges treated with liposuction are permanently corrected. If you put on weight afterwards, it does not go into your old bulges, but it has to go somewhere. So it is evenly distributed throughout your body. This obviously does not mean that liposuction CAUSED fat to go elsewhere.

Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

This concern has been voiced before

There have been many concerns raised about whether removing fat from one part of the body would cause there to be more gained elsewhere to compensate for the fat loss and maintain some sort of fat equilibrium. While one can make theoretical and biological arguments for this, in real practice for over 20 years I have never had a patient complain that this has happened.

Richard P. Rand, MD, FACS
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 67 reviews

Fat will find its way

If you have a stable weight, you should not gain weight in strange places after liposuction.

If you gain weight, that fat has to go somewhere. If the patient gains a lot of weight, that fat will go literally everywhere, including even the areas that had liposuction.

The areas that received liposuction will be relatively protected against small weight gains; it is usually the trouble spots that get the most attention at the time of surgery.

Patients need to be just as vigilant about their weight after undergoing liposuction.

Brent Moelleken, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 177 reviews

Liposuction permanently removes fat cells

Liposuction is permanent removal of fat cells -- but the fat cells that remain behind can increase their size by up to 16 times!

Under normal circumstances the fat cells that are removed will never grow back.

Your body is genetically programmed to store fat in certain areas and to absorb fat from certain areas when you need it for energy. Having liposuction may or may not change these areas of preferred storage and utilization.

As long as you maintain your good diet and exercise habits after liposuction you should not have a problem.

Richard H. Fryer, MD
Salt Lake City Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 271 reviews

Liposuction is permanent targeted weight loss

Unlike many of the exercise infomercials you may see liposuction is targeted permanent fat loss. We can treat specific areas and permanently remove fat cells (fat cells do not have the capacity to grow back).

The concept you are referring to has to do with the bodies distribution of stored calories into fat reserves. The concept of the non-treated areas becoming larger or the fat cells getting larger is one that makes sense from a biological standpoint - if you have a fixed number of fat cells and you have removed cells from one region... if you gain weight the other fat cells must compensate.

In our San Francisco area practice we have not seen this in our post liposuction patients.

I hope this helps.

Steven H. Williams, MD
San Francisco Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 49 reviews

Even distribution is more likely

I personally did not see this in my own patients. Liposuction should decrease the fat load in certain areas of the body. If there is weight gain, the fat will be evenly distributed. Because of the previous liposuction other areas might appear large. I my own patients I have seen some patients presenting few years after liposuction with weight gain. It mainly manifested in an even distribution of fat.

Hisham Seify, MD, PhD, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

Never personally seen this

In my consultations with patients, I often hear this concern; but in practice, I have never actually seen this occur. In general, if you maintain a healthy lifestyle and weight after your procedure, your results will endure; but if you gain a significant amount of weight, you will notice it has been gained proportionally throughout your body, even in the areas of liposuction.

Shahram Salemy, MD, FACS
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 149 reviews

If your weight remains stable, you will not gain weight in other areas after liposuction.

Patients frequently ask this question, as it is a common concern raised in online chat rooms as well as cocktail hour paries. Liposuction removes fat cells from the area that is being treated. We have been in practice in the Santa Rosa, California area for 17 years and, in our experience, we have never seen fat accumulate elsewhere unless the patient puts on a significant amount of weight ( i.e., more than 10% of their nody weight). Liposuction remains safe and effective. We also offer laser liposuction with the Smartlipo MPX in our Sonoma County location. We have found that the laser can help with skin tightening in the appropriate patients.

Francisco Canales, MD
Santa Rosa Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 35 reviews

Permanent Fat Removal?

Thank you for the commonly asked question.

Fat cells that are gone (for example removed with liposuction surgery) are gone forever.  However, if a patient gains weight the fat cells that remain in the area treated with liposuction and in areas that were not treated will grow.  Do your best to maintain a healthy weight  after your procedure.

I hope this helps.

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,488 reviews

If you gain weight, you may feel it in new areas

When you get liposuction of a problem area, you are removing fat from an area that has disproportionate amounts of fat deposited . After liposuction, you no longer have that one area of extra fat - you just have the same amount of fat everywhere. If you do gain fat after liposuction, it will be evenly distributed. The problem here is two-fold.

First problem: Before liposuction, gained weight would mostly go to your problem area and nowhere else. Now that your fat is evenly distributed, if you gain fat it will go everywhere evenly and this includes areas that you didn't gain weight before.

The biggest problem: If you are used to gauging your weight on the size of your problem area, you will get into trouble because as it gets bigger you are getting bigger everywhere. By the time you see your problem area back to the way it used to be you will have gained alot of fat in other places!

Example: If you have a problem area of the outer thighs and you get liposuction of the outer thighs, your pants will fit better and you will be happy. If you gain weight, but your thighs don't look bigger, you may not notice. If your thighs would have been pushing out those pants at 5 lbs of weight gain you may notice the waist getting tighter before you realize that you've gained 15 lbs!

Thomas T. Nguyen, MD
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
3.9 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

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.