Can the Body Go into Starvation Mode After Liposuction?

My sister and I both had liposuction of the thighs and hips. We went to two different surgeons. We both had no visible results. I was small for one week (literally) and then the swelling kicked in and I never was small again. Her doctor told her that for a very few percent, Liposuction does not work at all. When fat is removed the body sees this as dramatic weight loss and goes into starvation mode. Is this true or possible? We both are pear shape, very naturally thick-thighed women, have always had a hard time with weight after having kids and on the same type of birth control, deprovera.

Doctor Answers 5

Metabolism shift after Liposuction is doubtful

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Without all the factors of you and your sister's medical history, it is hard to say. For starters, I suppose that the worry might be that the amount of fat removed might significantly affect the patients' metabolism to the extent that they do not have their usual reserves of energy. However, this seems a rather unlikely possibility as most surgeons are attempting to reduce fat in a few specific areas, and the amounts removed are unlikely to significantly reduce those energy reserves.

There are some cases of patients with diabetes being able to significantly reduce the amount of insulin they required, after having undergone liposuction, but I sincerely doubt that a person could have their metabolism shift so dramatically as to become ketotic (one of the phases of starvation).

Toledo Plastic Surgeon

Probably not enough fat removed from Liposuction

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The answer you received does not make sense. If fat was sucked out, then those fat cells are gone. Period. If you do not see a result, then perhaps not enough was removed, you didn't need any removal of fat, or you gained weight. In all likelihood, not enough was removed. Go see a new doctor.

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

I have never heard of this

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I have never heard of the body going to starvation mode after Liposuction, but I certainly don't know everything. I would be interested to see the source of his thoughts.

This is a creative theory

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To bluepenny,

Hi! I've never heard of this. 

Sound like the two of you need good revision liposuction. Go to a board certified plastic surgeon and ask to see lots of before and after pictures. There is no such thing as well-performed liposuction "not working".

George J. Beraka, MD (retired)
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon

This does not compute with me

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The body will go into "starvation mode" if it is deprived of adequate sugar, fat, and proteins for a period of time. Removing fat with liposuction will not cause a catabolic or starvation situation of the body. Besides, the fat to be liposuctioned is not very metabolically active (in other words, when you lose weight, do the thighs shrink a lot?).

Having said that, it is important to understand that the final result from liposuction may take up to a year or more to appreciate due to slow resolution of swelling.

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.