I Read That Fat Cells Come Back After Liposuction and Tummy Tuck. Is Weight Loss Harder?

I'm considering a tummy tuck with liposuction. I read the results of a study that the fat cells redistribute after such procedures. My question is do these procedures make weight loss more difficult after surgery? Is there a correlation to the weight of the fat cells removed and weight gain after surgery? What is the optimum bmi of body fat procedure for a tummy tuck? Can Is it possible to achieve optimum results from a tummy tuck with out liposuction of areas such as the flanks?

Doctor Answers 17

Fat return after liposuction and TT

This is an FAQ.  Here's my spiel: 

  • The stuff removed with TT and lipo is mostly fat.  Find out the weight of the stuff removed from your surgeon.
  • Subtract that weight from your preoperative weight.  For example, you weighed 142 pounds preoperatively and the surgeon removed 4 pounds of stuff.  Your adjusted preoperative weight is now 138.
  • If you creep back up to 142, you have gained 4 pounds of fat and I don't know anyone who can say exactly where it "will go".  If you creep up to 152, you are unlikely to be happy with your postoperative result but it is not because the surgery failed.

Soooooo ....... don't use body contouring as a way to lose weight.  It's about shape, not pounds.

If you find an easy weight to win the battle of the bulge,  please let me know. 

I wish I had a dollar for every time we get this question.  I'd have a lot of $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$.

Seattle Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 63 reviews

Basic Facts on Tummy Tuck Surgery

1. The BEST Tummy Tuck results are obtained on women who are healthy, nonsmokers, who completed their familes and have BMI's under 29.

2. Fat cells do NOT appear in areas they were not present before a Tummy Tuck or Liposuction. If you do not maintain a low caloric intake (esp no carbs and no fats) and fail to engage in excercise you will gain extra calories which are converted into fat and are packed into EXISTING fat cells (those left behind after liposuction and or a Tummy Tuck). 

3. Weight loss is not hard after surgery. Weight loss is hard. Period. To lose weight you have to be disciplined and stop eating certain things. I think it becomes easier in many women after surgery because, in many, a flatter tummy  brought about by a Tummy Tuck brings them more self-confidence allowing them to go more frequently to the gym without being ashamed of their bodies.

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 97 reviews

Do fat cells come back after liposuction and tummy tuck?

Thank you for your questions.  

1.Your first question about fat redistribution is a very common question that patients ask.  There is a great number of both clinical and experimental studies that show that the fat does NOT redistribute following surgery. The number of fat cells and the distribution of fat cells is genetically determined.  

2.These procedures do not make weight loss more difficult after surgery.  It should be remembered that you must continue to exercise and watch your caloric intake after surgery.  Unfortunately, some patients feel that because they have had liposuction they can eat whatever they want and not have to exercise which of course is not true. 

3. There is no correlation to the weight of the fat cells removed and weight gain after surgery. 

4. The optimum BMI is the lowest BMI that you can obtain through a good nutritional plan and consistent exercise.  We would like to see your BMI below 25. 

5. If your problem is just the abdomen and not the flanks then you will not require liposuction.  I find in my practice however, that most patients who undergo tummy tucks also have extra fat in the flank.  This is an question that can be best answered after examination by a  board certified plastic surgeon. 

Donald M. Brown, MD
San Francisco Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

Fat cell redistribution after liposuction

Once puberty is done, the only thing you can do to fat cells is control their size. You cannot make new ones, and even before puberty you cannot move the fat cell sunless you do it surgically by injecting them into a new location. The “redistribution” of fat cells you have heard about is actually a plumping up of fat cells in other locations form too high of a caloric intake. The fat cells in liposuction are removed permanently, so any over-eating will force your body to find existing fat cells to plump up. There is no ideal BMI to achieve a good result, but the closer you are to a normal BMI and the better you can maintain it, the better your result will be long term.

Julio Garcia, MD
Las Vegas Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

Fat after liposuction and Tummy Tuck

We all have and always will have fat cell in our bodies. Fat cells can regrow after removal and they can also get bigger with fat storage accumulation. The amount of fat in our bodies is the result of how many calories we take in and how many we expend, along with some genetic factors regarding distribution. We all have different metabolisms which may account for the differences in fat accumulation even when we are taking the same numbers of calories.

A tummy tuck is almost always made better with liposuction except in fairly thin individuals. Although there may be some minor redistribution of fat the overall results should be a significant improvement in body contour.

John P. Stratis, MD
Harrisburg Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

Weight Loss after Tummy Tuck/Liposuction?

Thank you for the question.

I know of no study that suggests that weight loss is more difficult after tummy tuck and/or liposuction surgery. Some of the best results seen after tummy tuck/liposuction surgery are with patients who maintain a healthy diet and exercise regimen before and after surgery.  Some patience will report an increased incentive to maintain the healthy diet  and exercise program to maintain the results of their body contouring surgery.

In my practice I do not use BMI  numbers  but ask patients to reach a long-term stable weight prior to proceeding with body contouring surgery.

I hope this helps.

What happens to fat after tummy tuck.

There are three components to maximizing your results after plastic surgery.  First is good nutrition and balanced diet.  Second is regular exercise.  Third is picking the right plastic surgeon.  When you maximize your diet, exercise and surgery, you will maximize your results.  If you have surgery, but do not concentrate on a healthy lifestyle, then your results will not be as good.


Good Luck.

David Shafer, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 72 reviews

Tummy tuck, liposuction and weight loss

Tummy tuck will address the appearance of the front of the abdomen. Liposuction is added to the procedure when the flanks or love handles appear full. If your flanks are not full then liposuction is not required.  When liposuction is done in an area the number of fat cells is reduced. Fat cells have a large storage capacity and so weight gain will still occur in these preferred storage areas. Body contouring surgery does not make future weight loss harder and fat cells do not redistribute. More commonly contour irregularities in the area of liposuction will become obvious with significant weight gain.

The ideal BMI for all body contouring procedures is as close to 25 as you can get. Complications increase when the BMI is 30 and with the most significant complications occurring when BMI is over 35.

Discuss these concerns with your board certified plastic surgeon. I hope this was helpful

Robert W. Kessler, MD, FACS
Corona Del Mar Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 116 reviews

Fat Re-Accumulation After Liposuction and Tummy Tuck

Most of the time, fat does not re-accumulate after a tummy tuck and liposuction. However, it can re-distribute if you gain more than 30% of your body weight post operatively. The key is to incorporate life-long changes in Diet and Exercise after body contouring to make a life-long commitment to your long-lasting body rejuvenation.

Rod J. Rohrich, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

Fat cells and liposuction.

The fat cells removed from liposuction do not "come back." Fat cells have an amazing ability to store large amounts of fat. What happens following liposuction is that weight gain is typically seen in other non-liposuctioned areas. Losing weight after liposuction is the same as losing weight before liposuction. Weight gain is a fairly simple issue - eating more calories than you burn. Increasing your basal metabolic rate through exercise and altering how much and what types of food you eat via a healthy diet will burn fat regardless of it's distribution in the body. There is no optimal BMI for a tummy tuck and liposuction during a tummy tuck is typically for individuals with more fat and less laxity issues.

David Bogue, MD
Boca Raton Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 16 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.