Is It True That Fat Cells Will Migrate to Other Parts of Body After Lipo Even if the Person Does Not Gain Any Weight?

I totally got the scenario of how existing fat cells can grow if an individual gains extra body fat after lipo, any weight gain may result in the fat being stored elsewhere (untreated areas). But from what I read, the body requires certain amount of fat cells, so if fat cells were removed, they can cause fat cells to migrate to other part of the body whether the person gains weight or not. IS IT TRUE? if so, what benefit can one receives from lipo knowing this is a no win situation.

Doctor Answers 17

Do fat cells move after Liposuction?

 Fat cells are a storage compartment. If you take in calories that you don't burn that very second they are stored as fat. Fat cells don't replicate. We are born with a certain number of fat cells in certain locations and we keep the same number of cells throughout life. When we gain weight each cell gets bigger and we lose weight each cell gets smaller but we don't make new fat cells. Our problem areas have a higher concentration of fat cells than the normal areas next to them so we store more calories in the problem areas. The function of life of section is to decrease the concentration of fat cells in the problem there. And absolute perfect liposuction would leave an equal concentration of fat cells from head to toe. So if we gained weight we would gain weight evenly. It is not the best liposuction to take every fat cell from one area because then you condemn some other area to gain weight. If you took every fat cell from the abdomen back and flanks when you gain weight and may be in the arms, the face, the breasts or the buttocks. Liposuction is a rob Peter to pay Paul kind of surgery.

Miami Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 229 reviews

Fat Migration post liposuction

Hi cindymd.  Liposuction is a process by which fat is removed from various parts of the body with cannulas.  There is an overall reduction in the amount of fat cells in the regions that are treated.

Fat= storage medium for calories not burned by basal metabolic rate and activity level.  Fat cells do not increase in number, when there is excess caloric intake, they hypertrophy (grow) but do not multiply.  I do not know of any situation where fat cells migrate other than with fat grafting (something that we do on purpose!) 


What can happen with liposuction is that often times the areas that are suctioned are the areas where people are genetically predisposed to retain weight.  Once these storage depots are removed, your body will look for other places to stash excess calories.


As you get older, even with a constant weight, you lose lean muscle mass and bone density thus by staying at the same weight, you are technically having more fat present in your body because your bones and muscles are decreasing in mass.

This is a very rare scenario.  If anything, I often see people who have had contouring procedures (excision or lipo) who then gain weight and see fat in other areas of the body where they usually did not gain weight.


If there is fat migration post liposuction, it most likely represents weight gain.

Stephen M. Chen, MD
Richmond Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

Fat Migration after Liposuction?

     Liposuction in one area depletes fat cells in that area.  As a result, if a patient gains weight the fat will be stored in other areas of the body preferentially

Kenneth B. Hughes, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 492 reviews

Does fat migrate to other areas of the body after lipo even if we don't gain weight?

I do not believe that fat will migrate to other areas of the body if you don't gain weight, and I have not seen it do so after having performed liposuction for decades. However, with increasing age and hormonal changes, fat does redistribute whether or not you have had a liposuction. 

The best plant is to have a lipo, if you want and need one, and stay in good health, by eating healthfully and exercising. Also make an attempt to maintain normal hormone levels (bioidentical hormones) for someone about 35 years old. This will help you maintain muscle size, which burns calories even when you are asleep. Bone mass will also be preserved. 

We can't stop the aging process, but we can make every effort to slow it down, and that will help prevent excess accumulation of fat.

E. Ronald Finger, MD
Savannah Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 78 reviews

Fat Cell Migration after Liposuction

The situation you are describing is not true.  Liposuction permanently removes fat from the areas that are treated.  If you do not gain weight, you will not see an increase in fat elsewhere.  This is not a lost cause and if you have a problem area or two that you just can't seem to get rid of, liposuction is a great tool for improving your figure.  Good luck.

Sacha Obaid, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 133 reviews

Fat Cell Migration

As others have said, the answer is "no- fat cells do not migrate". This is the reason that it is so important to stay "in shape" and not gain weight after your body contouring procedure. If you do, the fat that could have gone to the previous areas that were liposuctioned will seek out another location. This has now been shown in studies. We do not get extra fat cell in life but only when we are growing in our younger years. That is another reason why childhood obesity is such a problem today for these individuals will have greater struggles all their life. 

Scott R. Brundage, MD
Grand Rapids Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 24 reviews

Fat Cells, Migration of fat, and Liposuction

Fat cells can't migrate.

However, if you ask the question "Can you gain volume in another area after liposuction, even if you don't gain any weight?", the answer is that it is possible. For most patients, this slight gain in volume in another area of the body will not be noticeable.

There have been studies looking at breast enlargement after liposuction of the abdomen (Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, 2007 April 15;119(5):1584-9). They DID show that a certain number of women gained volume in their breasts (about 40%). I don't know of any studies looking at other areas of the body - ie thigh enlargement after lipo of the abdomen. So, if you are worried about volume gain in your breasts, you should ask your doctor at the consultation. I wouldn't worry about gaining volume in other areas.

Jennifer Reichel, MD
Seattle Dermatologist
4.5 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

Do Fat Cells Migrate After Liposuction?

This is the most common topic plastic surgeons are asked about liposuction.  Patients will say things like "I hear that when you get liposuction and you gain weight it goes to other areas."  This is without a doubt NOT TRUE!  People gain weight where they are genetically predetermined.  If you get liposuction of your flanks but you normally gain weight in your legs then that is where the fat will go after liposuction.  Fat cells don't migrate.  It may look like you gain weight in other areas because the area that was treated is smaller. 

Christopher L. Hess, MD
Fairfax Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

Fat Cells Migrate after Liposuction Surgery?

Thank you for the question; it is a common one.
Liposuction surgery removes fat cells; the fat cells that are removed are permanently removed.  From this standpoint therefore, the results are permanent. However, if the patient gains weight the fat cells that remain in the area will grow.  Obviously, there may be relatively more fat cells present on other anatomic parts (these parts may grow relatively more when patients gain weight after the liposuction procedure).
I hope this helps.

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,487 reviews

Stability of Liposuctiom Results

The concept that fat cells shift and develop elsewhere if removed from one location, the so-called fat homeostasis theory, has never been proven scientifically when it comes to liposuction surgery. There are definitely anectodal reports of patients having some small accumulations of fat elsewhere after liposuction but it does not seem to be a consistent finding and not usually one of great aesthetic signficance if it does occur. The important concept to grasp when considering liposuction is that its long-term results are going to be most influenced by the stability of your weight. The 'permanency' of the procedure is profoundly affected by the participation of the patient's diet and lifestyle habits.

Barry L. Eppley, MD, DMD
Indianapolis Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 72 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.