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Liposuction has its drawbacks, says Colorado study

Drs. Robert H. Eckel and Teri L. Hernandez of the University of Colorado recently led a study that sought to clarify the long term effects of liposuction. They assigned a group of women to undergo liposuction as well as a control group to refrain from the procedure, then checked up on both groups regularly over the course of the next year. Surprisingly, each woman who had liposuction performed gained back all of the fat that was removed by the procedure.

The fat, however, did not return to the location from which it was removed, but instead was distributed throughout the upper abdomen and even the arms. The reason for the odd redistribution, says Dr. Klein, the director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the Washington University School of Medicine, may be that liposuction destroys the tissues beneath the skin that fat develops on, making it difficult or impossible for fat to re-accumulate at that site.

Obesity researchers say they aren’t surprised by the study’s findings. The body is protective of its fatty deposits, they say, and works to reproduce and maintain them if they’re removed or reduced. This is a fairly well known fact, and its ramifications have been stressing out dieters throughout the ages. “Gaining it back” is a pitfall that plagues all kinds of short-term diets.

The fact is that a person’s body is an accurate reflection of their lifestyle. Any weight lost through surgery or even a thirty day tooth-and-nail dieting effort is bound to return if the lifestyle that put it there in the first place isn’t turned around.

Do these findings spell trouble for liposuction? Hardly. They do, perhaps, illuminate the difference between corrective and preventative measures, and highlight the limitations of the former. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, Americans still underwent 200,000 liposuction procedures last year. That’s not all, either. Remember the University of Colorado’s control group? More than half of them opted for liposuction even after the results of the study came back.

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