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HOW MUCH fat can be removed during liposuction?

Liposuction is a procedure that I do just about EVERY day I am in the operating room, which is 3-4 days per week.  And every time I do a case where a significant amount of fat is removed, I am amazed at HOW MUCH fat that liposuction can truly, permanently, irreversibly remove!

liposuction fat

The  image above shows liposuction cannisters filled with a majority of fat (the bright yellow fat rising to the top) and a small amount of “wetting” or “tumescent” fluid (the red liquid in the bottom).  This patient said “bye-bye” to over 6 liters of their fat.  Knowing that there are 2.2 pounds per kilogram, this patient lost at least 12 pounds of fat in only a few hours!

Liposuction is an amazing procedure, where fat cells are PERMANENTLY removed from the body, never to return. The procedure usually takes place under general anesthesia, as an outpatient procedure lasting  2-3 hours.  

I’m often asked by worried men and women new patients at their first body contouring consult: “But if I gain back weight, will the fat go elsewhere and will I look funny or deformed?”  The answer is NO!

Each of us is genetically programmed to store fat in certain regions of our bodies.  Some of us are “apples”, while others are “pears”.  Still others store fat in their necks, love handles, or in “saddlebags”.  Following a liposuction procedure, the fat cells that have been removed can never come back.  However, the remaining fat cells in those genetically programmed storage areas don’t know their fat cell siblings are missing; they can preferentially store energy in the form of fat if a major weight gain occurs later on.  This could theoretically result in the same areas storing more fat, with a similar outcome to the situation before surgery.

Therefore, as long as a regular routine of nutritious eating and regular exercise continue, the results will be life-long and permanent.  And most individuals who invest their time, energy and resources in a liposuction procedure are committed to maintaining a fabulous result!  

To learn more about liposuction, read other blog posts that provide an overview of liposuction techniques, a question-and-answer about liposuction, debunking myths about liposuction, and the benefits of liposuction as a method of permanent, surgical fat removal.  



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Dr. Karen M. Horton, M.D. - Plastic Surgery, Physicians & Surgeons - Medical-M.D., San Francisco, CA