Opinion: “With Liposuction, the Belly Finds What the Thighs Lose”

I apologize in advance for the late post; i accidentally posted to TED instead of Medium!

Last week in class we had quite the interesting article by New York Times (Kolata) about liposuction. More specifically how the body responds to the sudden loss of fat cells. I was drawn to the article probably because I am from South Korea which is one of the plastic surgery capitals of the world and known for its prevalence of surgery clinics in every city. The article addresses a recent study that showed that when non-obese women were assigned liposuction on thighs and lower abdomen (with controls given the choice to get liposuction when the study was over), the fat came back. In fact, ALL of the fat came back within in a year, not back on the thighs from where they started but “upstairs” meaning upper abdomen, shoulders and arm triceps.

Relocation of Fat (Pre and Post)

For multiple studies, the body managed to regenerate the fat cells in different locations in both rats and women. This highlights the theory that the body carefully monitors the amount of fat it holds. Biologically this seems to make sense, as fat cells only live for seven years, and once they die they are immediately replaced by another new fat cell. While the logic of the fat cells returning makes sense, a study has yet to show why the fat does not reappear in the same location is disappeared in. Dr Klein’s theory is that liposuction destroys the “fishnet structure” that the fat cells are contained within preventing reemergence of the old fat cells. Then i’m curious if this theory is correct and a patient had liposuction in major upper and lower areas of the body, would the fat manifest in areas liposuction couldn’t really touch such as subcutaneous or between organs. This could be a major problem as fat around organs would be a much bigger health concern but it would be an interesting idea only assuming that Dr. Klein’s theory was proven true. Another interesting fact from the article was that, later most of the women in the control group — over half, chose to still have liposuction after the study which i find an interesting insight in the minds of women in society in relevance to body image. Well that’s all for this week, see you next time!