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Can Fat Cells Regenerate After Liposuction?

Perhaps one of the most common questions that patients have when they are considering liposuction is, “will my fat return?” Unfortunately, it is impossible to give you a simple, definitive yes or no response to this question. For some patients, fat does return after liposuction. Others experience effectively permanent results, enjoying their new contours indefinitely. While the processes and variables involved in whether your fat cells will regenerate are quite complex, there are a few relatively simple facts you should know about fat cell growth and regeneration so you can make the most informed decision regarding your cosmetic procedure.

Liposuction is generally used for body contouring, not substantial weight loss.

In general, liposuction is most often considered as an option for body contouring purposes, not weight loss. Though there is evidence to suggest that large volume liposuction can produce desired body changes (Youssef et al. 2009; Dhami and Agarwal 2006), it is most often applied with small volume fat removal to shape problem areas, such as the abdomen, buttocks, or thighs, in individuals who are at or close to their ideal weight. Even very fit individuals may struggle to get rid of fat in these areas, and liposuction can be a great option. Removal of unsightly bulges and re-contouring of the silhouette with liposuction can give patients lasting results, as fat cells that are removed will not come back. One study shows that liposuction results can even be maintained with normal weight gain and loss during and after pregnancy (Ahkami 1991).

Weight gain after liposuction causes expansion of the fat cells that remain in the body.

Except for cases of substantial weight gain or loss, the numbers of fat cells in our bodies don’t change over time; because of this, fat cells that are removed during liposuction are not replaced. Fat cells that do exist in the body can expand or shrink with moderate weight gain or loss (Singh et al. 2012) while the number of fat cells in an area will not multiply when you gain weight after liposuction, the effect of storing additional fat cause the remaining fat cells to expand. While this may diminish your results slightly, patients can expect that treated bulges will not return in cases of minimal to moderate weight gain.

Excessive weight gain after liposuction may cause you to form new fat cells.

Studies show that patients who are unable to maintain a weight close to their post-procedure number are at risk for compensatory fat growth, especially if they have had a great deal of fat removed or gained a substantial amount of weight after surgery. This is because the body is triggered to store fat during weight gain, and feedback mechanisms in the body promote fat redistribution and growth (Seretis et al. 2015).

Patients who can commit to regular exercise, a proper diet, and other lifestyle changes following liposuction are most happy with their results (Rohrich et al. 2004), so it is important to consider your role in maintaining your results before undergoing surgery. Embarking on the journey prepared to maintain your weight will go a long way towards giving you more permanent, dramatic results from your liposuction procedure.

If you are ready for a new shape, call 212.644.4416 today to schedule a consult with Dr. Cangello and learn more about liposuction; his expertise and extensive experience will help you obtain superior results to look your best!


Ahkami, S. (1991). Suction Lipectomy Preceding Pregnancy and Postpartum Results. International Surgery. 76(2): 105-8.

Dhami, L., and Agarwal, M. (2006). Safe Total Corporal Contouring with Large-Volume Liposuction for the Obese Patient. Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. 30(5): 574-88.

Rohrich, R., Broughton, G., Horton, B., Lipschitz, A., Kenkel, J., and Brown, S. (2004). The Key to Long-Term Success in Liposuction: A Guide for Plastic Surgeons and Patients. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. 114(7): 1945-52.

Saleh, Y., Mahmoud, E., Tohamy, A., and Abd-Elsayed, A. (2009). Safety and Benefits of Large-Volume Liposuction: A Single Center Experience. International Archives of Medicine. 2:4.

Seretis, K., Goulis, D., Koliakos, G., Demiri, E. (2015). Short- and Long-Term Effects of Abdominal Lipectomy on Weight and Fat Mass in Females: a Systematic Review. Obesity Surgery. 25(10): 1950-8.

Singh, P., Somers, V., Romero-Corral, A., Sert-Kuniyoshi, F., Pusalavidyasagar, S., Davison, D., and Jensen, M. (2012). Effects of Weight Gain and Weight Loss on Regional Fat Distribution. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 96(2): 229-33.

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