Written by Andrew Champagne for Avima.com

By any measure, liposuction is one of the most popular forms of plastic surgery available to patients. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, more than 246,000 liposuction procedures were performed in 2017.

As a result, liposuction was the second-most popular form of cosmetic surgery that year (behind breast augmentation), and the third-most popular overall cosmetic procedure (behind Botox injections). Additionally, while some forms of cosmetic surgery have a reputation as being undergone by only females, evidence shows more and more men are opting for liposuction as a weight-loss option. More than 28,000 liposuction procedures were performed on men in 2017, an increase of five percent from the 2016 total.

With such numbers, the most logical question is this: Does liposuction last? The answer, by all accounts, is some variant of, “sort of.”

First of all, in order to be a strong candidate for the procedure, a patient must be in fair overall health. This includes maintaining a weight within a reasonable distance of one’s ideal weight, as well as having skin tough enough to survive liposuction surgery.

Liposuction procedures, of course, remove excess fat from various parts of the body. A tube called a cannula is connected to a vacuum that sucks the fat out, and yes, the fat cells targeted by the procedure are permanently removed.

On paper, this sounds like a perfect solution to get rid of unwanted fat in certain areas of the human body, and it’s one a number of celebrities (including “Real Housewives” star Sonja Morgan) have turned to in an attempt to keep their bodies camera-ready. However, potential liposuction patients must be aware that the body constantly generates new fat cells, regardless of whether or not old ones are taken out. Some of these new cells may or may not replace the ones removed by the procedure, which could return problem areas to their previous, pre-liposuction states if proper action is not taken.

A paper written in 2015 by a quartet of European surgeons explains a similar trend that was observed during a case study. While four of five liposuction (or lipectomy, as the surgery is referred to in the report) patients in the study showed significant weight loss and body mass index improvement through one or two months, those who were followed up on within three to 20 months showed no progress in either regard. This confirms that, while liposuction’s short-term benefits are evident, long-term success depends on the patient’s lifestyle in the months (and, in some cases, years) following the procedures. In that way, liposuction is far from a permanent fix for those looking to either reshape problem areas or drop a few pounds.

The most efficient way to combat the return of unwanted fat cells is the adoption of a healthy lifestyle. In addition to frequent exercise, patients who undergo liposuction should also have balanced diets that are light on fatty and sugary foods and drinks. According to a WebMD article on the topic, good foods to stress in such a diet are fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products. The diet should also include plenty of water, as hydration will allow the body to burn fat at an increased rate.

With liposuction procedures costing thousands of dollars per treatment region, the last thing a patient wants is to regain the fat he or she had sucked out months earlier. Such an approach to exercise and food and drink intake can help ensure that the production of new fat cells is limited, and that a patient’s post-liposuction body stays at an ideal shape.