Liposuction May Be Healthy

Being overweight is a well known health risk. Accumulations of fat, particularly around one’s midsection,  contribute to the risk of heart attacks, stroke, and diabetes. Losing this weight through a sustained diet and exercise program is the best way to improve one’s health. There is a large number of medical studies that would support the health benefit’s of overall body fat reduction.

It has long been theorized that the surgical removal of body fat rolls through liposuction may offer some similar albeit less significant health benefits. To date, there has been no medical evidence that would support this belief. It was presumed that the amount of fat removed in most liposuction procedures was simply too small to make a difference. In addition, it has always been believed that the fat that really matters, from a health standpoint, was visceral or intra-abdominal fat. Subcutaneous fat or that which lies right under the skin only mattered because it made up those unflattering outer body rolls.

A  recent study given at the 2011 annual American Society of Plastic Surgeons meeting in Denver  presented some interesting findings on potential health benefits from liposuction surgery. In over 300 hundred patients who had either liposuction, a tummy tuck or both combined, blood levels of triglycerides, cholesterol and white blood cells were studied both before and after surgery. Triglyceride levels in patients with normal levels before surgery were unchanged. However, in patients with elevated triglyceride levels before surgery (defined as greater than 150 mg/dl), they showed a triglyceride level reduction of over 40 percent. Such significant level reductions are usually associated with drug therapies which often are even this effective. White blood cell counts, viewed as an indicator of chronic inflammation and disease inducer, dropped an average of 10 percent.

Does this mean that liposuction is good for your overall health? That is a stretch at this point but this study clearly shows that liposuction causes blood chemistry changes that reduce certain disease risk factors. Much more work needs to be done but it does provide some proof that subcutaneous fat may have a greater metabolic role to play than previously thought. It is not just an idle depot of excess fat whose only relevance is as the creator of undesired body rolls and bulges. At the least it may be comforting to know there may be some benefit, small as it may turn out to be, that liposuction removal of  abdominal and waistline fat may also be good for more than just how you look.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana