Q: I want to have liposuction to cure my obesity. Someone has told me that will not work. Why is that?
A: In essence, you are talking about two different things. Our bodies have different types of fat. One type of fat is called subcutaneous fat. The other type of fat is called visceral fat.
Subcutaneous fat is found underneath the skin. This is the tissue that we can pinch externally. Subcutaneous fat that is deposited in the body in the buttocks and outer thighs often gives people that "pear shape.”
Liposuction is intended to treat subcutaneous fat. It is a permanent removal of this fat tissue. However, this fat tissue can return if one does not maintain a healthy weight, eat in a healthy manner, and exercise consistently. Liposuction is a cosmetic body contouring procedure. It is also a major surgical procedure with risks and side effects.
Visceral fat is the fat tissue that is found in the abdomen and around the internal organs of the body. This fat tissue is a highly functioning metabolic and endocrine organ. It is important for temperature regulation and insulation. For example, people that have lost a lot of weight will find that they feel colder during the winter than they used to.
However, visceral fat is associated with obesity and its negative health issues such as: diabetes type 2, coronary artery disease, hypertension, obstructive sleep apnea, hyperlipidemia, fertility, and even certain types of cancers.
Visceral fat cannot be treated with liposuction. Actually, there is not a cure for the disease of obesity. Even bariatric surgery is not a cure or a quick fix for obesity. Obesity can be treated and controlled. Healthy eating and healthy weight loss can bring about a market reduction and even resolution of the many diseases associated with obesity.
As one loses weight, the visceral fat is decreased. This in turn causes changes in the hormones and chemicals that are being released by the fat cells. This change in the amount of visceral fat is what brings about improvement in the diseases associated with obesity.
So, the take home point is that liposuction is not a quick fix nor is it a treatment for obesity.
Kathleen Baskett, MD is the Medical Director of Weight Management at St. Vincent Healthcare. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and the author of “Moving Forward: The Weigh to a Healthier Weight”.