Recently, one of my girlfriends had liposuction and came in showing off her new flat tummy and thin thighs. I have to admit, she looked marvelous and I was more than just a little jealous! Even though they had only removed a few pounds of fat, she looked as if she’d lost at least 20 pounds and was absolutely glowing.
Since I need to lose a little weight myself (Okay, more than just a little), I found myself considering whether or not liposuction might be right for me. After all, in this age of instant gratification, I could use a little “instant” health myself. Could liposuction possibly be a quick fix solution not only for my problem buttoning my favorite jeans but for that pesky high cholesterol and weight problem that has plagued my adult life and left me with more heart disease risk than I like to readily admit to? If so, then the thought of a quick solution to these problems and a healthier heart was intriguing to say the least! No more diet and exercise -– now we’re talking my language!
Unfortunately, the solution to a healthy heart isn’t quite as simple as liposuction alone. While liposuction will definitely improve your looks, put you into those skinny jeans again, and make you look pounds thinner, the fat lost during liposuction does not improve your overall heart health. How can this be? This seems counterintuitive. After all, isn’t weight one of the risk factors for heart disease? Doesn’t it make sense that losing weight would improve our heart health regardless of whether the weight loss came from diet and exercise or liposuction?
Not all fat is created equal. One of the problems with liposuction and heart health is that liposuction targets subcutaneous fat or the outer-top surface layer of fat. (Personally, I call this layer of fat the layer that makes me look like the Stay-Puff-Marshmallow-Girl!) Unfortunately, subcutaneous fat isn’t the fat that hurts our heart health. The real killer is visceral fat. Visceral fat is deeply buried underneath subcutaneous fat and settles around our organs. If you are post-menopausal, then you probably know visceral fat very well since it’s the main culprit behind the unwelcome companion of menopause belly fat. It’s also the type of fat that not only hurts your heart health but contributes to other health problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes and certain cancers (colorectal and breast). There is no quick fix -– no instant health –- when it comes to this type of fat. We have to get rid of visceral fat the old-fashioned way with diet and exercise. (Could someone please tell me why health ALWAYS involved sweat?)
Despite our mental conditioning to the contrary, fat isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, we need fat cells (adipocytes). The adipose tissue acts just like one of those expanding wallets or purses that can hold just about everything but the kitchen sink. They have an amazing ability to expand -– and expand –- and expand –- and store all those extra calories that we aren’t expending. By acting as a storage facility for the extra calories that we take in, the adipose tissue actually protects our other organs, like the heart and liver from damage. As with all expanding wallets, you can only put so much in them before they’re full and just can’t expand anymore. As the adipose tissue loses their ability to expand, we are left with really “fat” (forgive the pun) fat cells which are unable to absorb any more calories and provide protective benefits to the other tissues and organs. When this happens, you begin to see a rise in heart disease, obesity, and other health related issues such as diabetes.
When the right kind of fat is removed or reduced, our levels of C-reactive protein in our blood is reduced. C-reactive protein is an indicator of the amount of risk that we have for heart disease. Researchers found that diet and exercise, along with gastric bypass surgery (because it reduces the amount of calories you intake), reduces the presence of C-reactive protein. Persons who had liposuction have no reduction in the levels of C-reactive protein in their blood. The only way to reduce the size of these supersized fat cells is to exercise (expend those calories) or limit the amount calories that you intake. Liposuction removes fat cells but does nothing to reduce the size of the supersized fat cells or to make them any healthier.
Will liposuction make you look better -– thinner –- healthier? Absolutely! Is it a quick fix to heart disease? Unfortunately, the answer that question is no. If your goal is a healthier heart, then while liposuction may make your waist thinner, it won’t get rid of visceral fat or reduce the size of the underlying fat cells. For a healthier heart, it looks like diet and exercise is still a winner.
How to Get Rid of Menopause Belly Fat, https://www.empowher.com/news/herarticle/2009/05/07/how-get-rid-menopause-belly-fat?page=0,0
Liposuction weight loss may not help heart, United Press International, UPI.com, 05 Jan 2009, http://www.upi.com/Health_News/2009/01/05/Liposuction-weight-loss-may-not-help-heart/UPI-20681231134549/
Peter Janiszewski, PhD, Liposuction does not make you healthy, Obesity Panacea, 15 May 2009, http://www.obesitypanacea.com/2009/05/liposuction-does-not-make-you-healthy.html
Effects of Liposuction on LDL Cholesterol, http://www.livestrong.com/article/32618-effects-liposuction-ldl-cholesterol/