Liposuction induces a compensatory increase of visceral fat which is effectively counteracted by physical activity: a randomized trial

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2012 Jul;97(7):2388-95. doi: 10.1210/jc.2012-1012. Epub 2012 Apr 26.


Context: Liposuction is suggested to result in long-term body fat regain that could lead to increased cardiometabolic risk. We hypothesized that physical activity could prevent this effect.

Objective: Our objective was to investigate the effects of liposuction on body fat distribution and cardiometabolic risk factors in women who were either exercise trained or not after surgery.

Design, setting, and participants: Thirty-six healthy normal-weight women participated in this 6-month randomized controlled trial at the University of Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Interventions: Patients underwent a small-volume abdominal liposuction. Two months after surgery, the subjects were randomly allocated into two groups: trained (TR, n = 18, 4-month exercise program) and nontrained (NT, n = 18).

Main outcome measures: Body fat distribution (assessed by computed tomography) was assessed before the intervention (PRE) and 2 months (POST2), and 6 months (POST6) after surgery. Secondary outcome measures included body composition, metabolic parameters and dietary intake, assessed at PRE, POST2, and POST6, and total energy expenditure, physical capacity, and sc adipocyte size and lipid metabolism-related gene expression, assessed at PRE and POST6.

Results: Liposuction was effective in reducing sc abdominal fat (PRE vs. POST2, P = 0.0001). Despite the sustained sc abdominal fat decrement at POST6 (P = 0.0001), the NT group showed a significant 10% increase in visceral fat from PRE to POST6 (P = 0.04; effect size = -0.72) and decreased energy expenditure (P = 0.01; effect size = 0.95) when compared with TR. Dietary intake, adipocyte size, and gene expression were unchanged over time.

Conclusion: Abdominal liposuction does not induce regrowth of fat, but it does trigger a compensatory increase of visceral fat, which is effectively counteracted by physical activity.

Trial registration: NCT01174485.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Composition / physiology
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Eating / physiology
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Exercise Therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intra-Abdominal Fat / metabolism
  • Intra-Abdominal Fat / pathology*
  • Lipectomy / adverse effects*
  • Lipectomy / rehabilitation
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Obesity / pathology
  • Obesity / therapy
  • Patient Compliance / statistics & numerical data
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology*
  • Postoperative Complications / therapy*
  • Postoperative Period
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Up-Regulation
  • Weight Gain* / physiology
  • Young Adult

Associated data