We all know that having liposuction can make us look great—that’s why liposuction remains one of the most popular body contouring procedures in use today. At the same time, however, very few people are aware of the fact that liposuction can boost your health and fitness efforts, too. This is unsurprising given how seldom the media correlates having plastic surgery with feeling better, rather than just looking better. In reality, many cosmetic procedures have been linked to improved emotional and physical health. Here’s what you need to know about how liposuction can change your health and fitness profile:
4 Ways Having Liposuction Can Help You Achieve Your Fitness Goals
1. Liposuction can improve your cardiovascular health.
When your heart, lungs, arteries, and blood vessels are working optimally, it’s easier for oxygenated blood to reach your cells. This supplies your muscles with the fuel they need to work effectively while also providing you with an overall increase in energy and stamina. It’s the basis for a positive cycle, too: The more you exercise, the better your cardiovascular health becomes. The better your cardiovascular health becomes, the easier it is to exercise.
According to a study published by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, having liposuction can give you a head start on improving your cardiovascular health. In this study, researchers analyzed levels of cholesterol and triglycerides (a type of fat strongly associated with heart disease) in the blood of more than 300 patients who planned to have liposuction. Those patients who had elevated triglyceride levels prior to having liposuction showed a 43 percent reduction in their triglyceride levels (on average) after having the procedure. Their cholesterol levels, on the other hand, remained the same. Long-term dietary changes are therefore required to manage cholesterol. More promising still, researchers discovered that patients showed a reduction in their white blood cell count after having liposuction. This is significant because high white blood cell counts are associated with an increased risk of numerous adverse health events, such as heart attacks, obesity, strokes, and high blood pressure.
2. Losing weight may increase your motivation to exercise.
Body sculpting procedures like liposuction have long been associated with improved weight maintenance (or continued weight loss) in patients who were previously overweight. Patients who undergo bariatric surgery, for example, typically regain about five pounds per year after successfully reaching a healthy weight. However, if these patients also have one or more body sculpting procedures (not just bariatric surgery) this rate of weight regain falls to less than one pound per year.
Part of the reason for this difference is clearly psychological: Once a person achieves his or her “ideal” body, the satisfaction he or she experiences is so intense that it translates into a sense of lasting motivation. Having a lean, toned-looking body gives us a visual, tangible reward for all our hard work and therefore consistently reminds us of the many benefits of staying in shape. Conversely, when someone loses a great deal of weight only to find that he or she is stuck with unsightly fat deposits that simply won’t budge, motivation to maintain a healthy weight is usually replaced by feelings of frustration. Eventually, this frustration turns into defeat and the individual in question slowly gives up on staying fit.
In addition to the psychological effects of removing unwanted fatty deposits, research is now revealing that getting rid of excess body fat may provoke physiological changes that make it easier to stay in shape. In the past, it was generally assumed that a lack of physical activity caused fat accumulation, and not vice versa. Today, however, scientists are challenging this notion. A number of both human and animal studies have shown that fat accumulation in previously active individuals tends to lead to a decline in all forms of voluntary physical activity.
To understand why this could occur, it’s important to realize that fat is not inert. While we think of fat as being an idle byproduct of excess calories—no more active than our hair or fingernails, for instance—nothing could be further from the truth. Fat is a living, active substance that interacts with the brain, hormones, lymphatic system, etc. As explained by fitness expert Bret Contreras, body fat can influence “several hormones, neurotransmitters, genes, inflammatory mediators, and other factors [that] can also impact how physically active we are by influencing our energy, fitness, and spontaneous physical activity levels. This explains why overweight and obesity, which are often characterized by hormonal dysregulation and certain genetic predispositions, can cause inactivity.”
While liposuction is not designed to remove a large amount of fat (usually about five to eight pounds of fat are removed per session), it can remove fat in key areas that are associated with poor metabolic outcomes. Excess belly fat, for example, has been shown to exert a more powerful influence on levels of appetite hormones than fat located on the extremities. Excess belly fat is also linked to obesity-promoting conditions like insulin resistance. Because most people use liposuction to remove stubborn belly fat, it could have important implications for their overall health and energy level.
3. Liposuction can improve your comfort while exercising.
Another reason why heavier people often avoid exercise is simply that it’s uncomfortable for them. Even if a person is not overweight, excess fat on the thighs or arms can cause chafing that makes it difficult for a person to engage in aerobic exercise. This is significant because aerobic exercise is the most effective at burning calories (unlike resistance exercise, which burns fewer calories but aids in the building of muscle mass). An inability to comfortably engage in cardiovascular workouts like running or high intensity interval training can make it much more difficult for a person to lose or maintain his or her weight.
Liposuction is ideal for improving chafing as it’s expressly intended to remove fat in specific problem areas. If you have excess fat on your thighs that rubs together when you try to jog, for example, liposuction can remove it.
4. Liposuction can effectively “spot reduce”
While diet and exercise are often the best ways to get a lean, toned body, these efforts might not be able to meet your aesthetic goals. Factors such as pregnancy, aging, and significant weight fluctuations can all contribute to stubborn bulges of fat that refuse to budge – no matter how many hours you spend at the gym. For some people, excess pockets of fat on areas like the thighs, abdomen, and under the chin can’t be reduced with diet and exercise alone. Simply put, spot reduction through diet and exercise just isn’t possible for some. And when you’ve worked hard to get the body you want, it can be frustrating dealing with fat that seems to never disappear.
Fortunately, liposuction offers an effective and long-lasting solution for this common problem. This body contouring procedure can target your most frustrating problem areas, restoring a lean and sculpted appearance. When paired with ongoing healthy lifestyle choices, liposuction can help you reach your ultimate cosmetic goals.
5. Liposuction can reduce feelings of self-consciousness.
Today, we’re inundated with images depicting what the “perfect” body looks like. As a result, many people—even those who are not overweight—are extremely self-conscious about their appearance. While this insecurity may not be crippling when one is going about day to day life clad in layers of clothing, it usually turns into a source of extreme embarrassment when it’s time to don tight workout gear. Spandex is not, after all, very forgiving if you have bulges of fat anywhere on your body. Furthermore, the act of exercising can make fat deposits readily apparent by causing them to jiggle. It’s therefore little wonder that for many people, the idea of working out simply serves to remind them of all the things they dislike about their bodies.
While all of this would be troubling enough even when working out alone, many people need to exercise in social environments, such as recreational centers. The idea of “looking fat” in front of others, especially people who are already slim and in good shape, is simply too much for most people. As a result, they abandon their fitness goals.
By using liposuction, you can get rid of “problem areas” that are causing you embarrassment—no matter where they are located on your body. Liposuction has been approved to treat fat deposits virtually anywhere on the body, even on the ankles, arms, and under the chin.
Are You A Good Candidate for Liposuction?
Though liposuction is generally safe and very effective, it’s not the right procedure for everyone. It’s important to understand that liposuction is not intended to be a replacement for diet and exercise, nor is it a “front line” approach to weight loss. As mentioned previously, liposuction is designed for use on patients who are either a healthy weight or who are just slightly overweight. It’s not meant to be used on patients who have a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 30, and it cannot make a heavy person slim overnight. If you’re more than 30 pounds overweight, you will need to start your weight loss journey the old-fashioned way: By eating fewer calories and trying to get more active. If you’ve tried this approach and it hasn’t worked for you, you will need to have true weight loss surgery (i.e., bariatric surgery) before you have plastic surgery.
The reason why liposuction cannot be used to induce spontaneous substantial weight loss is not due to a lack of effective surgical techniques. Instead, the amount of fat that can be removed during liposuction is limited in order to protect the patient’s safety. Removing too much fat would cause the patient’s weight to plummet suddenly and this would almost certainly put his or her body into a state of shock. Rapid weight loss causes sudden fluctuations in one’s blood pressure and puts a great deal of stress on the heart—this is why most doctors advise against engaging in dramatic “crash dieting.” Body fat should be reduced in small amounts, gradually.
Prospective liposuction patients should also be aware that liposuction is still a form of invasive surgery, even if it’s a simple and low-risk operation. As such, if you plan to have this procedure, you’ll need to have a physical examination to definitely determine that you are in good health. You will also need to plan to take at least one week off work to rest and recover. If you have young children at home, make sure you arrange for help with childcare duties during this week as well. Liposuction recovery is not typically very painful, but it’s still important to avoid placing stress on your incisions while they’re healing.
As a final note, liposuction patients should be aware that even if they are happy with their bodies after having this procedure, it’s still important to get regular exercise. While the fat that is removed during liposuction will be gone forever, it’s possible for the body to produce new fat deposits if a person gains a large amount of weight (more than 25 pounds). These new fat deposits have the potential to compromise one’s liposuction results, though the areas that have been treated by liposuction will usually remain proportionally slimmer than the rest of the body. Additionally, exercise has many important health benefits that just being slim will not confer. Even people who are at a healthy weight need to engage in regular physical activity to keep their lungs, hearts, and brains healthy. Exercise helps to protect us against cardiovascular disease, type two diabetes, Alzheimer’s and dementia, and even cancer. Staying fit is, in short, absolutely vital to maintaining good health—whether you’ve had liposuction or not.
If you think you’ll have difficulty maintaining the motivation to exercise, talk to your plastic surgeon about your desire to stay in shape. He or she will probably be able to recommend both a nutritionist and personal trainer who can help you eat right and ease back into physical activity once you’ve recovered from surgery.