By Lara Evans Bracciante
Originally published in Massage & Bodywork magazine, October/November 2004.
Dieting and exercising to lose weight are as American as apple pie (low-fat, that is). And now with the extreme makeover craze sweeping the country, liposuction — the surgical removal of fat tissue — may eventually become just as common. But taking this shortcut also bypasses the health benefits associated with slimming down, including reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and fatigue.
Researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis studied the effects of liposuction on 15 obese women who had approximately 20 pounds of abdominal fat removed. By measuring blood markers (cytokines and C-reactive protein) and insulin resistance before surgery and after 12 weeks, researchers were able to determine heart disease and diabetes risk. The surgical weight loss had no positive effect, meaning their risk did not decrease.
Because liposuction only removes weight in a single area, researchers speculate the fat cells which remain throughout the body continue to contribute to health risks. However, experts say, weight loss in any form can help overweight patients begin an exercise program by improving their ability to walk and be more physically active. Furthermore, they may be motivated to make the necessary diet and lifestyle changes that will contribute to lowered risk of disease.