Fat cell number is set in childhood

There’s some fresh research out substantiating the theory that fat cell numbers are set by the end of adolescence and remain stable in adulthood, regardless of weight loss. Fat size can vary but cell numbers remain constant.

Fat Cells and Size

The research has also shown that each year, approximately 8% of fat cells die off and are replaced. As such, cell numbers are maintained.

So no news here.

But what I’d be interest to know, is whether liposuction would be successful in effecting a long term reduction in the number of fat cells or if, over time, cells removed are repopulated.

In other words, does the body
(a) work towards maintaining a certain number of fat cells that is set in adolescence, or
(b) simply have a tendency to replace a given number of cells each year and thus surgery is a viable long-term method to reduce fat cell numbers?

If surgery truly reduces fat cell numbers for good, then liposuction could effect a permanent change in a person’s fat distribution pattern. If it cannot, then the results will only be temporary and that pear shape will eventually return.

I suspect that (a) is true and that, suck up what cells you might, eventually they will be repopulated.

This suspicion is based on some research I vaguely recall in which obese mice had some fat removed from their bodies and then immediately increased their food consumption to compensate until the fat mass was restored.

Of course the increase could have been effected by the enlargement of the residual cells. But given that our genetics program us to deposit fat in specific places (varying slightly from individual to individual), it would seem that taking a vacuum to your big butt would have no impact on your general tendency to put fat in that area.

Saying that, I’m not familiar with the long term results of liposuction so I may just be talking out of my own big butt.


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