Does Liposuction Help Prevent Heart Disease?
Last fall, a plastic surgeon from the Kansas City area presented a small study at the annual conference of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons in Denver that suggested there may be a link between liposuction and a resulting reduction of triglyceride levels. Triglycerides are the levels of fat in the blood and are thought to contribute to higher levels of cardiovascuar disease.
Dr. Eric Swanson, a plastic surgeon in private practice in Leawood, Kan., a wealthy suburb of Kansas City, said that within three months of a liposuction and/or tummy tuck procedure, his patients' triglyceride levels had dropped an average of 43 percent. Only 22 percent of the patients were obese, while 78 percent were normal weight or overweight.
"It made sense that if you reduced fat mass that might reduce circulating triglycerides,” Swanson said. “But I didn’t think the effect on the body’s fat scores would be enough to make a significant difference in triglycerides.”
According to an NBC News report of Dr. Swanson's findings, "The procedure also led to a decrease in the numbers of white blood cells circulating in the blood. [Swanson said] And this suggests that the removal of fat is reducing inflammation, which is also thought to be involved in the development of cardiovascular disease."
But before you put down that tube of Pringles and schedule an appointment at my office for liposuction or a tummy tuck in hopes of avoiding heart disease, let's step back a moment.
First of all, the study was very small. It included 322 patients, 270 women and 52 men. Secondly, we don't know what the long-term effects will be. This could be a temporary drop. Or the patients could be feeling so good about their new procedures and slimmer middles, that they are eating better and working out more. Dr. Swanson said the patients were told to continue their normal routines, but patients are human and are usually pretty excited to take care of their new surgical resutls.
It has long been known that the most dangerous type of fat is "deep" fat - the kind that wraps around your organs. This fat is not reached with liposuction, which only removes superficial fat.
The study, however, is interesting and more thorough studies should probably be launched. In the meantime, exercise and a healthy diet are still the best medicine for preventing heart disease. When you finish that tube of Pringles, fill it with heavy rocks and do some bicep curls!