Boston — Liposuctioning your waistline can make you look just fabulous, but it won't necessarily make you healthier.
In a study, obese women who dropped up to 23 pounds of belly fat by way of liposuction did not appear to lower their risk of diabetes or heart disease, both of which are fat-related.
It is a frustrating and surprising finding to researchers who believed that surgically removing fat would help restore a healthier body chemistry.
"It's not how much fat you remove, but how you remove the fat that is really what is more important," said lead study author Dr. Samuel Klein, at Washington University in St. Louis. "We have to go back to the same old traditional recommendation of lose weight and be more physically active."
Liposuction is the nation's most popular form of cosmetic surgery. About 400,000 fat-sucking liposuction procedures are done every year in this country.
The latest study, published in today's New England Journal of Medicine, involved 15 obese women who underwent cosmetic liposuction.
The women's blood chemistry and pressure, which reflect the risk of diabetes and heart disease, were checked before surgery and about three months after. While the women were slimmer afterward, their medical profiles were almost identical.
Body fat has been increasingly tied to diabetes, heart disease, cancer and other diseases in recent years. It turns out that fat doesn't just make the heart pump harder; fat cells churn out a brew of metabolic products that can harm health.