Having the fat instantly sucked out of a too big belly does hold a certain appeal when a healthy diet and regular exercise cannot overcome a family trait toward a wide waist. So it's no wonder that liposuction-which targets pesky pockets of subcutaneous fat lurking just below the skin is one of the world's most popular cosmetic surgeries.

Problem: That sudden loss of body fat may trigger a feedback mechanism that promotes fat regain. Even worse, a recent study from Brazil shows that the type of fat regained is far more harmful to health than the type of fat that was sucked out! Fortunately, the study also suggests a simple way to prevent that dangerous fat from forming. Ladies contemplating lipo, take note…

The study included 36 non-obese women who were not in the habit of exercising regularly. Each had liposuction to remove a modest amount (about 2.2 pounds) of abdominal subcutaneous fat. After two months, one group of participants was assigned to do a combination of strength training plus aerobic exercise for about 60 to 75 minutes three times weekly for four months...the other group did not exercise. Both groups had similar dietary habits.

What the researchers found: Six months after surgery, CT scans showed that both groups still had less subcutaneous belly fat than they had had prior to their liposuction. However, the nonexercisers had a 10% increase in visceral fat, a dangerous type of fat that lies deep within the abdomen, surrounding internal organs. Visceral fat produces hormones and other substances that can raise blood pressure, negatively alter blood cholesterol levels and interfere with the body's ability to properly use insulin-thus increasing the risk for heart disease, diabetes and death. In contrast, the exercisers showed no such increase in visceral fat, indicating that exercise can counteract a liposuction-induced increase of this harmful fat.

Bottom line: If you are considering liposuction, ask your doctor about the possibility of increased visceral fat and discuss an appropriate postsurgery exercise plan.

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