- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Obesity ailments seen to persist Abdominal liposuction is purely cosmetic and does not reduce one’s risk of developing various diseases linked to excess fat, a study confirms. The study involved 15 obese women: eight with normal glucose tolerance and seven with type 2 diabetes. It found that removing a large volume of abdominal fat with liposuction did not provide the metabolic benefits normally seen after similar amounts of fat are lost through dieting. “Despite removing large amounts of fat — about 20 percent of our subjects’ total body fat mass — there were no beneficial medical effects,” said Dr. Samuel Klein, a professor of medicine and nutritional science at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. He was the lead author of the study, published today in the New England Journal of Medicine. “Had these patients lost this much fat by dieting, we would have expected to see marked improvements in insulin sensitivity and other risk factors for heart disease,” Dr. Klein said. The researchers performed detailed exams of the women’s insulin sensitivity, triglyceride and cholesterol levels, blood pressure and other risk factors for heart disease — both before the liposuction and 10 to 12 weeks after the surgery. Sensitivity of liver, muscle and fat tissue to insulin was measured by a procedure in which insulin and glucose are infused into a vein at a constant rate to evaluate how the body’s metabolism functions. “It was remarkable how similar the results were before and after the procedure,” Dr. Klein said. “There were no changes in any of the markers associated with heart disease in any of our subjects.” Even after the procedure, the women still had large proportions of their body mass in fat, and body mass index ratings that left them still classified as obese. The liposuction decreased blood-level concentrations of the appetite-regulating hormone leptin, but the researchers concluded that “abdominal liposuction should not, by itself, be considered a clinical therapy for obesity.” However, the study showed that it’s possible to safely remove large amounts of fat with the procedure, which involves vacuuming fat cells from tissue through small incisions in the skin. “We confirmed that it is possible to do large-volume liposuction safely,” said the co-author, Dr. V. Leroy Young, a former professor of plastic and reconstructive surgery at Washington University who is now in private practice. Dr. Klein said it may be necessary to reduce fat content throughout the body to reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease. “This study underscores the need for the ‘old-fashioned’ method of eating less and exercising more to treat obesity,” Dr. Klein said.

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