(CBS News) While liposuction may be a way to get a skinnier stomach, new research shows it may spur on the growth of another kind of fat.
Liposuction focuses on the removal of subcutaneous fat, which is right under the skin. After surgery, patients gained visceral fat, which surrounds the internal organs. Visceral fat has been linked to a higher risk for diabetes and heart disease, the researchers noted.
The good news is there's a way to keep blubber off: exercise. Women who participated in an exercise program after their surgery were able to keep off the fat better than the non-trained group.
The findings were published in the July 2012 issue of The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
For the study, scientists in Brazil looked at 36 women who had undergone liposuction surgery. All the women had a body mass index of 30 or under, meaning that none of them were obese. Both groups lost about the same amounts of body weight and overall fat mass as a result of the surgery.
Then, half the group was enrolled in a four-month exercise program, while the other group was told not to. The training regiment consisted of aerobic and anaerobic (weight training). Six months after the experiment, women in the non-trained group retained a 10 percent increase in visceral fat. The women who exercised were able to keep it off, as well as improve their physical capacity and insulin sensitivity.
Lona Sandon, an assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern at Dallas, told HealthDay that this study shows how important it is to make changes in your daily routine if you are committed to losing the excess inches.
"You oftentimes have this snapback of the fats," she said to HealthDay. "Sure, you can get rid of some of it with surgery. But if you don't change your lifestyle, it doesn't stay away forever. And certainly if you've spent all this money and incurred the risk of undergoing liposuction -- and it's not a risk-free option, by any means -- why wouldn't you want to do what you can to preserve the gain?"