Liposuction to get rid of beer belly: quick fix or stupid idea?

This winter during the second lockdown, I gained weight due to sitting at the computer all the time working online and increased beer drinking while sitting at the computer in the evening. I’ve had a beer belly since I was about 30 (am almost 42 now) but it’s grown significantly over the winter. Some articles of clothing don’t fit properly (or at all) anymore.

Recently I’ve been seriously considering going for a liposuction as a quick fix. While I do get more movement now that the lockdown is over and am trying to cut the calories a little bit, I am not motivated to drastically change my eating habits and am too busy and tired to start a concentrated exercise regime. I’ve gone online to look into liposuction and have not been able to find a straight answer as to whether this could be a solution or not. I have found the comment that “if you don’t change your eating habits, the belly fat will return after the liposuction.” Understood, but as I said, I have been working on cutting calories somewhat (I no longer drink the amount of beer at home that I did during the lockdown) and if there is not another lockdown, I expect that I will be getting movement again, so hopefully that will be dealt with at least partly.

Is this a feasible solution or an idea that is unrealistic, dangerous or not worth it? In particular, I am wondering:

  • Are liposuctions ever done to remove belly fat?

  • Are they dangerous? Years ago (as in the 1990s), I have heard that you can die from a liposuction. Is this a real risk or has it only happened in isolated cases?

  • Can there be side effects?

  • Is it painful? Someone has told me that her friend had hellish pains while getting liposuction), yet clinics that do this advertise that they do it under local anesthetic.

If you hope you can maintain the weight loss [via lipo] by cutting back some on beer and moving around a little more, you might be in for a sad surprise. It sounds like you’re engaging in a little bit of wishful thinking. Before I’d spend that kind of money and risk on lipo, I’d make sure I could hold my weight steady for a good 6 months.

The only person I know who had lipo for his belly fat gained it all back within a year or two. It’s really easy to do. I think everyone thinks they’ll be different. Prove it to yourself first.

It’s a surgery to fix an issue that has other, safer solutions.

FWIW there is a different procedure called cryolipolysis that freezes and kills your fat cells. However I don’t know how much it costs, how safe it is, if the effects last long term, or how much people lose with it.

Increased beer drinking you say? Then I’ve got the all beer diet for ya: The “All Beer Diet” German monks created for the 46 days of Lent Fast before Easter | Lords of the Drinks

I did this for a week and lost about 15 pounds. Man, I have to tell you though, it is wierd. You have to stick to only beer and no other calories. And as strange as this may sound, beer starts becoming almost nauseating. First day you’re like “awesome, I’m dieting and just chugging away.” By day two, I was thinking I better get in a variety of suds. Day three was I’ve had 3 beers already, the thought of #4 is almost but not quite nauseating.

seriously, any diet you can stick to is a good one. An all beer + vitamin diet should be fine. Funny thing was I found my beer intake dropping. And secondly, it was ok with no other calories after a day or three, but only if I didn’t take in calories. As soon as I started on just a wee something, then the floodgates opened and cravings for feed went way up.

you have 4 or so regular strength beers, you’re maybe taking in 600 calories per day. You’re gonna lose week.

Me thinks this is better than liposuction. If you can go 40 days of Lent, you’ll be a lean mean fighting machine. If you can go a week, you’ll be amazed at home much you can drop.

Yes.

It’s also quite common for the fat to return over time, with belly fat the most common site of that return.

All surgery carries risk. When performed by a board-certified plastic surgeon they’re pretty safe, but all surgery carries a risk of infection, other problems, or even death. The death rate seems to be around 1 in 10,000 but that covers all procedures, from small localized areas to very extensive fat removal sessions from many sites on the body.

A lot depends on how much you’re doing - the more work that is done, the longer you’re under anesthesia, the more that’s removed, the higher the risks.

The technique used apparently also has an effect on risk, but that’s beyond my limited knowledge on the subject.

Your personal health and possible medical issues also affect your risk, but that’s something you would discuss with a doctor before actually getting the procedure.

Sure. Most are short-term and heal up - like bruising at the surgery site - but there is the possibility of long-term/permanent problems. There is the aforementioned bruising, possible bleeding, infection, embolisms (that’s when a chunk of fat gets loose in your bloodstream. This is a Bad Thing.), accidental puncturing of organs (that requires emergency surgery to fix), change in sensation at the site which is usually temporary but can be permanent (that can range from “numb” to “super-sensitive/painful”), the skin over the surgery site up and dying due to disrupted blood supply, fluid imbalances that can be a problem for your heart or kidneys, scars, deformities at the surgery site, and that’s just what I found with a quick Google.

That said - most people are fine afterwards.

On the other hand - the fat loss isn’t always permanent. You can regain weight, including at the site of the liposuction. This is most likely to occur on the belly, which would means a reversal of the effect you want.

Oh, and then there’s the recovery period - you’ll have fluids draining from the site. A lot depends on the extent of the surgery, but that could be anything from puncture sites weeping into bandages to the installation of a surgical drain.

Well, yes - it’s surgery, after all.

Again, a lot depends on both how much you’re getting done and you yourself. Very extensive work might be done under general anesthesia. If it’s being done under local quite a bit probably depends on the person giving the anesthesia. When I had surgery done (not liposuction, it was a different procedure) it was done under local and I felt absolutely no pain during the procedure. (After was a different story…) Less adept use of local anesthesia might result in pain sensations.

And, again, there is a recovery period. Aftercare is important, as it pain control. Ask about pain management post-surgery.

I don’t say the above to frighten but to inform. Yes, in a sense it’s a “quick fix” but if you opt for it you need to go in fully informed and understanding of benefits, risks, and limitations.

IF you can cut down on the calories and move a bit more and get some results that is a safer and less-expensive option. You might want to give that a try for a year before jumping into liposuction. Yeah, I know it’s hard - I’ve got some weight I’m trying to shed, too, and it is a struggle. But it’s not how fast you lose weight/fat, it’s that you are losing it. Don’t change what you eat, just cut down the portions a bit. If you can carve out 30 minutes a day for a brisk walk you might see some improvement without feeling it’s a “concentrated” exercise. Just suggestions, I have no idea of what you do in a day or just how busy you might be. But if you don’t change the habits that led to that beer belly then it will be back, sooner or later, after that liposuction leaving you where you started (or heavier).

Even if you don’t lose weight, being able to maintain a steady state before this sort of surgery would probably be a good idea, because that gives you a better chance of maintaining the benefits of the surgery.

Educate yourself. Choose your doctor carefully. Good luck and good results no matter what you choose to do.

https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2021/sep/23/linda-evangelista-says-she-is-permanently-deformed-after-cosmetic-treatment

I would say “stupid idea”. You’re basically looking for a quick fix to a systemic problem, besides any consideration of the pain or danger of the procedure. You say you’re too busy and ‘tired’ to start a concentrated exercise regimen, but exercise and a better diet will give you more energy eventually, as well as likely mitigate any possible medical issues that could be cropping up, such as rising cholesterol, blood pressure and glucose issues that could be leading to type II diabetes.

I’m very much like an older version of you; a not-great diet and insufficient exercise led me to have a belly for a long time. Then in 2019 I got into a diet and exercise regimen that had me looking and feeling great-- I lost 30 lbs, had a lot of energy, cholesterol down, BP good, all med numbers looking good. Unfortunately, I’m angry at myself that I let myself go again during the pandemic lockdown and now I’m back to the diet and exercise regime.

BTW, something I’ve wondered about lipo-- even though I primarily gain weight in my belly, it’s not all there. My face gets fatter too. When I lost the weight in 2019 my face clearly looked thinner and better. I had defined cheekbones again! What happens to the fat in one’s face and elsewhere if you get spot-reduction lipo in the belly— does the face stay fat? Does the remaining fat get redistributed throughout the body (assuming one keeps the removed belly weight off)?

I’ve seen pictures of people who have had liposuction and the fat elsewhere on their bodies stays in the same place. So your hamster cheeks would stay unless they got liposuctioned too. The fat cells in the rest of your body wouldn’t migrate to fill in the gap, but I’d guess that to keep the belly weight off you’d have to diet/exercise to avoid the weight coming right back so the rest of your trouble spots would shrink from that.

The fat on your belly is the fat that is in a relatively “healthy” place. The corresponding fat around your organs (IN your gut) is more of a health problem.

You would remove your body’s reminder to you that you have not been taking care of it, without actually taking care of it.

Use the belly as an indicator of fat elsewhere and act accordingly.

I was in the same boat as the OP. I am also roughly the same age and height as the OP. I gained a lot of weight over the past year, and admit that beer consumption contributed to it.

On August 22 of this year I finally had enough of it, and went on a strict diet: no beer/alcohol, no snacking, and limit caloric intake to around 1000 calories per day. I’ve also been running three to four days a week.

I hate weighing myself, so… I don’t. But I know I’ve lost weight since August 22 since my pants have a much looser fit.

I never considered liposuction, because weight loss can be achieved by simply restricting calories.

Checkout the subreddit, r/Botchedsurgeries .

Sedentary people may have fat packed around their organs, which can cause their stomach to be distended. Here’s a scan of a sedentary person compared to a sumo wrestler:


(From Nova: The Truth About Fat)

If a beer belly is more like the sedentary person on the left, then liposuction would just get that outer fat layer but not reduce the fat in the abdominal cavity. Their stomach would still look distended even if the outer fat was removed. The sumo wrestler on the right doesn’t have fat in the abdominal cavity since vigorous exercise causes the body to instead store fat at the skin layer rather than in the abdominal cavity.

From what I’ve heard, the best candidates for lipo are those who are already active and eating healthy, and are overall happy with their bodies except for this one spot where they can’t seem to lose the pudge no matter what they do. They are the people most likely to get the results they want from surgery. That’s quite different from what you’re describing, which is a person with one spot that’s just particularly noticeable, where other measures haven’t really been tried.

Years ago I saw a reality show-slash-documentary that followed three peoples’ experiences with cosmetic surgery - two women getting a nose job and breast implants respectively, and a man getting liposuction to remove belly fat. He was trying to date again, and thought he’d be more attractive if he lost the beer belly.

The camera went with him into the surgery, and it was not pretty; the surgeon had to ram the cannula down into his abdomen to break up the fat enough for it to be sucked up. Afterwards, the poor guy was surprised by the pain, the extensive bruising, and the length and severity of his recovery - IIRC, he had to wear a corset for a week or so, while his abdominal muscles healed.

The sad thing is, when the filmmakers interviewed him a few weeks later, he said it hadn’t worked, that he didn’t have any more success dating after the surgery. (Which, parenthetically, bothered me the whole time. He wasn’t obese, just pudgy and with a monk’s fringe; but he was engaging, friendly, and sweet, in a nebbishy adorkable manner; I thought if he couldn’t attract a woman, he was aiming at the wrong type. Or maybe he had unreasonable standards.)

The takeaway was, liposuction was a painful, expensive procedure that didn’t really address his issues. Not saying that it would be the same for you, but it seems like you shouldn’t expect to go in with a dad bod and come out looking like Michael Phelps.

OUCH.

I see a consensus forming…that I shouldn’t do it. It seems that I won’t in the end. Almost no one I’ve spoken to has said anything positive about the idea.

This is a technical question that I am unqualified to answer.

That said, I find the comments here to be too-typical of treatments for obesity and general fatness. While the rich and famous celebrate butt augmentation of breast reduction or Botox, surgical intervention for being fat is frowned upon.

Indeed, medical treatment for being fat is frowned upon. Some US network has My 600 Life, which makes being fat into a circus curiosity.

Being fat is seen as a moral failing. Frankly I can dig it, if you want to look down on people, knock yourself out. But people who want help to lose weight, or who simply want to change their bodies as they like are certainly playing within the rules and should not be discouraged.

So, this is basically me. I’m not as active as i ought to be, but my diet is healthy, my weight has been mostly stable for years, and I have trouble finding clothes that fit well due to more belly than is typical for the rest of my size. (Men’s clothes fit me better than women’s, as men often have bellies.)

Most of my excess belly fat is abdominal, but there’s enough subcutaneous fat that i think removing it would make a significant difference. I looked into liposuction and cryolipolysis.

Liposuction scared the hell out of me. It is pretty risky for a cosmetic procedure. Cryolipolysis, on the other hand, looks pretty good. Yes, there have been some bad outcomes. But a bad cryolipolysis outcome is ugly lumps of fat, not death. And bad outcomes seem uncommon.

Then i chickened out.

But if you stop gaining weight, and you are okay with your weight, and just want to lose some of the belly, my advice is to check out cryolipolysis. Note that people who do this rarely lose any weight at all. Nothing is removed, and as fat cells locally die and break down, they release the fat they carried, which, i suspect, is similar to eating a lot extra for the period while those cells die. At any rate, the fat tends to be redeposited in the other places you have fat cells. I was thinking I’d try not to eat much after while i was doing it, and hope to shed a little of the fat. But it’s a mistake to go into cryolipolysis thinking you will lose weight. My hope is that it mostly moves to my hips, where it would be easier to fit into clothing.

Liposuction does actually reduce your total weight. But it’s a fairly invasive procedure, and I decided it’s not for me.

Another vote for “bad idea”. If you can’t hold your weight where you want it through diet & exercise, you’ll just balloon back up to where you used to be within a few months. Kind of like a boat that’s sprung a leak; if you don’t patch the hole it won’t matter if you bail all the water out in 2 seconds with an expensive pump… it’s just gonna fill back up anyways.

Also, keep in mind the possibility that the belly “fat” isn’t all fat, if you’ve been doing fairly heavy drinking for many years. As your liver starts to go downhill, you start retaining fluid in your mid-section. Liposuction won’t fix that.

Well, I’ve decided to drop the idea, following all the negative feedback about it that I’ve gotten. I will simply try to slightly reduce my calorie intake. Thank you everyone for your input.