Liposuction: Study Shows it May Help Offset Diabetes

May 1, 2001

Results of a recent study suggest that liposuction—commonly perceived as a strictly cosmetic procedure—may have significant health benefits for people with diabetes.

Sharon Y. Giese, MD, and colleagues at Georgetown University conducted a study in 1999 that examined the effects of liposuction on 14 obese women. An abstract of the results was published in the 2000 issue of Plastic Surgery Forum and presented in October 2000 at a meeting of the American Society of Plastic Surgery.

According to the report, four months after the surgery the overall body mass index (BMI) of the patients after the surgery dropped from an average of 29.1 to 26.8. Of the 14 patients, eight of them had been diagnosed as being insulin resistant. Results revealed that insulin levels dropped for all 14 of those studied—including the eight at risk for diabetes, who showed normal insulin levels after the surgery.

The procedure employed was large-volume liposuction with the use of an internal ultra sound, according to Giese, a plastic surgeon with a practice in New York City.

"The use of an ultra sound destroys more fat cells," explained Giese. "That's important because fat cells are involved in insulin production."

"These are very provocative results," said Gerald H. Pitman in a September 1, 2000 interview with The Wall Street Journal.

One of the leading forces behind liposuction in the United States and author of the textbook "Liposuction & Aesthetic Surgery," Pitman adds, "The industry has hoped for [evidence that liposuction has health benefits], but no one has ever proven it."

Giese has also found that the surgery improved insulin sensitivity for diabetic patients in her daily practice.

Based on these first-time results, Giese received funding from the NIH to conduct a more detailed study tracking the effects of liposuction on 10 women with or near developing diabetes. The study, which will take place at the Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, DC, is currently recruiting patients.

For more information, call Dr. Sharon Giese at (212) 717-2700 or visit her Web site at

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