Abdominal liposuction may cause a compensatory increase in visceral fat, but physical activity can help counteract the negative health effects associated with this type of fat, a new study suggests.

The findings appear in the July 2012 issue of Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

The new study included 36 healthy women who underwent small-volume abdominal liposuction. Half were randomly assigned to a 4-month exercise program that began 2 months after the surgery.

According to the findings, liposuction was effective in reducing subcutaneous abdominal fat, but after 6 months the group who did not exercise showed a 10% increase in visceral fat and decreased energy expenditure, compared with study participants who exercised.

“We found that removing adipose tissue from the body, as liposuction does, may result in a decrease in total energy expenditure and compensatory growth of visceral fat which is associated with heart disease,” says study author Fabiana Braga Benatti, PhD, of the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil, in a press release. “The good news is that exercise training was effective in counteracting this compensatory growth. If someone chooses to undergo liposuction, it is very important, if not essential, that this person exercises after the surgery.”

He adds that, “We believe patients should be informed of the possible compensatory visceral fat growth and the potential health risks associated with a liposuction procedure. Additionally, health professionals are encouraged to recommend exercise training as an intervention following liposuction surgery.”

[Source: Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism]