Liposuction can be the ideal solution for someone who is unable to get rid of fat in particular areas of their body; it can get rid of the extra fat cells that exercise and diet cannot. But what happens if you undergo liposuction—and then gain back some of the weight it helped you lose?

The simple answer is: you won’t gain back weight in the areas where the liposuction was performed. Why? Because after adolescence, you cease to produce new fat cells—so, once you’re through your teen years, the number of fat cells in your body stays the same for the rest of your life. When you gain or lose weight as an adult, you’re not gaining and losing fat cells; rather, the fat cells you have are filling up or flattening out like little balloons.

Liposuction changes all this by removing fat cells from particular areas altogether. Once those cells are gone, they can’t come back. This means that if you gain weight after liposuction, the fat will be stored somewhere else in your body, in places where fat cells have not been taken out. So the benefit of liposuction is that the silhouette it creates for your body is more or less permanent—even if you gain some weight, you won’t go back to having the disproportionate pouches of fat that led you to seek out the procedure in the first place.

That said—there are limits to what lipo can achieve. A moderate amount of weight gain should not be extremely problematic; extreme weight gain, on the other hand, will be. Part of having liposuction performed is making a commitment to maintain a healthier lifestyle. If you gain enough weight in the months or years following the procedure, you may not like the way your weight begins to redistribute itself.

Ultimately, liposuction is not a substitute for healthy life choices. However, if you think you’re up to the challenge of staying on top of your nutrition and fitness, it can make a world of difference for your appearance—and  your self-esteem!