Liposuction may let doctors extract body fat, but it doesn’t trim the risk of heart disease or diabetes the same way losing weight would, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis reported.

Although volunteers lost 12 percent of their body weight — most of it fat tissue — their blood pressure, insulin levels, cholesterol levels and other risk factors for heart and blood sugar problems remained unchanged.

“They’re still obese. But had they lost that same amount of weight by dieting, they would have exhibited considerable improvements in their cardiovascular risk factors,” Samuel Klein, director of the university’s Center for Human Nutrition, told Reuters.

The finding means liposuction is no substitute for weight loss produced by diet and exercise, he said.

Liposuction is performed on nearly 400,000 people in the United States each year, making it the most common cosmetic operation in the country.

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