While most people who undergo cosmetic plastic surgery procedures such as liposuction and tummy tucks are happy to get rid of their unwanted fat, they probably don't think about - or care - where it ends up.
But some scientists are trying to change that and are actively gathering as much unwanted fat leftover from surgeries as possible, according to The Telegraph. The reason - they say it is extremely useful to researchers. In another recent article, the news source reports fat is needed for various scientific studies on exercise, obesity and other topics. Some scientists are also working to turn it into stem cells, which can then be used to find treatments for serious medical conditions such as diabetes, cancer and other diseases.
Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) have long been using unwanted fat for stem cell research. Just recently, one Los Angeles-based plastic surgeon started asking liposuction patients to consider donating their unwanted fat to science. In a press release, he says that more than 80 percent of the fat cells he removes during liposuction procedures remain viable for 96 hours in the lab, making the partnership one that has far-reaching medical implications.
"Scientists from UCLA can use this fat to advance their stem cell research," he explained in the release. "After a patient has surgery, our services will anonymously donate the excess fat. Patients can benefit with the knowledge that they can both enhance their physical appearance and potentially help others lead healthy and active lives."
How much fat is available? According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), liposuction has remained a common cosmetic procedure in recent years. In 2011, more than 325,000 liposuction surgeries were performed by ASAPS members, making it the most commonly performed cosmetic surgical procedure.