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Soldiers turning to liposuction to keep jobs

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Plastic surgeons are seeing more military personnel coming in. They need work done so they can pass fitness standards, which is raising concerns.

What if your job depended on the size of your neck? That's the case for some military personnel in our area who are now taking drastic measures to keep from being booted out.

"They have real issues on the line," said Dr. Robert Caridi, Westlake Plastic Surgery.

It's a scary reality Dr. Robert Caridi is now seeing all too often, and it's not always the body type you would expect.

"'Why are you seeking this service when all you really need to do is just lose 10 or 15 pounds and then you'll be in great shape?' Then they basically come clean and say 'hey, I'm trying to fulfill these requirements,'" said Dr. Robert Caridi, Westlake Plastic Surgery.

Over the past five years he's seen a significant increase in military women and men needing liposuction.

This procedure is somewhat of a last resort for those hoping to pass the Pentagon's body fat test, which relies on measurements of the neck and waist rather than body mass index.

"Sometimes it's a breast reduction procedure to make their breast smaller so that they're more functionable in camo and then under armour that they wear and issues like that. For men, it's liposuction of their chest area and their waist is a general issue," says Dr. Robert Caridi, Westlake Plastic Surgery.

Reports show the number of Army soldiers booted for being overweight has jumped tenfold in the past five years, for the Marine Corps numbers have doubled, which is why procedures like liposuction are being considered an option.

Retired Army Officer Matt Gardner says the pressure behind passing fitness requirements can sometimes be overwhelming. He almost failed a test himself and says there's a lot at stake.

"What generally occurs is once you fail a "tape test" you are flagged for positive action, how they call it in the Army. It could be something as simple as going in front of a promotion board, or getting a school that you maybe wanted to go to or something like that. Once you are on that track, it does hold you back from a couple of those things," said Matt Gardner, Chief Warrant Officer 4, Retired, Army.

Phil Stanforth is the executive director of Fitness Institute of Texas. He's been doing fitness tests since the 1970's and considers the "tape test" to be outdated.

"The tough part, I'm sure is that they want a test that's accurate but that's simple, easy and doesn't take high qualified personnel to do. So the circumference measures that they do with a tape measure, the reliability for different people to get the same results are good. A better technique is using something like skin folds, where you pinch the fat," said Phil Stanforth, executive director, Fitness Institute of Texas.

Stanforth says people are built bigger now and wonders if circumference measurements actually mean the same thing now as they did back then. Something Gardner says he would like military fitness tests to take into account in the future.

"The tape test is an older test; it may not be the most accurate thing out there. To improve on that, I think it would be a good thing," said Matt Gardner, Chief Warrant Officer 4, Retired, Army.

Beleza Surgery Center in Cedar Park tells us they are seeing a high volume of military personnel from Fort Hood.

Both women and men are getting smart lipo done, typically on their stomach to burn fat and tighten the area.

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