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Plastic Surgery Blog

The Difference between Visceral and Subcutaneous Fat


Obesity is a big problem in America. Most Americans are carrying around too much fat on their bodies. At any given moment a large proportion of the population is working to take that fat off in one way or another. All fat is not created equal, however. There are two types of fat that we talk about when we discuss weight loss. These are subcutaneous fat and visceral fat. What are these types of fat, and how do you successfully remove them from your body?

Visceral vs. Subcutaneous Fat

Visceral fat is the fat that surrounds your body's internal organs. It's located on the inside of your abdominal wall. It's not visible; if you jump up and down, it doesn't move or jiggle. The accumulation of visceral fat is strongly linked to metabolic disease and insulin resistance, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease. The more of it you have, the more likely it is that your health will be negatively impacted. Men have more visceral fat than women do.

Subcutaneous fat is the fat that you can see and pinch just underneath your skin. That's the fat that looks unsightly and jiggles. This type of fat isn't linked to serious medical conditions, but no one really wants to have love handles or rolls of fat on their abdomen, thighs, back, and buttocks either. The presence of subcutaneous fat can also be a sign of visceral fat because people with a lot of one type of fat often have lots of the other type as well.

Not everyone develops fat of either type the same. Some people have amazing genetics and don't put on weight or fat easily. Others work out and diet to keep fat from accumulating, but are still plagued with fatty deposits they can't quite eliminate. So how do you remove these fats?

Visceral fat has to be removed by your body burning fat stored as fuel via diet and exercise. This means doing the hard work of dieting, cardio and weightlifting. It's better if the weight loss is done steadily over time by establishing better habits and making permanent lifestyle choices. Too many people lose weight quickly but then put it on again when they return to their old habits, undoing all their hard work.

Subcutaneous Fat Removal

Not all subcutaneous fat can be removed with diet and exercise, unfortunately. People often discover that even though they have tried really hard to get into peak condition, there are still stubborn fat pockets they can't seem to get rid of. You can't target particular parts of your body for fat loss this way, sadly.

The only way to do targeted fat removal is through liposuction. During a liposuction procedure, the surgeon makes tiny incisions on the patient's body and removes fat deposits in these areas using a small tube called a cannula. This procedure is wonderful for removing the last remaining pockets of fat after the patient has achieved her weight loss goals. It works best in people who are young and have skin that is still elastic. Up to 5 liters of fat can be removed during one liposuction session.

Liposuction patients typically do not suffer much scarring because the incisions are small and a good plastic surgeon will place them strategically so that if any scarring does occur it will not be very visible. The fat cells that the surgeon removes will not grow back. They are gone forever. However, the success of the procedure long term depends on the patient maintaining a healthy weight and continuing to exercise. This is because fat can be deposited in other areas with weight gain, and it won't look good there either.

If you have visceral and subcutaneous fat that you want to get rid of, you should exercise and diet to remove what you can through natural means. When you have reached your goals for weight loss and you discover that there are spots on your body that still look lumpier than you would like, call us at Bancroft Feldman. We would love to discuss what liposuction can do to give you the slim and lovely silhouette you've been working to have. It is possible! Dr. Bancroft works this miracle for his patients all the time, and he can do it for you too.

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