Belly fat is a complicated beast, made up of both visceral fat and subcutaneous fat with visceral fat being the fat around your internal organs, while subcutaneous fat is the fat just under the skin. We can only liposuction subcutaneous fat, leaving the visceral fat up to you to manage.
Subcutaneous fat isn’t dangerous, unlike visceral fat. Visceral fat is linked with diabetes and heart disease, which are bigger problems than having a high body mass index (BMI).
Why? We don’t know. It is theorised that visceral fat can result in inflammation, which in some circles is thought to be the underlying cause of many chronic illnesses. Subcutaneous fat weighs you down, but isn’t otherwise particularly hazardous to health.
How do you know what kind of fat you have?
If you have a big belly, try to pinch it. If you get a big chuck in your hand, it is most likely subcutaneous fat. If you don’t get a big chunk, it’s probably visceral fat, which lies underneath your abdominal muscles.
Research has shown that how you lose fat may be just as important as how much fat you lose. Abdominal fat is a strong warning of possible future health problems. People with big bellies are more at risk than someone who have more fat deposits in other areas of the body.
A 2004 study demonstrated that people can lose 13kg or more subcutaneous fat instantly using liposuction surgery, but did not have any of the health benefits that are normally associated with weight loss – lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels and greater insulin sensitivity. You can’t get liposuction surgery on visceral fat – that must be done the slow way, by reducing caloric intake and exercising.
Interestingly, one in four obese people appear to have spot-on cholesterol levels, blood pressure and insulin sensitivity – as if all that fat didn’t make a lick of difference. This means you can’t predict whether a person with a big belly will have health problems without all the tests to see what’s going on in your blood.
If you have a BMI over 30, then you will probably not be permitted to undergo liposuction surgery procedures, and will need to lose some weight beforehand. This is a safety issue.
Why this is important is because if you are undergoing liposuction surgery, but have a lot of visceral fat, then you are still at risk of health problems. When you visit your doctor to discuss your liposuction surgery, you should make sure to discuss visceral and subcutaneous fat, and get testing done. If you come back with risk factors like high cholesterol, blood sugar dysregulation, and high blood pressure, then you should take other measures to improve these numbers after your liposuction surgery.
Using diet to manage visceral fat
Your diet matters when it comes to visceral fat – there was a Brazilian study that found women who underwent liposuction surgery had an increase in visceral fat after the procedure, however diet could manage this fat.
If you are undergoing liposuction surgery at our Melbourne clinic, you need to have a diet and exercise plan in place, preferably before you start, to manage visceral fat accumulations over your lifetime. We can help you with a plan.
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