Visceral vs. Subcutaneous Fat

There are few things more frustrating than putting a great deal of time and effort into something, yet still not seeing good results from your efforts. This is often the case when it comes to losing excess fat. You have a consistent exercise routine, maintain a low-fat diet, and restrict your food portions, yet there are still stubborn pockets of fat that just won’t go away despite your best efforts.

You may have heard about liposuction as a possible way to remove that excess fat. While it is true that liposuction can remove fat, the procedure can only remove a certain type of fat from your body. Our staff at Jefferson Plastic Surgery feels that it is important for prospective liposuction patients to understand the difference between visceral fat and subcutaneous fat before undergoing a liposuction procedure, as only one type of fat will respond to liposuction.

Visceral Fat

Visceral fat is found within the abdominal region, around the various organs such as the stomach, large and small intestines, and the liver. Visceral fat is the type that is implicated in terms of a variety of cardiac and metabolic health issues such as heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, high cholesterol, or stroke. It may also be connected to insulin resistance, which is one of the key components involved in developing diabetes. This type of fat cannot be removed by liposuction.

Although visceral fat won’t respond to liposuction, you can reduce the amount of visceral fat in your body. If your exercise routine involves at least 30 minutes of fat-burning exercise for at least five days of the week, you are already well on your way to reducing your body’s visceral fat and improving your health. Adding in a low-fat diet will boost your fat-burning ability even further.

Subcutaneous Fat

In comparison, subcutaneous fat lies under the surface of the skin. You can easily determine the location of your subcutaneous fat with a simple pinch test. If you lie on your back and pinch an area of your abdomen, the subcutaneous fat will be the excess that prevents your abdomen from being completely flat. This subcutaneous fat can also be measured with calipers to determine your body fat index (BMI). Although subcutaneous fat does not present the same health risks as visceral fat, it is the fat that collects in those stubborn areas and may not respond to exercise or diet. When we talk about liposuction as a means to remove excess fat, we are talking about subcutaneous, fat.

The Liposuction Procedure

For an abdominal liposuction procedure, your surgeon will start by making a series of small incisions in the area where fat is being removed. A thin, hollow metal tube (called a cannula) is then inserted through these incisions to vacuum out the excess fat. In some cases, ultrasound or laser devices may be used to help break up the fat cells beforehand, making them easier to remove. A technique known as tumescent liposuction is also popular. In this technique, an injection of a topical anesthetic and epinephrine is made just under the surface of the skin, which causes the fat cells to swell and move closer to the skin’s surface. This makes them easier to remove.

If you have gone to all the hard work of losing weight and trying to get into better shape, you want to be able to proudly show off the results of your efforts. A liposuction procedure can help you do so. Of course, the added benefit is that you have reduced your subcutaneous and your visceral fat, so you have improved yourself on both the inside and the outside! 

Questions? Email us today.

To make or reschedule an appointment please complete the form below or call:  (215) 625-6630.

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Jefferson Plastic Surgery is located on the corner of 9th and Walnut streets in Center City, Philadelphia on the 15th floor of the Wills Eye Hospital Building.

Jefferson Plastic Surgery
840 Walnut Street - 15th Floor
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107
Phone: (215) 625-6630
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