June 15, 2021

The Battle of the Bulge: Beating Visceral Fat!

Visceral fat is found inside the abdominal cavity and closely wraps around our vital organs such as the liver, kidneys, and intestines. When a doctor examines you, it is hard to judge how much visceral fat you have, but a protruding belly and a large waistline are signs that you have too much visceral fat. Visceral fat or intra-abdominal fat cannot be reached during plastic surgery operations. On the other hand, the fat under the skin and in front of the abdominal muscles can be reached during surgery, removed when excessive, and contoured to improve the body’s shape. Visceral fat can be a plastic surgeon’s nemesis because it prevents you and your surgeon from achieving the best results! Losing the visceral fat improves the cosmetic results of surgery and reduces the risks as well.


Diagram of types of fat: visceral and subcutaneous

Carrying around too much Visceral Fat can lead to Serious Health problems.

In addition to hurting your cosmetic surgery results, when someone carries around too much visceral fat, this condition can lead to additional serious health problems. Excessive visceral fat has been linked to higher risks of getting type 2 diabetes mellitus, Insulin resistance, heart disease and certain cancers. Inflammatory markers and certain hormones are elevated in people with increased visceral fat. Over many years, these hormones can promote long lasting inflammation and increase the risks of chronic diseases, such as, plaque formation in blood vessels. Plaques forming in arteries can partially or completely block blood flow. When this series of events happens in your coronary arteries, it is called a heart attack.

What’s the Best Way to Estimate Visceral Fat?

The oldest known way to estimate visceral fat is to simply take a tape measure and measure the size of the waistline. At Harvard, they found that when a woman develops a waistline greater than 35 inches around, the visceral fat content is so high that it puts that person at risk of health problems later in life. Similarly, you can expect health problems in men with a waistline greater than 40 inches. Using a tape measure is not accurate, however, when planning plastic surgery. Therefore, plastic surgeons use other ways to assess visceral fat.

The most accurate way to assess visceral fat is to use medical imaging. In fact, the best way to see how much visceral fat someone has is to use a CT scan or MRI. These modalities are expensive and time-consuming so not every patient or surgeon will have the luxury of ordering these tests before plastic surgery. Therefore, I prefer to use the calculation of the body mass index to assess visceral fat and the risks to my patients. It is known that a high body mass index implies a high volume of visceral fat and higher risks when having any kind of surgery.

How do Plastic Surgeons Estimate Visceral Fat?

Typically, during consultation the surgeon would calculate a patient’s body mass index and discuss these findings. It is preferred that a patient have a body mass index below 30, which generally indicates a lower level of visceral fat and less operative risks. However, when the body mass index calculation reveals a number higher than 30, we can expect a higher amount of visceral fat which will limit how small the waistline can become after surgery and ultimately hurt the cosmetic results of our operations.

What are the Complications of Excessive Visceral Fat?

We have already mentioned some of the more general complications from excessive visceral fat which can include heart disease, diabetes, stroke, breast cancer, and colon cancer. In plastic surgery, excessive visceral fat volume can lead to higher risks of wound healing problems such as delayed wound healing and infection can. Difficulty breathing after tummy tuck surgery is another serious complication with high visceral fat, which can cause patients to be admitted to the hospital. Additionally, when the visceral fat volume is excessive, the patient may not look good in terms of the level of contouring achieved.

How can I Reduce my Visceral Fat Before Plastic Surgery?

Visceral fat can be reduced, but not through plastic surgery. Reducing visceral fat can be accomplished with improvements in diet and increased exercise. It is up the patient before surgery to work on lowering the visceral fat content, which will lower the risks of surgery, and give them a better-looking body after liposuction and tummy tuck surgery.

A low carbohydrate diet is of the most effective ways to reduce visceral fat. In fact, a low carbohydrate diet is the most effective way to lose visceral fat. Many studies show that low-carbohydrate diets are more effective at reducing visceral fat than low-fat diets. Many doctors recommend a ketogenic diet which is a very low carbohydrate diet and is effective at reducing visceral fat. Ketogenic diets, which drastically reduce carbohydrate intake, and replace it with fat, may also help reduce visceral fat. When planning to lose visceral fat, it important to increase soluble fiber. One study showed that increasing soluble fiber by 10 grams per day reduced risks of visceral fat gain by 3.7%.

Switching from carbohydrates to a protein heavy diet can help to burn more calories and reduce visceral fat. Increased dietary protein can increase the feeling of fullness, fending off hunger, and reducing the hormones in your body that make you feel hungry.

Increased protein intake also boosts your metabolism, which promotes weight loss. Studies demonstrate people who eat more protein tend to have lower body mass index, carry less visceral fat, have smaller waistlines, and even better “good” cholesterol levels. Consuming more meat, fish, eggs, dairy, and legumes are one way to increase protein in your diet.

Importantly, there are some things all patients who are were worried about visceral fat should avoid! This includes alcohol, especially red wine, and simple sugars such as fructose, and trans fats such as those found in vegetables oil, baked goods, and potato chips.

Aerobic exercise is also very important to reduce visceral fat. Studies have shown that aerobic exercise burns a lot of calories and allows patients to lose visceral fat even without dieting. In addition to exercising, reducing your stress levels and getting plenty of sleep has been found to reduce visceral fat levels.

Should you Lose Weight Before Surgery to Reduce Visceral Fat?

Yes, if you know your visceral fat content is too high and want to reduce the risks of surgery and improve your body contouring results, then losing visceral fat before plastic surgery will be recommended by your surgeon. You can calculate your body mass index at home and if your body mass index is above 30, then you should seriously consider losing weight and reducing your visceral fat content.

When you contact Guerra Plastic Surgery Center, Scottsdale, Arizona, we can help calculate your BMI. You will need to provide your current height and weight. We put safety first! If you’re interested in tummy tuck surgery, body contouring after major weight loss, thigh lift, arm lift, lower body lift, then please contact our office at (480) 382-4995.


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