Published: January 27, 2021
Last updated: February 18, 2022
Weight loss and physical activity are hot topics. Heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and high cholesterol levels are just some of the health risks correlated to high levels of body fat. Weight management and getting adequate amounts of aerobic exercise and high intensity exercise should be a priority for everyone. Once, however, you have done the work to achieve a healthy and balanced lifestyle, you may be looking for a little extra help getting rid of some of those stubborn fat areas. This is where the plastic surgeon can come in.
What is body fat?
When we think about fat from a cosmetic perspective we tend to focus on the fat that sits more superficially (closer to the skin). This is called subcutaneous fat and it’s what many people estimate their body fat levels from.
There is another type of fat called visceral fat that surrounds all of our organs. This fat is highly correlated to overall health regardless of body weight and visual body fat levels. This type of fat serves as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease (like high blood pressure), insulin resistance (like diabetes), and high triglyceride and cholesterol levels.
An underweight individual with poor diet and exercise habits can have high levels of visceral fat which puts them at a significantly higher risk for health problems. Overweight and obese individuals usually have high levels of both subcutaneous and visceral fat. There is an essential amount of fat all men and women must maintain for homeostasis (appropriate body function), and this number varies by individual.
Brown fat and white fat are two more types of adipose tissue. Brown fat is like hibernation fat. Well kind of. It’s very prevalent in babies and declines with age. It is more common in lean adults, and becomes more metabolically active in colder temperatures. White fat contributes to energy storage and hormone regulation.
Do men and women carry fat differently?
The short answer is yes. The long answer is a bit more complex. We all know it’s generally easier for men to recomposition their bodies with exercise and diet changes. Men naturally have lower body fat levels and this is primarily related to hormones. Fat tissue plays a major role in hormone production and regulation. Since women undergo significant hormonal cycles related to their period, they naturally need to maintain a higher level of body fat.
Men are genetically predisposed to holding fat in their midsections, whereas women are more likely to store fat in their lower body (think hips, buttocks, and thighs).
What are the main cosmetic concerns related to excess body fat?
Fat tissue is universal, but there are some differences in fat distributions based on body area. Let’s look at some fat specifics.
- Arm Fat: The posterior (back side) of the arm is more prone than the front of the arm to storing and showing fat accumulations.
- Belly Fat: Belly fat is common as body weight levels increase. Men in general and older individuals are more prone to storing fat in their midsections.
- Buttocks Fat: The buttocks contain some of the larger muscle groups in the body, which can affect the appearance of fat tissue. Women are more likely to store fat in the buttocks region.
- Leg Fat: Fat tissue in the legs typically collects on the front of the thighs, and in the upper leg more so than the lower leg. Women are more likely to store fat in the legs than men.
- Submental Fat: The submental fat pad is a specific collection of fat tissue just below the chin. It can genetically appear more full or be affected by weight gain.
The Anatomy of Belly Fat
Who may wish to seek cosmetic treatment for excess fat?
Body weight and body fat levels are intrinsically correlated. Muscle mass of course contributes to body weight as well (that’s why elite athletes can be considered overweight on the BMI scale). We’ll leave the concerns over excessive muscle to the professionals, however, and focus on excess body fat. Cosmetic treatments for body fat can assist with losing those last few stubborn areas and refining the overall body contour. Cosmetic body fat reduction is not a substitute for a healthy lifestyle, but can assist in meeting your personal aesthetic goals.
How can someone remove their excess body fat?
When it comes to ditching the stubborn areas of body fat, there are both surgical and non-surgical options. Liposuction and less invasive techniques can be utilized depending on the body area:
- Arm Fat: A few different Liposuction techniques can be used. Liposculpture, Tumescent Liposuction, Laser Assisted Liposuction, Radiofrequency Assisted Liposuction, SmartLipo, and SlimLipo can all help to slim and define the upper arm. A RF energy procedure like BodyTite™ or truSculpt® can also help.
- Belly Fat: Liposuction via Liposculpture, Tumescent Liposuction, Laser Assisted Liposuction, Radiofrequency Assisted Liposuction, SlimLipo, Ultrasound Assisted Liposuction, Water Jet Assisted Liposuction, and Power Assisted Liposuction, and non-surgical fat reduction like Lipodissolve, CoolSculpting (Cryolipolysis), BodyTite™, truSculpt®, and SculpSure are possible solutions.
- Leg Fat: Liposuction through Liposculpture, Tumescent Liposuction, Laser Assisted Liposuction, Radiofrequency Assisted Liposuction, Ultrasound Assisted Liposuction, Water Jet Assisted Liposuction, Power Assisted Liposuction, SmartLipo, and SlimLipo, and non-surgical fat reduction like Lipodissolve, CoolSculpting (Cryolipolysis), SculpSure, BodyTite™, truSculpt®, and Zerona are available solutions.
- Submental Fat: Liposuction with Tumescent Liposuction, Power Assisted Liposuction, Laser Assisted Liposuction, Radiofrequency Assisted Liposuction, SmartLipo, and SlimLipo and non-surgical fat reduction via CoolSculpting (Cryolipolysis), SculpSure, Mesotherapy, and Lipodissolve can reduce under chin fat deposits.
For a comprehensive look at treatment options, check out our guide to body contouring solutions.
Excess fat isn’t just a matter of looking good. It’s also a matter of recognizing possible health risks. A high level of body fat is a risk factor for heart disease, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, and poor health outcomes. Fat cells are critical to many body processes, but in excess become harmful. Cosmetic procedures for reducing body fat are meant to be considered once you have achieved a healthy lifestyle, and want a little extra help getting rid of those stubborn fat areas.
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- Paul Cohen, Bruce M Spiegelman Cell Biology of Fat Storage PubMed.gov; 2016-08-15
- GB Forbes Body Fat Content Influences the Body Composition Response to Nutrition and Exercise PubMed.gov; 2000-05-01
- Mayo Clinic Staff Cellulite mayoclinic.org
- American Academy of Dermatology Association Cellulite Treatments: What Really Works? aad.org
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