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Understanding body fat

When you look in the mirror and see bulgy areas you wish could go away, your mind quickly goes to either dieting (or other weight loss programs) or fat removal by body contouring, of which liposuction is the commonest method.

But does each method work in all situations. The simple is no and a basic understanding of body and its contribution to body weight can help you understand what can work for you.

Body weight is derived from a few components, which are your body fat, muscle mass, bone density and amount of water. No wonder there is a huge weight gain in people retaining fluid and doctors weigh them as part of monitoring their response to treatment with water tablets. Also, the popular joke that rugby players are obese become understandable when you think of their BMI (Body Mass Index) being high due to their muscle mass. This shows that fat is only one part of the picture when we talk about body weight but why are we all focused about reducing body fat to achieve weight loss.

The answer lies in understanding the types of body fat. There are two types of body fat – visceral fat and subcutaneous fat.

Visceral fat lies under the muscle and deep down inside the tummy and chest. It is a heavy, dense and fibrous fat, which contributes more to body weight than subcutaneous fat. Body contouring procedures cannot reach visceral fat but the good news about visceral fat is that is very responsive to metabolic changes in our body, which means it is quickly used up with exercise or weight loss diet and more is deposited with overeating.

Subcutaneous fat lies just under the skin. It is usually lightweight and ‘wobbly’ creating folds and rolls like bingo arms, bra flabs, muffin top and tummy apron. Its response to body’s metabolic changes is very low which is why after exercising and dieting, you may still find pockets of fat that won’t go away. This is the reason for one interesting observation in people’s body weight. Weight gain by fat increase is usually uniform (causes increase in both visceral and subcutaneous fat) but weight loss, sadly, does not follow the same pattern – often a lot of the subcutaneous fat refuses to go away. The good news, though, is that body contouring procedures are effective not only in removing the subcutaneous fat but also provides the opportunity to sculpt the body by leaving fat where you desire it and removing where you do not.

There are simple ways you can guess whether you carry more visceral fat than subcutaneous fat. If you are obese with a potbelly, it is likely that you have more visceral fat and would benefit from weight loss. On the other hand, if you are athletic, or just about a stone or two overweight and noticed some rolls or bulges, you are more likely to have subcutaneous fat and will be an ideal candidate for liposuction.

Ultrasound scan can also be used for assessment.  The ratio of visceral to subcutaneous fat can be estimated and assess the structure of the subcutaneous fat. The use of ultrasound scan in our clinic has not only helped in convincing our clients in choosing the right approach but also monitor progress of their treatment or weight loss.

 

 

 

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