How Can You Determine if Fat is Abdominal or Not?

I am scheduled for a TT on June 15th. I am worried that my fat is abdominal fat and not "loose" fat--thereby hindering my positive results. How can I tell what kind of fat I have?!?!

Doctor Answers 11

Types of abdominal fat

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When I gently pinch abdominal skin, I'm also pinching the subcutaneous fat under the skin.  The subcutaneous fat is superficial and may be removed with liposuction or a tummy tuck.  Fat that is deep to the abdominal muscles, otherwise known as intraabdominal fat, surrounds the internal organs.  This deep fat is not able to be removed with cosmetic surgery.  Women tend to carry their fat in the subcutaneous layers and men tend to carry their fat in the deep abdominal layers.  Excess deep fat is also associated with an increased risk of heart disease.

Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 62 reviews

Intra-abdominal vs Subcutaneous Fat

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Intra-abdominal fat cannot be removed by either liposuction or tummy tuck.  Only subcutaneous fat can be removed with these procedures.  Subcutaneous fat can be pinched when you tighten your abdominal muscles, intra-abdominal fat cannot.  This simple exam determines who is a good candidate for these abdominal procedures.  A patient with a distended abdomen due to large amounts of intra-abdominal fat will not have a good result from either liposuction or a tummy tuck.  Ideally, patients should be at or near their ideal body weight to avoid disappointing results.  Hope this helps.    

Brian M. Braithwaite, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon

Removable fat by Tummy Tuck

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The fat that is modified by a Tummy Tuck is the subcutaneous fat (that between the skin and the muscle). The only way to modify the fat beneath the muscle and around the gut is by diet. This should be done before considering an Abdominoplasty. This makes the procedure much safer and allows us to better mold your abdomen and waist. The way to tell which fat is which is to stand and tighten your abdominal muscles or lay with your shoulders off what you are laying on. With tight muscle you can tell how prominent your abdomen is. You can also grab your superficial fat and move it over the muscle to determine how much external fat you have. If most of your girth is beneath the muscles, then you need to lose weight before considering a Tummy Tuck.

Robert T. Buchanan, MD
Highlands Plastic Surgeon

Where is the fat?

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A good tummy tuck candidate has loose skin and fat outside the abdominal cavity.  If you can grab and pinch or hold the loose skin and fat in your hands, then it's outside the abdominal cavity.  You your skin/fat seems tight but you have a bulging belly, it's because of fat and volume inside your abdominal cavity.


Martin Jugenburg, MD

Martin Jugenburg, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 521 reviews

Abdominal Fat

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Great question.  Fat that can be removed during a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) can be grabbed or pinched with your hand.  You can move it up and down when you grab it.  Abdominal fat (internal fat) is deep and you cannot grab it.  Hopefully this simple test helps you.


Good Luck.

Pinch your skin

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You can not pinch the fat behind the ab muscles. You can tighten the muscles to get a more accurate pinch. The pinched part can be removed with lip. The fat behind the muscle will stay and can be lost by loosing wight. Good luck with your surgery.

Moneer Jaibaji, MD
San Diego Plastic Surgeon

Is my Tummy Fat UNDER the Skin or INSIDE my Belly

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What you can pinch is fat that is under the skin. This, subcutaneous fat, can be reduced by liposuction and, if located between the belly button and your privates, it will be removed with a Full Tummy Tuck.

You are doing the  right thing by consulting a Plastic surgeon. A good surgeon will advise you what would be the best procedure for you.

Peter A Aldea, MD

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon

Determination of Fat Location in Abdomen

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Your plastic surgeon, assuming he or she is reasonably experienced, should be able to determine if your abdominal fat is subcutaneous or intra-abdominal.  This is, as you have alluded to, a very important determination to make.  Again if you are seen by an experienced board-cerified plastic surgeon, he or she can usually make this distinction.



John Whitt, MD (retired)
Louisville Plastic Surgeon

Abdominal fat and Tummy Tuck

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Intra bdominal fat will not respond to a Tummy Tuck procedure.  If you have a protuberant, rounded shape and your tummy does not assume a flatter, more concave shape while lying on your back,  the fat is more likely intaabdominal  and will not be effected by the procedure.

Stephen Delia, MD
Boston Plastic Surgeon

Is fat over or under the muscle

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A good way to determine the location of the fat on the abdomen is to tighen the Ab muscles and pinch the skin.  Whatever you can feel is on top of the muscle and will respond to the tummy tuck.  Your plastic surgeon should be able to help you more with your question, as he can show you during the examination.

Beverly Friedlander, MD
Short Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.