How do I know I have the type of abdomen fat that can be removed with lipo (or even the noninvasive "lipo"s)?

I am an average weight except I gain anything extra in my stomach. I have read liposuction cannot be used for the internal organ fat (visceral). Is there a way to tell if the fat is visceral or external? thanks

Doctor Answers 10

Internal Fat (visceral) vs. External (subcutaneous): Self Analysis and Surgeon Evaluation

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You can usually tell how much subcutaneous fat you might have by grasping and rolling skin and fat together with two hands. You may have to slump forward to keep the skin loose enough. If you are able to grab these layers, and especially if you can slide the whole thing up and down, you're holding external fat.

The fullness that doesn't move, that is deeper than the layers you are holding, is the abdominal wall. (Clench your abs to be sure.) This group of muscles contains the internal or visceral fat. If most of your fat is external, rather than internal, you can have it removed by surgery or nonsurgical methods. Surgery could include liposuction and or abdominoplasty. CoolSculpting is our preferred nonsurgical method.

You are correct that plastic surgery cannot remove visceral fat. A final consideration is abdominal wall looseness. Some abdomens are relatively firm and won't change much with deep muscle tightening, while others improve dramatically with suture tightening during abdominolasty. "Sucking in your stomach" can give you some idea of the amount of change possible.

After you've made your own diagnosis, consult an experienced board certified plastic surgeon and seek his or her opinion and recommendations.

Greenville Plastic Surgeon

Liposuction Stubborn Fat Invasive or Non Invasive

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Thank you for your question. I'm so pleased you are looking into ways to live your life healthier and happier. The simple answer is to make an appointment with a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon. A physical exam is necessary to  put you on the right path to achieve your goals. There are many methods of lipo on the market, that is for sure! Unfortunately the "non-invasive" does not have much credible research behind it. It's a nice concept but as of yet seems to be relatively ineffective. That being said, a healthy person tends to recover very quickly from traditional liposuction with nice results. I hope I was helpful to you and best of luck!

How do I know I have the type of abdomen fat that can be removed with lipo

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There are two maneuvers you can do at home to get an idea if the fat is in the skin and can be treated with liposuction. Lie down on a flat surface and if your tummy skin rises higher than your ribs, it is almost always due to the internal or visceral fat. The other way is to stand up, tighten your abs and grab your tummy fat. If it is visceral you will not be able to grab it. Of course the only way to totally answer your question is to see a surgeon.

Difference in Visceral and External Fat for Liposuction and Laser Fat Removal

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External fat is that which can be accessed for liposuction and laser fat removal such as Zerona and is external to the muscles. It is what you can pinch when you grasp the skin. Visceral fat is beneath the muscles of the abdomen and around the gut. You can tell if you have excess visceral fat if your tummy is anything but flat when you are laying flat of your back.

Robert T. Buchanan, MD
Highlands Plastic Surgeon

Visceral fat vs. subcutaneous fat

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Your question is very common and is best answered during a consultation with a Plastic Surgeon. Everyone has visceral and subcutaneous fat. The proportions and their distribution determine the best strategy for looking your best. Deciding if liposuction or non-invasive fat reduction options are good for you requires a consultation. 

Best regards,

Dr. Mosher

Abdominal fat

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Your question is good but liposuction will not remove visceral fat.  This requires exercise and diet but remember that liposuction is a contouring procedure and not a weight loss technique.  I would recommend you see a plastic surgeon who can guide you through this process so you can get the best result an correct information.

Examination of fat content

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Yes, there is visceral( within the abdominal cavity) fat that can not be treated with liposuction and the more superficial fat just above the muscular fascia and below the skin that can be treated with liposuction. An exam and demonstration in front of a mirror will help you.

Smartlipo candidate

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Thank you for your question, but it may help to have a picture as well. If you have areas of stubborn fat that will not go away with diet and exercise you may be a candidate for Smartlipo. My suggestion is to consult with a surgeon to find out if Smartlipo will benefit your body.

Bruce E. Katz, MD
New York Dermatologic Surgeon
3.8 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

How do I know I have the type of abdomen fat that can be removed with lipo (or even the noninvasive "lipo"s)?

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   A physical exam would be necessary to make this determination.  The good news is that it is rare for a person to have substantial visceral fat and very little subcutaneous fat amenable to liposuction.

Find a board certified plastic surgeon who performs hundreds of liposuction and liposuction revision procedures each year. Then look at the plastic surgeon's website before and after photo galleries to get a sense of who can deliver the results.

Kenneth Hughes, MD

Los Angeles, CA


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Thank you for the question.

To best help you, a physical examination or picture evaluation is best in order to determine which procedures and technique can be the best ones for your case.

Dr. Campos

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.