Tummy Tuck # 2. How Can You Tell if You Have Fat Around Your Internal Organs?

or if its regular fat that can be lipo,d

Doctor Answers 6

Tummy Tuck

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Hi there,

That is a really interesting question. Certainly a proper examination by your plastic surgeon should be able to distinguish between intra-abdomina fat and fat under the skin. But it is sometimes difficult to demonstrate this to a patient.

The best way to objectively show this would be with a CT scan looking at a cross section through the middle of your abdomen.

It is quite  common, where patients who are not yet at their ideal body weight, are referred for a tummy tuck thinking that it is the solution to their problem, when really their abdominal bulge is being caused by intra abdominal contents.

A tummy tuck, and liposuction for that matter, can only address the fat that lies between the skin and the tummy wall. Fat around the organs, within the abdomen cannot be accessed with a tummy tuck.

Hope that helps


Richard Bloom

Plastic Surgeon 

Melbourne, Australia

Board Chairman Plastic Surgery


Intra-abdominal fat

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Most fat is subcutaneous, which is why it can be liposuctioned.  Deep fat would be suggestive of obesity and this would not be treated by liposuction. 

Intra or Extra Abdominal Fat

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Great question.  Intra-abdominal fat is the fat around the organs that is below your abdominal wall muscles. This fat is bad for your health, cannot be liposuctioned and requires diet and exercise to address.  Extra-abdominal fat is the fat between the outside of the abdominal wall muscles and your skin. This fat can be liposuctioned to improve contour.  Distinguishing between the two is quite simple. Remember the old adage that..".if you can pinch an inch..."  Extra abdominal fat can be pinched and felt beneath the skin. Intra abdominal fat is everything behind the muscle. If your abdomen pooches out more than you can pinch, then you likely have some intra-abdominal fat.

Subcutaneous fat vs. visceral fat

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If you see a plastic surgeon in consultation, he/ she can easily tell whether your fat is predominantly visceral ( in the abdomen) or subcutaneous (just under the skin) which is amenable to liposuction. 

Hope this helps. 

All fat isn't created equal!

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Dr. Gill has it right and to the point.  Couldn't have said it better myself!  

Elan B. Singer, MD
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Visceral vs. Subcutaneous Fat

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This can be easily determined by your plastic surgeon during an exam.

1. Subcutaneous Fat: Between the skin and muscle.  It can be pinched and responds well to liposuction or tummy tuck.

2.  Visceral Fat:  Between Muscle and Organs.  It cannot be pinched and only responds to diet and exercise.

I hope this helps.

Dr. Gill

Paul S. Gill, MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 95 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.