For most of us, fat is fat. It has the power to instantly make us feel unattractive and tell us we’re not up to par with our diet and fitness regimen. Ugh. But to a doctor, all fat isn’t created equal. Who knew there were different types of fat on our bodies and that each requires a different treatment plan to get rid of it. Here, we get the scoop to steer you in the right direction so you know exactly what to do in order to get the body you want.
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Atlanta plastic surgeon Carmen M. Kavali, MD, says this type of fat sits happily under the skin with few dense connections. You see it most on the abdomen and outer thighs—it’s the jiggly stuff that you can pinch easily. “This ‘soft’ fat typically responds well to diet and exercise, but if you’re not seeing results with a regular routine, cryolipolysis [nonsurgical fat-freezing technology, such as CoolSculpting] is a great option to treat it. It’s also easily removed with just about any type of liposuction.” SculpSure, a relatively new laser treatment, can also target and remove this type of fat by heating it up to the point that it dies off and gets eliminated from the body naturally, which offers another noninvasive alternative.
This type of fat is more dense and challenging to treat. Naturally found on the upper back in particular (think pesky under-bra rolls), this type can be treated with any type of liposuction, but Dr. Kavali says it’s best treated by liposuction combined with an energy source, like power-assisted, laser-assisted or ultrasound-assisted liposuction. “The energy source helps to break through the dense fibrous connections and release the fatty tissue. Cryolipolysis is also a good option for this type of fat, but may require more than one treatment for full correction, depending on the thickness and density of the fat.”
“This is the firm fat, primarily in the abdomen, that lives below our muscles and surrounds our internal organs like our heart and intestines,” explains Dr. Kavali. Having more visceral fat can result in higher LDL levels (“bad” cholesterol) and blood pressure, which can be dangerous to a person’s health. “It can only be treated by diet and exercise,” adds the doctor. This means eating a diet high in whole grains, lean proteins, fresh fruits and vegetables, and cutting way down on alcohol and miscellaneous sugars that don’t provide nutrients and tend to result in visceral fat.
Made up of fat in tiny dimple compartments—fibrous bands attach to the skin and create pockets, which act like walls to contain pockets of fat, and the attachments pull on the surface of the skin, creating dimples—cellulite is best treated by a procedure that breaks down those fibrous walls and gets rid of the fat at the same time. Cellfina, a minimally invasive procedure that breaks up the bands that create cellulite, can produce smoother skin after just one treatment. “About 85 percent of women have cellulite, and good hydration may help reduce the appearance of it, but diet and exercise cannot remove it,” says Dr. Kavali. “There’s probably a Nobel Prize awaiting the person who effectively and permanently solves the cellulite problem.”
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