Abdominal fat is normal. It acts as a cushioned pad that protects your stomach and your internal organs. Sometimes, abdominal fat can alter the contours of the body. Your stomach has two types of fat: one that’s superficial (subcutaneous) and another that’s inside the abdominal cavity (visceral fat).
Subcutaneous abdomen fat is closer to your belly skin and is more of a cosmetic concern than a health concern. While visceral fat is found deeper inside the abdomen and is more dangerous for your health. Getting rid of abdominal fat may be done by regularly exercising, sticking to a healthy diet, and other lifestyle changes. Some people choose to have bariatric surgery or cosmetic surgery to help fight stubborn fat & excess tissues.
Dr Jeremy Hunt is one of the plastic surgeons in Australia. He has helped hundreds of patients address excess skin and fat using cosmetic procedures such as tummy tuck/ abdominoplasty, lipectomy, and liposuction.
The Australian Government has a NEW Medicare Item Number for a Tummy Tuck – abdominoplasty for some eligible post-pregnancy patients with 3cm+ Diastasis Recti (Split Tummy Muscles) if you are eligible and meet the new medical criteria. This new 30175 Medicare Item Number – is effective from 1st July 2022. Read the 30175 Medicare Item Number factsheet.
If you qualify for the 30175 Medicare item number you may also get a subsidy from your Health Fund. There will still be a significant out-of-pocket GAP as Private Tummy tuck – abdominoplasty surgery is NOT FREE.
What Are The Different Types of Abdominal Fat?
1. Subcutaneous Belly fat
Subcutaneous belly fat or subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) is the fat sitting right under the skin of your belly. This type of stomach fat forms a cushion-like layer just below the skin and makes up about 90% of your entire belly fat.
It’s very normal to have some amount of over-the-muscle fat; everyone is born with it. However, you start gaining more fat that’s subcutaneous when you:
- You eat more food than your body needs to keep you at a normal weight
- Live a sedentary lifestyle with little physical activity
- Have diabetes or insulin resistance
- Have a low body muscle mass
An excess of subcutaneous fatty tissue is usually more of a cosmetic concern than a health concern. It doesn’t necessarily increase your risk of serious diseases, but it can make you unhappy with the way your stomach and body look.
Although over-the-muscle fat isn’t as linked to chronic diseases as visceral fat, overall high levels of total body fat including belly fat can increase your risk of chronic health problems.
2. Visceral Belly Fat
Visceral fat or visceral adipose tissue (VAT) makes up about 10% of your total body fat. It’s found in the deeper layer of your belly and is known as harmful belly fat.
Visceral belly fat is found between your abdominal organs in an apron of tissue called the omentum. It surrounds internal organs much deeper in the stomach than subcutaneous fat like:
Visceral belly fat is harder to see than subcutaneous fat and it can increase the risk of serious health problems including:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Fatty liver disease
- Kidney disease
- Sleep apnoea
If you are overweight, you might have both excessive visceral and excessive subcutaneous fat.
How Do I Know Which Type of Belly Fat I Have?
Each body has different amounts of both types of belly fat. The subcutaneous fat is nearer to the surface than the visceral fat that’s stored inside your muscle wall.
You can tell which type of belly fat you have by knowing that the over the muscle belly fat is:
- The belly fat you can pinch with your thumb and forefinger
- Soft fat that can be seen when you poke your belly
On the other hand, visceral belly fat, also known as the “hidden fat”, isn’t as visible as subcutaneous fat.
You can estimate how much visceral belly fat you have by measuring your waistline and calculating your total body fat:
- 10% of your total body fat is visceral
- If you’re a woman and your waistline is around 90 cm or larger, you may have excess visceral belly fat
- The same if you’re a man and your waist measures about 100 cm or larger
Options for Losing Belly Fat without Surgery
Losing excess belly fat, whether visceral or subcutaneous, can have a big positive impact on your health.
Abs workouts and crunches can help you tone your stomach muscles and give them more definition. But these exercises alone won’t always get rid of your belly fat.
Fortunately, there’s more you can do to battle abdominal fat. You can adopt several simple strategies that can help you lose belly weight, including:
- A healthy diet: focus on a healthy balanced diet to lose weight and improve your overall health. Limit your intake of sugar, refined carbs, and saturated fat. Instead, eat more fruit, vegetables, and food rich in lean proteins
- Reduce your alcohol consumption: watch your alcohol consumption. Alcoholic drinks have sugar that can add to your belly weight
- Avoid sugary beverages: instead, try to drink water or beverages with artificial sweeteners
- Try relaxation methods: stress increases your cortisol hormone levels which can lead to more weight gain. Meditation and yoga exercises can help you relax and decrease your stress levels
- Quit smoking: smoking is a known risk factor for increased belly fat
- Engage in physical activities: a sedentary lifestyle can have many health complications including belly weight gain. Brisk walking, running, and resistance training are all very effective in helping you shed the extra weight
Belly fat can be stubborn and respond slowly to diet and exercise. Luckily, there are other options that can help you get rid of unwanted stomach fat.
How to Get Rid of Visceral Abdominal Fat
Committing to a steady and rigorous workout plan and a healthy diet is the best way to naturally get rid of the visceral fat in your belly. Nevertheless, you might also wish to opt for surgical removal of visceral fat tissue if you’re obese or overweight.
1. Bariatric surgery or Weight Loss Surgery
Weight loss surgeries, collectively known as bariatric surgery, can help to get rid of deep excessive fat deposits that couldn’t be removed by workouts and diet. These include:
- Gastric bypass or mini Gastric Bypass
- Sleeve gastrectomy or Gastric Sleeve
- Gastric balloon
- Biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch
Weight loss surgery can help reduce visceral fat by reducing your calorie intake and your total body fat. After bariatric surgery, your body will start consuming your fat stores for energy, including the fat inside your abdomen.
Dr Hunt does NOT perform Bariatric Surgery but can recommend several weight loss surgeons in Sydney.
The omentum is an apron of visceral fat tissue between the abdomen organs. An omentectomy is a surgical procedure that removes the visceral fat deep inside your belly. Theoretically, this surgery can get rid of visceral fat effectively. However, there’s no clinical application for it, and is not usually done for weight loss purposes. There’s very minimal cosmetic benefits from visceral fat removal surgery, and there’s no evidence that it can improve your health. So an omentectomy is usually only performed to treat specific abdominal medical conditions like obstruction or cancer. Dr Hunt does NOT perform Omentectomy.
To sum up, the optimal way to get rid of visceral belly fat remains through weight loss from either lifestyle changes or bariatric surgery.
Surgeries like tummy tuck – abdominoplasty, lipectomy, and liposuction, on the other hand, are options to help address subcutaneous fat.
How to Get Rid of Subcutaneous Belly Fat
Sometimes no matter how hard you exercise or how long you go on a diet, stubborn belly fat just won’t go away. Getting rid of excess subcutaneous fat after pregnancy or weight loss can be challenging. Dr Hunt is trained in a wide range of cosmetic procedures that can help you address this.
1. Abdominal Liposuction
Abdominal liposuction is one of the most common ways to get rid of stubborn over the muscle belly fat. It offers an alternative to a tummy tuck – abdominoplasty or a lipectomy, and may be combined with them sometimes.
Using a catheter, Dr Hunt will remove the extra subcutaneous fat from the front of your belly and the flanks. As a result, the stomach liposuction aims to achieve the following:
- Removes stubborn belly fat
- Flattens and tones the whole stomach
- Contours your abdomen
A belly lipo can alter your look by toning your mid-torso and flanks.
Guide to Tummy Tuck/Abdominoplasty
2. Abdominoplasty or Tummy tuck (can be combined with Liposuction)
Many plastic surgeons recommend having a BMI of less than 30 for the best cosmetic surgery results. If you have a large upper belly and lots of visceral fat – an abdominoplasty surgery will not provide a great result.
An abdominoplasty is a plastic surgery that removes excess fat and extra flaps of loose skin.
There are different types of procedures that Dr Hunt can perform to meet your specific goals.
3. Mini tummy tuck/abdominoplasty
A mini tuck surgery is a less invasive abdominoplasty. It involves your lower belly area only. A mini-abdominoplasty is performed to specifically address accumulated fat and lax skin located below your belly button.
During a mini abdominoplasty, Dr Hunt makes a small incision along your bikini line just above your pubic area that allows him to remove extra flaps of skin below the belly button.
A mini-abdominoplasty helps you to address postpartum abdominal concerns.
4. Traditional (Full) abdominoplasty
Traditional or classic abdominoplasty is a full abdominoplasty that addresses a larger area of the stomach compared to a mini tummy tuck – abdominoplasty. It targets excess skin and fat both above and below your belly button.
A full abdominoplasty involves a longer incision that extends from hip to hip. Through this incision, Dr Hunt will be able to:
- Remove extra fat and overhanging skin from the entire length of the abdomen
- Tighten the abdominal muscles above and below the belly button
- Tighten loose belly skin and get rid of some of the stomach stretch marks
Full tummy tuck – abdominoplasty surgery addresses a protruding tummy.
5. Extended tummy tuck/abdominoplasty
If your belly isn’t the only area with loose flaps of fat and tissue, then an extended abdominoplasty might be a suitable option for you.
This surgery can remove significant amounts of extra skin and fat tissue from your stomach, hips, and lower back.
Dr Hunt performs an extended abdominoplasty by making an incision low on your abdomen that extends from the hips to the back. As a result, he’s able to:
- Remove large amounts of excess fat and skin from the abdomen
- Repair any torn or loose muscles
- Get rid of stubborn love handles around the hips
Extended abdominoplasty surgery is a very effective procedure if you want to address your abdomen and alter your waistline.
These belly fat removal surgeries are options to remove excess subcutaneous fat in your belly but they cannot reach inside the abdominal wall to remove built-up visceral belly fat.
6. Fleur-de-lis tummy tuck/abdominoplasty
The fleur-de-lis, known as vertical abdominoplasty, is a more extensive type of abdominoplasty. It may be an appropriate surgery for you if you have very excessive amounts of stubborn belly fat and lax stomach skin.
During the fleur-de-lis abdominoplasty, Dr Hunt performs two skin incisions (a vertical incision and a bikini-line incision) which allow him to:
- Maximise excess fat and skin removal
- Tighten the abdomen in two directions
- Improve your waistline
Fleur-de-lis surgery aims to improve the contour of your whole stomach and provide a tighter overall appearance.
7. Belt lipectomy surgery
A belt lipectomy, or circumferential lipectomy, is a post weight loss surgery. It can remove extra tissue (fat and skin) from your belly, waist (beltline), and back – all in one procedure.
By performing a 360 belt abdominoplasty, Dr Hunt aims to:
- Remove stretched skin and fat flaps from the front of the stomach
- Remove saggy skin and fat tissue from the sides, hips, and back
- Lift the butt and outer hips
While an abdominoplasty focuses on the front of the stomach, a belt lipectomy can help to correct the appearance of your whole trunk from your chest down to your hips and all the way around your back.
Dr Hunt may also combine a circumferential lipectomy with other fat reduction surgeries such as an arm lift (brachioplasty), breast reduction (mammaplasty), thigh lift (thigh lipectomy), or liposuction.
Further Reading about Fat Removal Procedures
- Read Dr Hunt’s Tummy Tuck/ Abdominoplasty Surgery page
- Read Dr Hunt’s Patient Case Study of Tummy Tuck/ Abdominoplasty
- See Dr Hunt’s Real Tummy Tuck/ Abdominoplasty Patients Before and After Photos
- Read Dr Hunt’s blog about How to Minimise a Tummy Tuck/ Abdominoplasty Scar
- Read Dr Hunt’s blog about Recovery after Post Pregnancy Surgery
Medical References about Belly Fat Removal
- Subcutaneous adipose tissue & visceral adipose tissue – PMC
- Effect of diet with or without exercise on abdominal fat in postmenopausal women – a randomised trial – PMC
- Analysis of Subcutaneous and Visceral Fat After Gastric Balloon Treatment – PMC
- Short- and Long-Term Effects of Abdominal Lipectomy on Weight and Fat Mass in Females: a Systematic Review
About Dr Jeremy Hunt – Specialist Plastic Surgeon
Dr Jeremy Hunt is a specialist plastic surgeon performing breast, body, face and nose surgery in Australia. He is a member of FRACS & ASPS and has over 20 years of experience providing plastic surgery in Sydney.
Dr Hunt’s personal, one-on-one service and attention to detail has ensured that thousands of women and men from the Sydney & Wollongong NSW area and across Australia have received high quality surgical care.
Dr Hunt’s qualifications and education
Dr Jeremy A Hunt MBBS FRACS graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine degree from Sydney University in 1990 and is a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and member of ASPS – the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons. He completed a Fellowship at the prestigious University of Texas in the United States, where he learnt from some of the world’s very best plastic surgeons.
Next Step – Make an Enquiry or Request a consultation with Dr Hunt
Want more information before scheduling your consultation?
- Find out more about pricing, medical payment plans and paying for your surgery
- Request more information about the procedure – call on 1300 157 200 or contact us
- Make an Enquiry or Request a consultation with Dr Hunt
Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health professional.