Different Types of Belly Fat and How to Get Rid of It

By Dr Jake Lim – Plastic Surgeon | Updated: February 16, 2024

Types, Causes and Solutions for Belly Fat

Belly fat, also referred to as abdominal fat, can be a health concern linked to various chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Belly fat can be quite stubborn, and losing it requires more than just crunches and dieting. It requires an understanding of what it is, the different types, and how it affects your health.

Plastic Surgeon Dr Jake Lim regularly performs body contouring procedures such as abdominoplasty and liposuction for his patients in Sydney.

Dr Lim’s 2024 Excess Skin Guide

Excess Skin Guide

What Is Belly Fat?

Belly fat is the excess adipose tissue that accumulates around the waist. This extra fat can be hazardous as it not only makes your waist larger but also increases your risk for several health problems. Your abdominal area houses vital organs such as the liver, pancreas, and intestines, and the presence of excess fat in this area can interfere with their functioning.

You can’t see some belly fat. It’s hidden deep within the abdomen, surrounding your organs, while some of it, you can pinch – that’s the one you’re probably most familiar with. Both types pose health risks and require different approaches to lose effectively. Let’s look at these types in more detail.

Types of Belly Fat – Subcutaneous and Visceral

While all belly fat may seem the same, it’s not. There are two primary types of belly fat: subcutaneous and visceral fat. Subcutaneous fat is the kind you can pinch — it’s located just under your skin. It’s the fat that jiggles when you move and can be stubborn to lose. While it’s not exactly good for you, it’s less dangerous than visceral fat.

Visceral fat, on the other hand, is the one that poses significant health risks. It’s located deep within your abdomen, surrounding your organs. You can’t see or feel it, but it’s there, and it’s dangerous. Too much visceral fat can increase your risk for conditions like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and certain cancers.

Understanding the type of belly fat you have is crucial because it affects how you should approach your fat loss strategy.

The Dangers of Excess Abdominal Fat

It’s crucial to understand that all fat is not created equal. The location and types of fat your body stores are as important as the amount. And when it comes to belly fat, the dangers are high. Visceral fat, in particular, is a type of fat that’s metabolically active and can increase your risk of chronic illnesses.

Excess abdominal fat can cause inflammation and produce hormones that can drive up your risk of chronic conditions, including heart disease and diabetes. It can also interfere with hormones that regulate appetite, weight, mood, and brain function. Therefore, having too much belly fat can lead to metabolic disturbances and increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

More than this, visceral fat secretes proteins that can trigger chronic inflammation, an underlying cause of many diseases. So, belly fat is not just a cosmetic problem, it can be a health issue that needs attention.

Role of Diet and Exercise in Abdominal Fat Reduction

Diet and exercise play a significant role in reducing belly fat. A healthy diet is paramount in your fight against abdominal fat. Consuming a balanced diet that’s low in refined sugars and fats, and high in fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins can help reduce belly fat.

Exercise is another crucial component. Regular physical activity, especially aerobic exercises like walking, running, and swimming, can help reduce belly fat. Strength training exercises can also help by building lean muscle that can burn more calories, even at rest.

A comprehensive fitness program that includes cardio, strength training, and flexibility exercises, coupled with a healthy diet, is the most effective way to reduce fat.

However, it’s essential to understand that spot reduction — losing fat from one specific area — is not possible. When you lose weight, you lose it from all over your body, not just your belly.

Proven Techniques for Belly Fat Loss

Several proven techniques can help you lose abdominal fat. As mentioned, diet and exercise are the most important. However, other strategies can also be effective. These include intermittent fasting, reducing stress, getting enough sleep, and staying hydrated.

Intermittent fasting involves cycling between periods of eating and fasting, which can help you lose weight and belly fat. Reducing stress is also important as stress can trigger the release of hormones that promote fat storage in the belly. Similarly, getting enough sleep can help regulate your hormones and prevent weight gain.

Hydration is another essential factor. Drinking plenty of water can help you feel full and eat less, as well as boost your metabolism, helping you burn more calories.

Liposuction – A Surgical Solution for Belly Fat

If diet and exercise aren’t enough, or you’re looking for a localised solution, liposuction might be an option. Liposuction is a surgical procedure that removes fat from specific areas of the body, including the belly. It’s usually considered a cosmetic procedure, but it can also have health benefits by reducing your amount of belly fat.

But liposuction is not for everyone. It’s important to have realistic expectations and understand that liposuction is not a weight-loss method but a way to remove stubborn fat that doesn’t respond to diet and exercise. It’s also crucial to maintain a healthy lifestyle after the procedure to keep the weight off. Also, it’s important to mention that we can only target subcutaneous fat with liposuction, it does not affect visceral fat.

Abdominoplasty to Get Rid of Belly Fat

Extended Abdominoplasty Patient 2 — Front View
Extended Abdominoplasty Patient 2 — Front View

Abdominoplasty, also known as a tummy tuck, is another surgical option for stubborn belly fat. Unlike liposuction, which just removes fat, a tummy tuck also removes excess skin and tightens the abdominal muscles. This can result in a flatter, firmer abdomen.

Like liposuction, a tummy tuck – abdominoplasty is generally considered a plastic surgery procedure and not a weight-loss solution. It’s essential to maintain a healthy lifestyle after the surgery to prevent the fat from coming back.

Non-Surgical Techniques to Reduce Belly Fat

If surgery isn’t an option, there are also non-surgical techniques to reduce belly fat. These include CoolSculpting, which uses cooling technology to freeze and destroy fat cells, and SculpSure, which uses laser technology to heat and destroy fat cells.

These non-invasive procedures are an alternative to surgery for those who have smaller amounts of stubborn fat that doesn’t respond to diet and exercise.

Lifestyle Changes to Prevent Abdominal Fat Accumulation

Prevention is always better than cure, and this holds true for belly fat. Making lifestyle changes can prevent belly fat accumulation and reduce your risk of related health problems. Here are some changes you can make today:

  • Regular Physical Activity

Engaging in regular physical activity is one of the most effective ways to prevent the accumulation of abdominal fat. Cardiovascular exercises such as walking, jogging, cycling, and swimming help burn calories and improve metabolic rates. Strength training, on the other hand, builds muscle mass, which in turn boosts metabolism even when the body is at rest. It’s not just about the intensity of the workout; consistency is the key. Setting aside even 30 minutes a day for exercise can make a significant difference over time.

  • Embracing a Balanced Diet

A diet rich in whole foods, lean proteins, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates is crucial in preventing belly fat. Processed foods, sugary beverages, and excessive amounts lead to weight gain, especially in the abdominal area. It’s essential to be mindful of portion sizes and to prioritise nutrient-dense foods over empty-calorie options. Incorporating a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can provide the body with the necessary nutrients without the added calories. Additionally, staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water aids in digestion and helps curb unnecessary snacking.

  • Stress Management and Its Role

Chronic stress can be a significant contributor to belly fat accumulation. When the body is stressed, it releases the hormone cortisol, which can lead to increased appetite and cravings for unhealthy foods. Over time, this can result in weight gain, especially around the midsection. Finding healthy ways to manage stress, such as practicing yoga, meditation, deep breathing exercises, or even just taking regular breaks, can help regulate cortisol levels and prevent belly fat.

  • Prioritising Good Sleep Hygiene

Sleep plays a pivotal role in weight management. Lack of adequate sleep can disrupt the body’s hunger hormones, leading to increased appetite and poor food choices. Establishing a regular sleep routine, ensuring a comfortable sleep environment, and avoiding stimulants like caffeine and electronics before bedtime can promote better sleep quality. Aiming for 7-9 hours of sleep per night can help the body recover, regulate hormones, and ultimately prevent the accumulation of belly fat.

  • Limiting Alcohol and Sugary Beverages

While occasional indulgence is okay, excessive consumption of alcohol and sugary drinks can lead to weight gain. These beverages are often high in calories and provide little to no nutritional value. Reducing or eliminating these drinks and replacing them with water, herbal teas, or infused water can make a significant difference in calorie intake and abdominal fat prevention.

FAQs about Belly Fat and Plastic Surgery to Remove It


How much does it cost to remove belly fat?

  • The cost to remove belly fat varies based on several factors, including the geographical location, the plastic surgeon’s experience, the facility where the surgery is performed, and the specific procedure chosen. It’s essential to consult with Dr Lim’s team for an accurate estimate tailored to your needs.

What plastic surgery is the best to remove belly fat?

  • Liposuction is the most popular plastic surgery procedure to remove belly fat. It involves suctioning out fat from specific areas of the body, including the abdomen. Another option is a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty), which not only removes excess fat but also tightens loose skin and repairs weakened abdominal muscles. The best procedure depends on the individual’s needs, the amount of fat to be removed, and whether there’s any excess skin or muscle laxity.

Can belly fat be permanently removed?

  • Yes, the fat cells removed during plastic surgery procedures like liposuction are permanently removed from the body. However, it’s important to note that if a person gains a significant amount of weight after the procedure, new fat cells can develop or existing ones can expand. To maintain the results of the surgery, it’s crucial to adopt a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise and a balanced diet.

Can Cool Sculpting help me get rid of belly fat?

  • Yes, Cool Sculpting is a non-invasive procedure that uses cryolipolysis to freeze and destroy fat cells. It’s designed to target and reduce localised fat deposits, including belly fat. The destroyed fat cells are then naturally eliminated by the body over time. While Cool Sculpting can be effective for reducing belly fat, it is best suited for individuals who are close to their ideal weight and have small to moderate fat deposits.

When should I resort to plastic surgery to get rid of belly fat?

Resorting to plastic surgery should be a personal decision made after careful consideration. It’s typically recommended for individuals who:

  • Are close to their ideal weight but have localised fat deposits
  • Are in good overall health and have realistic expectations about the results
  • Understand the risks and benefits of the procedure

Further Reading about Body Procedures with Dr Jake Lim

Medical References about Plastic Surgery and Belly Fat

About Dr Jake Lim

Highly qualified and experienced specialist plastic surgeon Dr Jake Lim focuses on facial plastic, cosmetic breast and body contouring after significant weight loss

Dr Lim creates the best possible plastic surgery results for his Australia-wide and international patients.

Dr Lim is passionate about making sure each and every patient has access to the right information about available treatments and procedures and is able to make well-informed decisions.

At My Klinik, patient safety, education and achieving optimal results are our top priorities.