Localized fat (regional adiposity) is caused by the abnormal, excessive accumulation of fat on various parts of the body, which is very difficult to lose, despite a person’s attempts characterized by a well-balanced diet and physical exercise. The distribution of fat is determined by gender, age, exercise, and genetic predisposition.
In women, the largest part of fat is deposited around the hips, the thighs and buttocks, while men tend to accumulate “excess” fat around the abdomen.
The differences in body fat distribution between the two sexes are hormone-related. For instance, in women fat is accumulated in such a way in order to protect the fetus during pregnancy.
On the other hand, for men, the accumulation of fat around the stomach and belly is considered central obesity, and may have an adverse effect on their health and be associated with heart problems.
Classification of localized fat
There are 4 basic categories of localized fat – body types, depending on the areas where the increased accumulation of adipose tissue appears:
- The “apple” type, where fat tends to accumulate around the abdomen and stomach. The trunk is usually round and wider, while the feet are slim and the buttocks flat. It is associated with a high risk for dyslipidemia, hypertension, type II diabetes mellitus, heart diseases and strokes.
- The “pear” type, where fat tends to be deposited on the hips, buttocks and thighs. The trunk is usually thin. It is the most common female body type, especially for the Mediterranean women. The loss of fat from those areas is quite difficult, and requires a combination of special diet, exercise, and local lipolysis methods in more stubborn cases.
- The “hourglass” type, where the undesired fat tends to be accumulated on the breasts and buttocks. As a result, the shoulders and hips are especially prominent, and the waist very small.
- The “rectangular” type, where the body looks as a one-piece, without curves and has no waistline. The thin legs and butt are also characteristics of that body type.
Diagnosis of localized fat
An ultrasound measurement of the subcutaneous adipose tissue thickness will help the diagnosis of the abnormal accumulation of fat. It is a special test that measures the adipose tissue in millimeters, using high frequency sounds and their echoes, as they travel on the body and pass through the tissues, “translating” them into image. It is used in cases where a part of the body is about to undergo a lipolysis treatment, in order to measure the treatment’s results.
Treatment of localized fat
Localized fat may be treated, always depending on the size of the problem, with conservative and more invasive methods, that aim at dissolving the adipose tissue on the parts of the body where it has been accumulated. These methods are:
Lipolysis mesotherapy. Lipolysis mesotherapy or injection lipolysis is an injectable treatment, where special substances are injected in the subcutaneous tissue to dissolve the fat (caffeine, L-carnitine, phosphatidylcholine, etc.). It is successfully applied in areas such as the buttocks and “love handles”, on the abdomen and sides, inner thighs and above the knee.
Cavitation. Cavitation is a non-invasive method of fat cell (adipocytes) destruction, which dissolves the plasma membrane by emitting ultrasound signals. At the same time, cavitation also performs lymphatic massage for the easier drainage of destroyed fat cells, improving the texture of those areas that present cellulite. Cavitation may be applied on the entire body, on areas with localized fat and cellulite.
Cavilipo. Cavilipo is the combination of injected lipolysis (mesotherapy) and cavitation. The aim is to dissolve fat, lose inches, and improve the area’s contour. The treatments may be performed in combination or they can be performed on their own.
Cryolipolysis. Cryolipolysis is a method that causes apoptosis (death) of the fat cells by creating non favorable living conditions and in particular by freezing the “affected” areas. The fat cells that “die” are then eliminated from the body through the lymphatic system.
Laser liposuction. It is the evolution of the traditional liposuction method that liquefies the fat with a laser tip before this is suctioned out of the body. The affected area is sculpted and tissues are tightened.
Abdominoplasty. Abdominoplasty is the surgical method for treating localized fat and abdominal laxity. It is widely used by women after their pregnancy, and is a very common cosmetic procedure for men with abdominal obesity.
Brachioplasty (arm lifting). Brachioplasty is the surgical method for the removal of excess fat from the arms. It is recommended when there is severe accumulation of fat on these areas, combined with intense laxity that cannot be solved with a balanced diet and exercise.