Stubborn Fat

Stubborn fat is fatty adipose tissue that cannot be removed, either because it is too difficult to do so or because the tissue is extremely resistant to diet and exercise. This may be the case even if we stick to stringent exercise routines, eat right, and do everything we're supposed to do. It often takes the form of loose, fatty pouches or pockets found in various parts of the body. Some areas hold on to fat longer than others. There are a variety of different types of fat found within the body, but the most stubborn type is known as subcutaneous fat found just beneath the skin. 

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What is Stubborn Fat

Stubborn fat is a form of fatty adipose tissue that sticks around, even after we put in the effort to diet and exercise. It can be highly resilient, often taking the shape of fatty pouches in various parts of the body, such as the abdomen, thighs, or hips. It can occur with people who are overweight, underweight, or close to their ideal weight, and the cause may vary from person to person. It could be hormone levels, eating habits, sleep schedules, and stress. Regardless, it is extremely frustrating. It can hurt our self-esteem, result in feelings of worthlessness, and send us into depression.

Ridding oneself of stubborn fat can be a serious problem, which may entail a difficult physical and emotional journey. Exercise and dieting can sometimes be effective, though there are areas of the body such as the submental area beneath the chin that don't respond well to physical activity at all. Other areas, such as the love handles, require strenuous, painful exercises that most have trouble completing. It is possible to remove small, isolated pockets of fat with various types of cosmetic procedures including liposuction, CoolSculpting, SmartLipo, and laser therapy techniques. But they have varying degrees of efficacy, and they're usually reserved for patients close to their ideal weight, not those facing obesity.

Common Types of Stubborn Fat

There are certain areas of the body that retain fat longer than others. This is biology, not willpower, strength, or weakness, and that is an important distinction to make. These areas simply have less of the ingredients and biological processes necessary to release fat. This can be for a variety of reasons.

  • Abdominal fat

    We hear a lot about weight loss in the abdominal region. It's often used to determine an individual's weight or fitness level, but it might not be an accurate indicator. Abdominal fat is simply more difficult to lose. This is because the fat in the abdominal area contains more of what are called alpha receptors, which tend to slow down the weight loss process. They do this by making it more difficult for the hormone responsible for fat removal, hormone sensitive lipase (HSL), to do its job. Many scientists believe that our bodies retain fat in the abdomen, because that fat acts as a type of organ or gland.

  • Love handles

    Love handles are usually a simple result of fat retention caused by poor diet, alcohol, sugary drinks, and a lack of exercise. For men they are a serious problem because they are the first place that fat migrates to when they are gaining weight. That means that they are the last place to lose fat during periods of weight loss. The exercises necessary to tone love handles can be particularly strenuous, and they require a level of advanced core strength. They also tend to cause soreness and even cramps. This is one of the most common places where stubborn fat it stored.

  • Double chin

    Double chins are pockets of loose skin and fatty tissue beneath the chin in the submental area. They are frustrating for many because they can make a person appear overweight even when they are not. While they can come on as a result of weight gain, they're usually caused by other factors such as genetics, posture, skin elasticity, and aging. There are many exercises that purport to remedy double chins, but they're not necessarily effective. Many people find that they either have to live with the problem or seek out some type of procedure to remove it. Liposuction, laser treatments, neck lifts, and injectables are all common options available to choose from. 

What Causes Stubborn Fat

There are many reasons why stubborn fat can spring up. Often times it's human biology working against us. Sometimes there are factors that we can control to get rid of the problem. We should take a dual-sided approach, analyze our habits, and try to learn to accept the things we can't control.

  • Poor diet

    It comes as no surprise that bad dieting habits can result in stubborn fat. Everyone knows that. But not everyone is aware of what healthy eating looks like. Also, many people with an overeating problem have a warped view of portion sizes. They have to learn how much food is too much. 

  • Sedentary lifestyle

    When we eat, we gain energy. If that energy is not used up, fat gets stored in various places throughout our bodies. It usually goes straight to our stubborn fat pockets. Engaging in physical activity will help us prevent more fat buildup, allowing us to fight stubborn fat before it forms.

  • Genetics

    It is possible to inherit genes that predispose us to stubborn fat build-up in certain parts of our body. But that doesn't mean we can't do what it takes to get a handle on the problem. Genes have varying degrees of influence. In these cases, diet and exercise may still be effective.

  • Hormonal imbalances

    Certain hormones such as estrogen and leptin can make it more difficult to fight stubborn pockets of fatty tissue. They slow the weight loss process. In these cases, it is a good idea to work harder. Weight loss is still possible. But it might also be a good idea to explore different types of cosmetic procedures.

Procedures That Remedy Stubborn Fat

It is important to note that fat removal procedures are not considered a suitable alternative to weight loss. They are almost always reserved for patients who are close to their ideal body weight. But they can be effective at removing small amounts of stubborn fat, especially in the most resistant areas of the body.

  • Liposuction

    Liposuction is the most common form of fat removal. Typically the procedure is performed by breaking down fat cells, often through the use of a tumescent liquid. This allows surgeons to remove them more easily through the use of a suction device. Liposuction does require general anesthesia, and it can sometimes result in complications.

    Find doctors who offer Liposuction
  • CoolSculpting

    CoolSculpting is a new form of fat removal, and for many, it can be an exciting option. It is completely non-invasive. It doesn't require incisions, needles, or scalpels. Instead, it works by freezing fatty tissue with a handpiece. This breaks the tissue down and causes the body to expel it through natural processes. 

    Find doctors who offer CoolSculpting
  • SculpSure

    Sculpsure is completely non-invasive. It uses a laser system, which is applied to the body externally. The laser heats fat cells without damaging the tissue around them. The cells are then expelled through the body's natural processes. It is great for areas like the double chin, the abdomen, and the love handles.

    Find doctors who offer SculpSure

Frequently Asked Questions

Liposuction requires a surprisingly short recovery period. Most patients find that they can return to work within a few days after undergoing the operation. Some like to call out for a week to be sure. This will vary from person to person of course. It may take somewhere around 2 weeks to feel completely recovered. Most providers tell patients to avoid strenuous activity such as hard labor, running, and exercise immediately after the procedure is performed. This could result in various types of side effects and complications. That will last for about 6 weeks. By that time, patients should feel like themselves again. 

CoolSculpting has received some attention in the press because the company that created it downplayed the occurrence rate of a complication known as paradoxical adipose hyperplasia (PAH). It can still be hard to find an accurate estimate of how often it occurs. Roughly 6 to 9 months after the procedure is performed some patients develop a raised bump of tissue, often taking the shape of the handpiece used during CoolSculpting. As of yet, there is no sign that PAH comes in conjunction with other health risks. But sometimes it can be rather large, and it doesn't go away on its own. It has to be removed with methods like liposuction or other surgical operations.

Adult bodies have a specific fat cell count that does not increase or decrease naturally over the years. This usually begins around 25 years of age. Certain types of fat removal procedures decrease our fat cell count, making it impossible for the removed cells to come back and start growing as a result of weight gain. So it becomes harder for the body to retain fat. In that way, fat removal procedures are permanent. But stubborn fat can still come back, especially if we double down on bad eating habits and resume a sedentary lifestyle. It's just harder for it to appear once we have undergone cosmetic treatment. If we lose stubborn fat through traditional methods, it can return just as quickly completely unhindered.

Sculpsure does not make use of incisions, needles, knives, or suction of any kind, which means the fat cells are not removed manually. Instead, the cells are killed and removed through natural metabolism. This can take time. It's a gradual process that is often seen taking place over a period of weeks or months. Usually, results take about 6 weeks to start showing up, and they aren't finalized for another 12 weeks. This will depend upon various biological factors. Those who don't see results after 16 weeks may want to speak with their specialist. The treatment has varying rates of efficacy.

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