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What to do with Stubborn Belly Fat  

May 8, 2023
February 9, 2024

Why do we get belly fat? Why is belly fat so stubborn? And would liposuction or a fat-burning treatment solve this stubborn fat problem?

Table of Contents

Stubborn Belly Fat Mature Women

At 60, I am fairly happy with my body. I'm one size larger than I would like to be but reasonably fit and healthy. However, I always try to hide one part of my body: my tummy! I do different exercise classes, but I probably don't stretch enough, and I know I sit too much. Luckily, I've just found the perfect swimwear to help hide it for my Italian holiday – it has a flared top half!   

So, why do we get belly fat? Why is belly fat so stubborn? And would liposuction or a fat-burning treatment solve this stubborn fat problem? 

Common causes of belly fat 

The causes of excess belly fat are more common than one would assume. These  include:

1. Poor diet

What we consume affects our well being - mentally and physically. Poor dietary habits such as regular indulgence in sugary foods and drinks can also lead to a host of issues such as:

  • Weight gain
  • The slowing down of metabolism
  • Reduced capability in fat burning

Many of our favourite indulgence (when it comes to food) has trans fats in them. This is because we often skip reading the labels and ingredients. Trans fat can cause inflammation, which can lead to obesity. It is recommended to switch to better choices such as healthy whole-grain foods, monounsaturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats.

2. Too much alcohol

Excessive consumption of alcohol is the main cause of issues such as liver disease and inflammation. It was also indicated in a 2015 report that there is a possible link between alcohol consumption and obesity especially among men where weight gain and excess fat tend to accumulate around the belly region.

3. Lack of exercise

A sedentary lifestyle is never good. Fat needs to be burned but if the output is next to zero compared to the input, excess fat is not only the sole potential problem.

4. Genetics

Genetics play a huge part in who, what and how we are. Genes may influence factors such as metabolism and risks of developing conditions such as obesity. A person’s family medical history is also a good indicator of potential issues that may arise in themselves.

5. Poor sleep

Sleep is something that most people don’t think too much about. But it is during sleep that the body goes into repair mode, among others. Duration of sleep has been shown to also influence the amount of food intake with lesser sleep being linked to higher consumption. The quality of sleep is also important as it can affect a person’s mood and this can lead to erratic eating habits, which may lead to accumulating excess fat.

6. Smoking

It cannot be reiterated that smoking is bad for one’s health and well being. Although it may not be a direct cause of excess fat, a 2012 PloS journal study revealed that people who smoke tend to have more belly and visceral fat than those who don’t.

According to Dr Ivan Puah, Medical Director at Amaris B. Clinic, "higher stress levels, in general, can lead to excess fat around the abdominal organs – sometimes known as a 'stress belly'." He adds that this is often the hardest type of belly fat to get rid of.  

Research says that stress can also lead to decreased fat oxidation, which allows fat to be burnt as energy. This means you don't necessarily have to consume more food or burn less energy to put weight on.

4 different belly types

There's not just a stress belly; it could be a post-baby tummy that's taking much longer than you thought it would shift. Alcohol can also cause bloating and weight gain in that area.

4 different belly types

Stress belly

If you're stressed, you will have higher levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, which gets the body to store fat. If your body stores more in the abdomen, this area is usually the hardest to eliminate. Stress can cause a decrease in fat oxidation – how fat is burnt as energy. So you might find that you're not eating much, but the fat still isn't going away!

Mummy belly

It's normal not to go straight back to the body you had before, but it can be annoying, especially not being able to fit into your clothes! A 'mummy tummy' describes a tummy that is flabby with two areas of fat on either side of your belly button.

Alcohol belly

Too much booze, especially beer, can block the body from breaking food down properly or your liver's ability to burn fat. Some ingredients in alcohol and processed foods can affect the balance of good and bad bacteria and cause bloating and increased fat production.

Hormonal belly

Hormone levels can affect your fat-burning efficiency too. Higher oestrogen causes us to hold the fat in all areas, while low oestrogen levels shift the fat-holding area from the hips and thighs to the abdomen. Higher testosterone increases fat around the waist and thighs. In men, low testosterone slows the metabolism and increases belly fat.

What is stubborn fat and what makes it so stubborn?

What is stubborn fat and what makes it so stubborn?

When we talk about stubborn fat, it refers to those areas that are difficult to lose through diet and regular exercise. Apparently, stubborn fat is more resistant to fat burning because it acts as an energy storage. Our body holds on to this energy psychologically and physiologically for preservation.

Dr Puah talks us through the different types of belly fat.

#1 Visceral belly fat 

Visceral fat is fat stored inside the belly, wrapped around the organs and beneath the firm abdominal wall. It holds fatty acids, inflammatory proteins amongst other substances that are absorbed by the liver. If this liver fat is high, it can cause insulin resistance and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. 

#2 Subcutaneous belly fat 

While subcutaneous belly fat doesn’t seem to have the risk factor visceral fat does, overall high belly and body fat does; so it’s still important to keep overall belly fat low. Subcutaneous fat is the squishy stuff just below the skin and makes up about 90% of our overall body fat. We only start burning this type of fat after visceral fat is used for energy. It’s harder to lose and usually collects around the stomach, thighs, hips and bottom.

Three types of liposuction for getting rid of belly fat 

Tummy lipo

01. Laserlipolysis (Laser Liposuction) 

Laserlipolysis (Laser Liposuction) is a minimally invasive laser-assisted liposuction that breaks down the fat cells into liquified fat, which is then removed through suction. Apart from melting fat, laser energy also stimulates collagen production via tissue coagulation.

02. Vaser Liposuction 

Vaser liposuction uses ultrasonic high-frequency vibrations to loosen, break down and melt the fat cells, which are then removed using a liposuction cannula. This technique leaves the surrounding connective tissues relatively undisturbed. 

03. Modern Liposuction with MDC-Sculpt Lipo Technique 

Dr Puah describes liposuction as 70 percent art and 30 percent science. His experience with body-shaping has led him to successfully develop the MDC-Sculpt Lipo Technique. MDC stands for Multi-Dimensional Contouring, and his proprietary approach has a three-pronged objective: fat removal, targeted body sculpting and skin tightening, with sculptured and natural-looking results. Plus, it’s gentler and has a faster recovery time with less bruising, discomfort and scarring.  

Liposuction also has other health and medical benefits, such as:

  • Reduction in triglycerides (a type of fat found in your blood) by 25% 
  • Reduction in the total count of leucocytes (white blood cells) 
  • Liposuction leads to fat loss without causing any change in lean mass 
  • A systemic 2017 review showed that liposuction improved metabolic balance and cardiovascular risk factors 
  • Reduces vascular inflammation in obese patients, reducing their cardiovascular risk

So, if you’re unhappy with the shape of your tummy or any part of your body, schedule a consultation. It can affect our confidence and our mood! It’s pretty frustrating, especially when you think you’re doing what you can to reduce it, and nothing is happening.


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