Abdominal Fat Cells: 2 Reasons Why Bigger is NOT Better

Ever since our office discovered the laser lipo unit, it seems like the research supporting this approach to curb inflammation has been everywhere.

Or maybe, just like the new car you just bought you thought no one else had that you now see everywhere, I’m just looking for research along this avenue more.

Either way, it’s interesting, to say the least.  It is becoming more and more clear that inflammation coming from that extra fat you are carrying around your middle is setting your body and health on fire.  And not in a good way.  This inflammation is driven by hormones released by the fat cells when they become angry from the wrong lifestyle choices.

This particular study requires a wee bit of background.  First, there are a few major depots of fat in the human body.  Visceral fat is the fat around your organs, sometimes referred to as omental fat (the omentum is the fascial tissue acting like a web connecting all of your internal organs, loaded with fat and blood vessels).  There is no doubt that visceral adipose tissue is not a good thing.

Subcutaneous fat is the fat found just under your skin that serves to keep you warm and cushion you when you fall back onto your buttocks.  In general, this type of fat has been thought to be less related to chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes as visceral fat.

Or, at least, that’s what I thought before I delved into some basic background research for this post.  About 3 hours later (who needs sleep??)  I’ve come to the conclusion that we still have no idea whatsoever about the human body.  Why?

Because there is a growing body of research that suggests that our subcutaneous fat may actually help us keep our visceral fat in check.  In particular, subcutaneous fat produces more of a compound called caveolin-1 (CAV-1).  CAV-1 has been shown to protect against diabetes.

As I read through this, a blog article I did several years ago made much more sense.  In the article, I reviewed the findings that, after liposuction that removed subcutaneous fat, there was a bounce-back 10% increase in visceral adipose tissue.

With this in mind, I need to get back to the article.  In it, researchers looked at fat removed during surgery from 44 women (average age 47 years old).  They were looking at two characteristics of the fat from both the omental (visceral) and subcutaneous fat:

  1. Larger fat cells than expected (termed adipocyte hypertrophy).
  2. Smaller fat cells, but more of them (termed adipocyte hyperplasia).

Here’s what they found.  When compared to smaller fat cells (hyperplasia):

  • Women with larger omental fat cells had a worse ability to manage blood sugar (as measured by GLUT4 mRNA expression) as well as more inflammation (as measured by CEBPB mRNA, OM PLIN, CD68, CD14, CD31 and vWF) and were more likely to release fats into the bloodstream (a process called lipolysis).
  • Women with larger subcutaneous fat cells also had a worse ability to manage blood sugar, higher inflammation, lower adiponectin levels (not good–leads to diabetes) and more lipolysis.

While this sounds complicated, the bottom line is that larger fat cells, regardless of location in the body, was far more dangerous than having more, but smaller, fat cells.

This is consistent with what we know about fat cells being the storage for extra calories.  Too many calories, super-sized fat cells and not enough blood flow to support the cells and you get a revolt and uprising.

Cold laser has been known for years to fight this situation by increasing blood flow and decreasing inflammation.  It fits in very well with our experiences with laser lipo for patients who have abdominal fat that has reached this state of inflammation.


James Bogash

For more than a decade, Dr. Bogash has stayed current with the medical literature as it relates to physiology, disease prevention and disease management. He uses his knowledge to educate patients, the community and cyberspace on the best way to avoid and / or manage chronic diseases using lifestyle and targeted supplementation.