What are fat cells?

Fat cells—also known as adipocytes—are a type of connective tissues which store excess fats, fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K as well as other related substances. They can be subdivided into 2 types which are the brown and white fat cells. The former is composed of multiple fat droplets and iron-containing mitochondria. The presence of iron along with a large number of tiny blood capillaries give a brownish hue to this type of fat cells. Brown fat cells are metabolically-active and usually considered the “good fat” since they function to generate body heat by burning calories. They are densely found in the neck and upper back. On the other hand, white cells are made of only a single lipid droplet with far less iron-containing mitochondria and blood vessels, hence the whitish to yellowish appearance of the white fat cells. They are the major form of fat found in the body and are vital for providing the necessary energy reserve in the body. Besides that, white fat cells are also excellent thermal insulators and cushion the body from sudden impacts. In addition, white fat cells are also involved in many biological processes thanks to the presence of receptors (e.g. adrenalin, insulin, cortisol, etc.), and their physiological ability to release certain hormones like leptin and oestrogen. Despite their biological importance, an excess of white fat cells simply leads to fat accumulation in various body parts—hips, buttocks, thighs, abdomen—and an increased risk of numerous health disorders such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

How to get rid of fat cells efficiently?

Patients with an excessive accumulation of body fats have a few options to get rid of those fat cells efficiently. Some of them include:

Healthy Lifestyle: Patients who do practise unhealthy habits like being inactive and following a high fat diet must be taught to start adopting a healthier lifestyle. They should switch to nutrient-rich diet that provides adequate number of macronutrients (e.g. carbohydrates, proteins, and fats) and micronutrients (e.g. vitamins and minerals) according to their specific needs. Most importantly, they must engage in exercise sessions that will burn excess calories. Consistent physical activities also help to convert the white fat cells to brown fat cells, resulting in a faster metabolism and a slimmer body!

Aesthetic Procedures: Patients who are looking for a faster way to get rid of fat cells can instead undergo certain aesthetic procedures. These treatments can be categorised into surgical and nonsurgical procedures. One prime example of surgical fat reduction is liposuction, which rose to popularity in the 1980s. As the name probably would have suggested, this procedure involves removing excessive fat cells through a small and hollow cannula. While the surgeon moves the tube through the fat pads, fat cells are sucked out and removed from the body, resulting in a sculpted silhouette. Patients who are not keen on experiencing the long recover time associated with surgical fat reduction can instead opt for non-invasive approach which targets the fat cells via topical procedure. An example of nonsurgical treatment is CoolSculpting, which uses extreme cold to freeze and disintegrate fat cells. Besides using cold temperature, patients can also get rid of fat cells using heat therapy. Radio frequency (Vanquish) and laser (SculpSure) lipolysis deliver consistent heat to dismantle subcutaneous fat cells. Another cosmetic procedure that can get rid of fat cells is deoxycholic acid injection. Deoxycholic acid is a type of bile acid that is naturally produced by the body to help digest fat. It is now synthetically manufactured into an injectable solution (Belkyra) to disintegrate fat pads. However, compared to the other methods stated above, deoxycholic acid injections are indicated for eliminating fat pads under the chin, also known as submental fat. Other commonly used injectables include Aqualyx and Alidya.

Certified and experienced physicians should be able to advise their patients on the most suitable fat reduction procedure that they can undergo based on the severity of their condition, budget, and aesthetic outcomes wanted.