Let us paint the scenario: you have seriously upped the ante on the intensity of your weekly exercise regime that even your fairweather friends have paid notice to the hours you have been in the gym working on your fitness. But still, frustratingly, no amount of blood, sweat and tears can eliminate the last vestiges of flab. That is a common issue that most have — despite being so close to achieving their fitness goals, they are still unable to get rid of all that junk inside their trunk.
As with any most issues, you have to first understand the root of the problem before you can even begin to solve it. Slow it down for a couple of minutes and find out how fat is formed within you before facing your hardest enemy by getting rid of any excess fat, once and for all.
4 Causes of Stubborn Belly Fat, Flabby Arms and Thighs
Most of us were born with a healthy amount of fat that is necessary for keeping our bodily functions running. However, some may experience changes in body fat percentages over time from a combination of causes. The following are but a few of the numerous common causes that lead to the stubborn accumulation of fat in your belly, flabby arms, and thighs:
1. Poor Diet
Known as the leading cause for increasing body fat, a poor diet can adversely affect your body composition in at least a couple of ways. Firstly, it will cause your weight to rise when your body is forced to store excess energy in the form of fat. Secondly, your overall metabolism will slow down, which will reduce the rate at which your body burns any flab. These two reasons would account for the stubbornness of the final inch of flab that refuses to disappear despite all your best efforts.
2. Sedentary Lifestyle
Sedentary lifestyles can contribute to an increase in fat percentage since it makes it harder to achieve a calorie deficit that is necessary for weight loss. In a survey published in 2018, the World Health Organisation found that this has become an issue in Singapore, where 33% fail to engage in sufficient physical activity. It has also been uncovered that the intensity of your physical activity would do little in reversing the adverse effects of a sedentary lifestyle. It is the frequency that matters most. In other words, being a little physically active, while remaining stationary for most of the day, would only help you a little; your weekly HIIT sessions can only get you so far.
3. High Stress Levels
Stress levels play a major role in your ability to burn fat. Prolonged high levels of stress can raise cortisol levels in the bloodstream for an extended duration, which can affect your insulin sensitivity. This may ultimately increase your tendency to build and store fat. As a Singaporean, you are more likely to be affected by this. According to research conducted in 2017 by Willis Towers Watson, an estimate of about 60% of Singaporean employees experience above-average levels of stress. Chances are, you might be part of this statistic, too.
4. Hormonal Imbalance
Cortisol isn’t the only hormone that can dictate your body fat percentage. Hormonal imbalance, in general, can determine your body composition. Higher oestrogen levels, in particular, can lead to an increased tendency for you to store fat around your belly, thighs, and buttocks.
Decoding Your Flabby Arms: How Fat is Formed in Your Body
You might now be wondering how fat is formed. A quick three-step recap in biology can help you understand this:
Step 1: Consumption, Digestion & Absorption of Fat in Food
Fat has to come from somewhere. In the average individual, this begins with the consumption, digestion and absorption of food that contains fat. The process first occurs in your stomach and intestines, where bile released by the gallbladder breaks down large droplets of fat into smaller droplets known as micelles. This speeds up digestion, allowing enzymes called lipase to break down fat more rapidly, forming fatty acids and glycerol. Since these are small enough to pass through the intestinal walls, they can be absorbed into the bloodstream.
Step 2: Absorbed Food Particles Stimulate Insulin Production
Of course, fat is rarely the only food component present in any meal. All absorbed food particles — primarily glucose, fatty acids, and amino acids — will trigger the release of insulin, a hormone that is produced by the pancreas. Insulin will then prompt a series of cellular functions, one of which leads to the formation of body fat.
Step 3: Insulin Instructs Body to Rebuild Fat
The presence of insulin in the bloodstream will halt the breakdown of fatty acids, glycerol, glucose, and amino acids. In turn, your body will be instructed to use fatty acids and glycerol to rebuild fat, glucose (to build glycogen), and amino acids (to build protein). That is ultimately how fat is formed. Of course, the rate at which this occurs depends on the aforementioned causes of stubborn fat formation.
2 Types of Storage Fat: Where Do Your Flabby Arms Fall Under?
Not all body fats are the same. Some are tasked with decidedly more essential roles while others are relegated to that layer of flab around your arms, belly, and thighs. Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of it by first examining the three different types of fat cells:
- White Fat Cells: Most prominent fat cells in the body, mainly used for energy storage
- Brown Fat Cells: Used to keep you warm, its quantity decreases in your body as you age
- Beige/Brite Fat Cells: Found between white and brown fat, this may help burn other fat
Your body fat may be comprised of any combination of the above three types of fat cells. However, not all of them are used as a form of stored energy. When fat forms in your body, it may also be used to keep you alive. Known as essential fat, the fat that falls under this category is present in your bone marrow, brain, nerves as well as tissue membranes around your organs.
In most individuals, the vast majority of body fat is mainly found in the following:
1. Visceral Fat Tissue
Commonly found inside your arteries and around major organs in your abdomen, visceral fat tissue comprises of only white fat cells. Since this is stored deep within your abdominal cavity and arteries, only an MRI or CT scan is able to detect it. Unfortunately, this type of storage fat tends to be extremely dangerous. If the average individual has too much of it, they are more likely to suffer from debilitating health conditions, such as heart disease. However, a healthy diet, regular exercise and stress management can help keep its presence in check.
2. Subcutaneous Fat Tissue
Subcutaneous fat tissue forms the majority of the average person’s body fat percentage. This can be comprised of any combination of all three types of fat cells and are usually found just beneath the skin of your flabby arms, thighs, and belly. A simple way to classify your type of belly flab is to pinch the area — only subcutaneous fat can be pinched between your fingers. On the other hand, visceral fat tissue is found deep within the abdominal cavity or arteries and, therefore, cannot be pinched. Good lifestyle choices, such as regular exercise and a healthy diet, can easily help you manage the latter. For everything else, though, what else can you do?
Can Liposuction Help Get Rid of Flabby Arms?
To remove subcutaneous fat, some people opt for liposuction. Traditional liposuction is an invasive surgical procedure that removes fat directly from the targeted area. Since it involves creating an incision in the skin, some downtime is necessary following each procedure. Moreover, it comes with greater risks, including scarring and infection as well as lumpiness due to uneven fat removal. In extreme cases, incompetence has even resulted in the loss of life.
There are currently four types of traditional liposuction in the market:
1. Tumescent Liposuction
Tumescent liposuction involves the injection of local anaesthesia, mixed with a drug known as epinephrine, into the targeted area. As soon as it seeps into the fatty tissue, the latter expands and becomes tumid, making it easier to contour. The mixture also temporarily shrinks blood vessels in the area, reducing the loss of blood. Once the solution has taken effect, the surgeon will insert a small tube called a cannula through a small incision in the skin, and into the layer of subcutaneous fat. This fat will be sucked into the tube and stored elsewhere in a sterile manner.
2. Super-Wet Liposuction
Similar to tumescent liposuction, super-wet liposuction involves injecting a mixture of local anaesthesia and epinephrine into the layer of fatty tissue. However, the surgeon will inject less of the mixture into the targeted area. Instead, its amount is equal to the intended amount of fat that is to be removed. While this means that the procedure generally takes a shorter time, it requires the use of general anaesthesia or heavy sedation. This may not be the right treatment for you if your health condition does not permit the use of general anaesthesia.
3. Ultrasound-Assisted Liposuction
Rather than inject a liquid, ultrasound-assisted liposuction utilises ultrasound to liquefy fat cells before they are removed using a vacuum. The surgeon would opt for either a device that emits these ultrasonic waves from above the surface of the skin or use a cannula that can channel the energy directly into the fatty layer. This method is frequently used in conjunction with tumescent liposuction to aid in achieving more thorough and precise results.
4. Laser-Assisted Liposuction
Laser-assisted liposuction channels the power of a laser to turn fat cells into liquid, which will later be vacuumed out. At the same time, the laser stimulates collagen production in the skin, which will help encourage healing. Surgeons will also use an even smaller cannula for this procedure, allowing greater precision for smaller regions such as the jowls.
2 Non-Invasive Slimming Treatments in Singapore
If you prefer to avoid potential scarring and other adverse reactions, consider opting for a non-invasive slimming treatment. These procedures do not involve making any incisions to the skin, which reduces the possibility of scarring or infection. As a plus, no downtime is necessary after each treatment, allowing you to return to your usual schedules without a single hitch. You would only need to make the right changes to your lifestyle — including getting enough sleep and maintaining a healthy diet from here onwards.
These are the two most common non-invasive slimming treatments:
Cryolipolysis is a non-invasive slimming treatment that involves freezing fat cells. Since these cells are more sensitive to extreme cold, freezing the area triggers cell death only within the fat layer. Your body will then naturally eliminate these dead cells on its own. Clinically proven to remove 20% of subcutaneous fat cells per session, cryolipolysis allows you to see visible results in only six sessions. This is a completely safe means of fat removal, made even safer by a special gel pad that will be placed onto the treated area, protecting your skin from extreme cold while moisturising it. All you would have to do is hydrate yourself with two to three litres of water after each session of cryolipolysis to help your body flush out dead cells.
2. High-Intensity Frequency Ultrasound (HIFU)
High-Intensity Frequency Ultrasound (HIFU) has numerous uses in cosmetic enhancement. When used for fat reduction, this procedure utilises high-intensity ultrasound energy to eliminate subcutaneous fat cells without harming the surrounding tissue. Picture using a magnifying glass to focus rays of sunshine to burn a piece of paper. The main difference here is that HIFU uses sound waves, instead of light, to reach beneath the skin and target the subcutaneous layer. However, HIFU has one major disadvantage: the procedure can be painful despite being non-invasive. If you have a lower threshold of pain, this might not be the best option for you.
When figuring out the right fat removal treatment for you, ask yourself three questions. Are you prepared to risk the possibility of scarring or infection? Can you take time off from your tight schedule to recover after your procedure of choice? Most importantly, are you willing to suffer considerable pain? If you find yourself grimacing at the thought of answering ‘yes’ to any of these questions, consider opting for cryolipolysis instead. Safe, non-invasive, and painless, cryolipolysis can help significantly eliminate fat effectively.
At Geo Aesthetics, we can help you achieve your ultimate body goals using cryolipolysis. Contact us today for an appointment!