A Review of the Aesthetic Treatment of Abdominal Subcutaneous Adipose Tissue: Background, Implications, and Therapeutic Options

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The demand for aesthetic body sculpting procedures has expanded precipitously in recent years. Subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) deposits of the central abdomen are especially common areas of concern for both males and females.


To review the available literature regarding the underlying pathophysiology of subcutaneous fat accumulation in the abdominal area and available treatment options.


A MEDLINE and Google Scholar search was performed accordingly.


The preferential accumulation of SAT in the central abdomen is attributable to the reduced lipolytic sensitivity of its adipocytes. A number of therapeutic options are available for the treatment of central abdominal adiposity. Cryolipolysis, high-intensity focused ultrasound, nonthermal ultrasound, radiofrequency, and injection adipolysis lead to adipocyte destruction through multiple different mechanisms. Nonablative modalities such as injection lipolysis mobilize fat stores from viable adipocytes, although its effects may be curtailed in obese patients. Liposuction through tumescent technique, however, mechanically extricates SAT.


Although tumescent liposuction remains the gold standard for SAT removal, less invasive ablative and nonablative options for targeting localized deposits of adipose tissue now permeate the aesthetic marketplace. Limited results associated with these modalities mandate multiple sessions or combination treatment paradigms.

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