What Causes Stubborn Fat and What You Can Do About It?

There is no denying that when it comes to our appearance we are our own worst critic. Over analyzing, judging, and critiquing our bodies over minute details can have us pulling our hair out. The most egregious of offenders being stubborn fat that never seems to go away, despite all efforts dieting and exercising.

While losing weight has always been a pillar of achieving an ideal body shape, our bodies can never seem to lose the fat where we want it gone most, such as from our stomach and thigh areas. Living with a muffin-top or love handles can make us apprehensive when choosing the clothes we wear, opting to cover up our bodies in loose-fitting outfits in hopes that our stubborn fat will be adequately concealed.

Not being comfortable in your own skin can lead to poor self-esteem, a decreased sense of attractiveness, and decreased sociability to the point where it becomes a hindrance to living our lives the way we truly want to. 


Fighting the Fat

There are several reasons why most of us have stubborn fat, with insufficient diet and exercise often taking the blame. However, this is not necessarily true. It takes understanding what fat is how it is used by the body to fully appreciate why we need it and how we can combat it. 

Fat is often labeled as the enemy, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. We need fat to insulate our bodies, store energy, and even protect our vital organs. Women especially are genetically predisposed to holding on to more fat as female bodies need extra fat stores to promote fertility and gestation during their childbearing years4.

However, too much fat (obesity) can harmful to our health, potentially leading to the development of diabetes, heart attacks, or even stroke. Maintaining a normal BMI (body mass index) can help mitigate the negative effects caused by excessive weight gain. Yet despite being of healthy weight, many of us are still left with that little bit of pudge that makes us feel self-conscious and embarrassed about the way we look.


Fat and Nature

It makes logical sense that if you want to lose fat in a certain area you focus on that area extensively until the fat melts away. Unfortunately, our bodies do not work that way. If you have a tendency to store fat on your stomach or upper arms, your body will continue to store fat in those places, no matter how much diet and exercise you endure. This can be linked to our genetics and hormones; the enforcers of how our bodies run and operate. 

There are two primary hormones responsible for fat distribution in the human body; testosterone and estrogen3. Both men and women have these hormones circulating throughout the bodies, with men having predominantly testosterone and women having predominantly estrogen. While both hormones ultimately promote leanness, testosterone and estrogen have also been linked to where fat is most likely to be deposited; more commonly in the abdomen for men and more likely in the thighs and butt in women. On average, women carry up to 6 to 11 percent more body fat compared to men1 and can be linked to the actions of estrogen.

Other hormones that play a role in the storage of fat include insulin and cortisol. Insulin aids in the transportation of glucose from the food we eat into cells for energy. In times when we consume too much, a surplus of energy is created eventually becoming stored as fat. Cortisol is a hormone predominantly produced during times of stress, triggering glucose to be released from cells and consequently a rise in insulin levels. Cortisol also promotes fat storage, with sustained elevations linked to increased abdominal fat and obesity2

Aging also plays a significant factor as testosterone and estrogen start to wane in our mature years. Older menopausal women, in particular, tend to gain weight more easily while experiencing a shift to storing fat to their abdomens. Older men tend to develop a potbelly that protrudes out in front of them.  


Metabolism of Fat 

We have all known at least one person in our lives that can eat to their heart’s content but never seem to gain weight, this is because they naturally have a high BMR (basal metabolic rate); the energy required by the body to function at rest. Metabolism is essentially the rate at which we create and break down energy to remain alive, and fat is the body’s main source of stored energy. Your metabolic rate is partly dictated by your genetics and for the most part, out of your control, apart from regulating diet and exercise. 

This can leave many of us scratching our heads to why we can’t seem to lose those last couple of pounds, despite adhering to a strict diet and exercise regimen. Our bodies are designed to hold on to energy for survival, so when we consume fewer calories our bodies go into starvation mode, reducing the amount of energy we burn in an attempt to keep us alive. This can be referred to as reaching a metabolic plateau, whereby your body thinks that you don’t need to lose fat, despite your efforts to the contrary. 


Fight for Your Happiness

The feeling of not having control of your own body can be disheartening like you are being treated unfairly. You can choose to accept that you may never achieve the body you’ve always desired, admitting defeat, or you can take a stand and defy all the negative factors holding you back from achieving your true potential.  

With the advancements medical science has made till now, the impossible has now become possible. You can get rid of fat in places most annoying, reshape your curves as you please, and most importantly achieve the body you’ve always dreamed of. 

There is no better display of confidence than showing off the shape of your body in public, and obtaining that level of confidence often means needing a body that is aesthetically pleasing. A bulging belly or ample love handles can throw off this aesthetic, often destroying your confidence in the process. Now is the time to take control of your body! And with the help of Dr. Robert Singer, a world-renowned plastic surgeon, you can finally look as good as you feel!


Directly Removing Fat from Your Body

Liposuction is a cosmetic surgical procedure that can safely and permanently remove stubborn fat. It can be performed on virtually any part of the body, from your face to even your ankles. Liposuction can be done alone or in combination with other cosmetic procedures such as a facelift or tummy tuck to improve the contour and appearance of the treated area. 

There are several types of liposuction techniques now available with all using a surgically placed tube (cannula) connected to a controlled vacuum to carefully suction fat out of your body. Dr. Singer will discuss with you in length about your liposuction options and which technique is best suited to your needs. 

It is best to think of liposuction for the purposes of body shaping, rather than weight loss. Good candidates for the procedure are those who are able to maintain a stable weight but still have unwanted fat deposits that seem unresponsive to diet and exercise. While over-weight individuals may still undergo liposuction, it is recommended that they achieve weight loss through more traditional methods before pursuing the procedure, as obtaining a stable body weight with continued diet and exercise will ensure liposuction results remain. 

Keep in mind that liposuction permanently removes fat cells from the treated area, effectively slimming and contouring problem fat deposits. However, if you were to put on significant weight thereafter, additional fat cells are not produced by the body but rather the remaining fat cells increase in size and volume. This may lead a disproportionate body image as weight gain may be distributed unevenly. 

After a liposuction procedure, you can expect some mild swelling and bruising of the surgical sites that will dissipate in the coming weeks. During the recovery period, it is recommended to avoid any strenuous activities for two to three weeks. It will take about six months for your body to heal completely and results to become fully apparent. Follow-up appointments will be scheduled to ensure that you are healing properly and that desired results are achieved. 

Is surgery Not Appealing?

Undergoing cosmetic surgery is a real commitment and some of us just aren’t ready to take the plunge. Fortunately, there are non-surgical options available that can permanently eliminate stubborn fat safely, comfortably, and relatively quick. 

Vanquish fat removal is an advanced technique that can effectively reduce body fat without ever touching your body. Vanquish uses radiofrequency technology to deliver a precise level of energy to your problem areas, heating and destroying fat cells. These dead fat cells are then cleared naturally by the body leaving a leaner, smoother physique. 

Much like liposuction, Vanquish should not be treated as a weight loss solution, but rather for individuals who lead a healthy lifestyle, at their ideal weight, but who want to get rid of stubborn fat. Vanquish can be used on the abdomen, flanks, back, thighs, arms, and legs. 

Vanquish fat removal will be done in office and take approximately 30-60 minutes per session.  Most patients will see a difference in about two to four weeks after the first treatment, with multiple sessions recommended depending on your body type. 

By far the most appealing draw to Vanquish is that it does not require anesthesia, incisions, or surgery of any kind. At most, patients will feel a slight warming sensation on their bodies during treatment secessions and virtually no pain at all. You may, however, experience temporary redness and soreness of the treated area. Best of all, there is zero downtime, which means you can go about your day as normal as soon as the treatment has completed. 


Choosing the Right Medical Professional

Choosing the right plastic surgeon is undoubtedly the most important choice you need to make when deciding to undergo any kind of cosmetic procedure. You are given only one body in this life and permanently changing is a decision not to be taken lightly. Dr. Robert Singer and his talented staff are knowledgeable and well equipped to aid you with any form of cosmetic procedure you decided to pursue. Dr. Singer’s experience, professionalism, and artistic talent will not only transform the way you look but also give you the confidence to be the best version of yourself. 

Schedule a consultation today in the La Jolla area of San Diego at (858) 455-0290.



  1. https://newsroom.unsw.edu.au/news/health/hormone-link-fat-storage
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0925443913001919
  3. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/obesity-and-hormones
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19021869

Ready to Get Started?

Fill out the contact form below to schedule your consultation with Dr. Singer