Stress Belly


Woman with stress belly

What is a Stress Belly?

Stress belly refers to an accumulation of fat around the abdominal area that is often associated with chronic stress. Contrary to the many diagrams on the internet, stress belly has no specific look or shape. It is simply an accumulation of fat in the abdomen caused by stress. Exactly where and how the fat deposits accumulate depends on your unique body and does not follow a certain pattern simply because the fat is caused by stress.

Stress belly is a way of describing the cause of fat accumulation, but it is not a medical diagnosis.

Why is a Stress Belly Dangerous?

Stress belly can create two different types of fat: subcutaneous and visceral. Subcutaneous fat is the fat found directly beneath your skin. It is softer than visceral fat and is generally harmless, or benign. It can even help protect you from injury if you fall or suffer a trauma. We can remove this type of fat with liposuction to make you look shapelier and more toned.

Visceral fat is far more dangerous. This type of fat is located deep within the abdominal cavity and surrounds vital organs. An excess of visceral fat increases your risk of several serious health issues, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, liver disease, respiratory problems, and cancer.

Stress Belly Vs. Cortisol Belly

The terms cortisol belly and stress belly refer to the same underlying issue: the accumulation of abdominal fat due to chronic stress and elevated cortisol levels. The term stress belly, however, encompasses a broader, more holistic view.

Stress increases cortisol levels in the body, and the term cortisol belly refers specifically to the phenomenon of high cortisol levels increasing belly fat. The term stress belly, however, acknowledges the fact that stress influences not only cortisol levels but also other hormones and behaviors, such as sleep patterns, eating habits, and physical activity levels, all contributing to weight gain and abdominal fat.

Visceral Vs. Subcutaneous Fat

Visceral and subcutaneous fat are quite different from each other and impact the body in different ways. Here is an overview of the two.

Visceral Fat

  • Poses a greater risk for serious health conditions due to its location around vital organs and its role in inflammation and insulin resistance
  • Cannot be seen or felt from the outside of the body
  • Best managed through a combination of diet and exercise

Subcutaneous Fat

  • Less harmful than subcutaneous fat, although an excess can still contribute to overall obesity and some health issues
  • Can be seen and felt from outside the body
  • Managed through diet and exercise with a focus on overall caloric balance and consistent physical activity

What Liposuction CAN Do to Help Reduce Stress Belly

A powerful body sculpting tool, liposuction can effectively reduce subcutaneous fat and improve the appearance of the abdominal area. When addressing stress belly, liposuction can remove fat in both the upper and lower abdomen as well as the flanks (love handles). Liposuction can provide:

  • Targeted fat removal
  • Improved body contours
  • Greater self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Assistance with stubborn fat that is unmoved by diet and exercise

What Liposuction CAN'T Do for Stress Belly

Although a powerful tool, liposuction does have its limitations. It's important to understand them before opting to undergo the procedure so that you don't expect unrealistic or impossible results. Liposuction can't:

  • Remove visceral fat
  • Reduce your weight
  • Address the underlying causes of stress belly
  • Prevent future weight fluctuations

Liposuction can help reshape your body once you have dealt with the factors that lead to stress belly, but it isn't a cure-all for stress-induced weight gain or a substitute for a healthy lifestyle.

Liposuction Options to Get Rid of Stress Belly

You have options if you decide you want liposuction to address your stress belly. There are several types of liposuction you can choose from.

Awake Liposuction

Awake liposuction uses local anesthetic to keep patients comfortable but awake during their liposuction procedure. Choosing to remain awake eliminates any risks associated with general anesthesia. It can also result in a slightly faster recovery time. Your activities will still be limited as you wait for your incisions to heal, but you may not be as tired or fuzzy since there is no need for general anesthesia to clear your system.

Traditional Liposuction

Although awake liposuction is a good option for some, other patients want to be sound asleep for their surgery. Traditional liposuction under general anesthesia is the best option for these people. Both traditional and awake liposuction use the same surgical procedures and as such provide the same results.

Lipo 360

Lipo 360 offers a comprehensive approach to liposuction. We can perform liposuction on almost any part of the body and often work on multiple body areas during a single surgery. Lipo 360, however, focuses on making your entire midsection look great from any angle. During this procedure we will remove fat as needed from your abdomen, flanks, and lower back, creating a more sculpted look all the way around your body.

Lifestyle Changes to Make

Liposuction can help you to reshape your body, but combatting stress belly and making sure it doesn't return involves making some important lifestyle changes as well. Treating stress belly requires a holistic approach to managing your stress and taking better care of yourself. It requires a multifaceted approach that addresses both the physical and psychological aspects of stress and fat accumulation.

As always, reducing fat requires a balanced diet. Focus on a diet rich in whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats. These foods provide essential nutrients and help regulate metabolism. Foods high in fiber, such as beans, lentils, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, can help improve digestion and keep you feeling full longer so avoiding snacks is easier.

Reducing your intake of sugary snacks, desserts, and beverages can help manage insulin levels and prevent fat accumulation. Avoid processed foods too. They often contain unhealthy fats, added sugars, and artificial ingredients that can contribute to weight gain.

Eat regular, balanced meals to maintain stable blood sugar levels and prevent overeating. Pay attention to your hunger and fullness cues and avoid emotional eating by finding healthier ways to cope with stress.

A great way to deal with stress and benefit your body is exercise. Engaging in regular cardiovascular exercises like running, cycling, swimming, or brisk walking are great for burning fat. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts, which involve short bursts of intense exercise followed by rest periods, can be particularly effective for burning fat.

Incorporate strength training exercises at least two days a week to build muscle mass and boost metabolism. This will help your body burn more fat even when you're not exercising. Include core-strengthening exercises such as planks, crunches, and leg raises to tone the abdominal area.

When fighting stress belly, it's also a good idea to pick up a few mindfulness techniques. Practicing meditation can help reduce stress and lower cortisol levels. Spend a few minutes each day focusing on your breath and staying present in the moment. Deep breathing techniques can also help calm the nervous system and reduce stress. Try diaphragmatic breathing or the 4-7-8 breathing technique.

Incorporating yoga into your routine can help reduce stress and improve overall well-being. Poses like Child's Pose, Legs Up the Wall, and Corpse Pose are particularly relaxing. Progressive muscle relaxation and guided imagery can also be effective in managing stress.

Taking better care of yourself overall will help you fight stress belly and keep your liposuction results (see real lipo before and after results) looking better longer. Liposuction removes fat cells to reshape your body, but it can't stop your body from making new fat cells if your weight fluctuates a lot after your surgery. Taking good care of yourself mentally and physically can help prevent stress belly in the future and will make your liposuction results last longer.

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