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What is Fatty Liver Disease?

The liver is the largest internal organ in humans. It regulates most chemical levels in the blood and helps to process nutrients from foods and drinks. The liver also excretes a product called bile which helps with digestion.

The liver can build up fat deposits, which is normal in small quantities. However, too much fat in the liver may lead to inflammation resulting in damage and scarring. Liver failure may happen when scarring is severe. Early treatments can help prevent serious complications, so consult your liver cancer surgeon in Singapore for prompt and personalised advice.

What is Fatty Liver Disease?

Fatty liver disease refers to the build-up of fats in the liver which can cause varying degrees of damage to the organ.

People who drink too much alcohol are more likely to develop the disease; and if so, it is called alcoholic fatty liver disease (AFLD). However, fatty liver disease can also occur in people who drink little to no alcohol, and this will be known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

Symptoms of Fatty Liver Disease

Often, people with fatty liver show no noticeable symptoms, but some may experience tiredness or pain in the upper right side of the abdomen where the liver is.

Advanced cases of fatty liver disease can also develop complications such as liver scarring, also known as liver fibrosis. When liver fibrosis becomes severe, it becomes liver cirrhosis, which can cause symptoms including appetite loss, unexplained weight loss, fatigue, abdominal pain, jaundice, and more.

To prevent complications, make sure to visit the best liver clinic and seek medical attention from an accredited physician for better outcomes.

Causes and Risk Factors

When your body produces too much fat or is not efficiently metabolizing fats, fatty liver occurs. In cases of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), the cause can be vague. Factors that may play a role include:

  • obesity
  • insulin resistance
  • high cholesterol, especially triglycerides
  • high blood sugar
  • older age
  • malnourishment
  • polycystic ovary syndrome
  • underactive thyroid
  • underactive pituitary gland
  • metabolic syndrome

Types of Fatty Liver Disease

  1. Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (AFLD)

    The first stage of alcohol-related liver disease can be cured when you stop drinking alcohol. Its most severe form is alcoholic cirrhosis, the damage cannot be undone even with the best liver surgery. Some complications that may arise with AFLD include:

    • permanent scarring of the liver
    • loss of function
    • bleeding in oesophageal varices
    • high blood pressure in the liver blood vessels
    • loss of brain function due to toxins build-up in the blood
  2. Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)

    Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease has two different types:

    • Simple fatty liver – This means that your liver has fat with little to no inflammation or damage to the liver cells.
    • Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) – This means that your liver has excess fat along with inflammation and different amounts of scarring. NASH can cause complications such as cirrhosis and liver cancer. At this point, one must get treated by an experienced liver cancer surgeon.

Treatment

Commonly, lifestyle changes help reverse mild cases of fatty liver disease, such as:

  • avoiding alcohol consumption
  • losing weight
  • eating a nutrient-rich diet
  • having at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week

Further treatments may be necessary for more advanced cases. Your liver surgeon may ask you to:

  • make lifestyle changes
  • take prescription medicines
  • have surgery or a liver cancer surgery in Singapore
  • have a liver transplant (if a liver failure occurs)

For the best treatment plan, seek medical care from the best liver surgeon in your area. Digestive & Liver Surgery Centre provides a wide range of treatments carefully tailored for each patient. Browse Dr Victor Lee’s clinic locations and surgical treatments available.

Dr Victor Lee Tswen Wen

Dr Victor Lee Tswen Wen

Senior Consultant Surgeon
MBBS (Singapore), FRCS (Edinburgh), MMed (Surgery), MSc (Bioinformatics),
FAMS (General Surgery)

With 20 years of surgical experience, Dr Lee is trained and skilled in using minimally invasive techniques for liver, pancreas, gallbladder and hernia procedures.

His busy practice aside, Dr Lee is actively involved in postgraduate teaching and workshops for junior surgeons, and is still actively involved in academic research at the National University of Singapore.

Treatment for hepatobiliary conditions,such as those affecting the liver and gallbladder,are complex and require specialized expertise to manage effectively.

For a personalized assessment, contact our clinic at 6737 8878 or drop us a message here.
Your welfare is our priority and we will be in touch with you soon.

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