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So many of us despair when we look in the mirror naked and see a thickening waistline. It can be even more disheartening when you are fully clothed and that dreaded muffin top seems more prominent than ever. It ruins your silhouette and spoils the line of your clothing.

Some of us try to hide it by wearing loose clothing, others accept it but many others will look for ways to address it and remove it. Ways include dieting (particularly if there has been a period of weight gain), targeted exercise, and also cosmetic and surgical solutions.

Although it is a viable option, not everyone is enamored of going under the knife for what is a purely elective surgical procedure. Most will try some or all of the non-surgical options.

What is a Muffin Top?

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Muffin top is a colloquial term for the accumulation of fat around the midsection, the tummy area just above the hips. It gets this name for how it resembles the way a muffin cake crowns over the edges of the paper case.

It is also called a spare tire, belly fat, jelly belly, and although not strictly locationally correct, love handles. The medical term for the area is called the flanks.

Body fat tends to form more quickly and aggressively in the abdominal area, and abdominal fat is the kind of excess fat that can often be the hardest to get rid of. A lot of people will diet or exercise to lose belly fat to obtain that flat stomach that is so desired.

Being overweight and the visual appeal (or lack) of a person’s midsection can have an impact on overall self-confidence and mental health so opting for fat loss surgery is very common and accepted all over the world in the current cosmetic landscape.

If you do not want to choose surgery, whether it be due to the required downtime or perhaps fear of permanent side effects, there are non-surgical options.

Here are some helpful suggestions for how to shred your muffin top without needing to go down the surgical route.

Weight Loss

The most obvious way to get rid of a muffin top is to not allow it to form in the first place: that is to prevent fat cells from accumulating. Easier said than done. It is a rare person who goes through life without getting a little fat somewhere, sometime.

Weight loss is required to remove excess fat cells and this is achieved through a calorie deficit diet.

There are many fad diets but the most effective is a low-calorie diet that is best achieved by removing/reducing carbs and increasing the number of lean proteins and vegetables that you consume.

Weight loss is simple in the sense that you need to burn calories faster or use more than you take in.

When a healthy weight is achieved, it needs to be maintained with a well-balanced healthy diet and regular exercise.

A Targeted Workout Regime

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Any expert … nutritionist, sports scientist, dietician, personal trainer … will tell you that successful weight loss is not just a calorie deficit diet but a combination of diet and exercise.

Exercise expends energy to burn calories by stimulating the body’s metabolism and it also helps to tone muscles and stimulate their growth.

When it comes to exercise that targets fat loss for the stomach and lower back, high-intensity interval training is highly recommended. Also known as HIIT, this is a kind of workout that encourages short, sharp bursts of hard exercise that can help to build muscle mass and almost shock the body into shrinking in size while getting stronger!

A typical HIIT routine will include ab exercises, sit-ups, crunches, squats, plank positions and lunges in repetitions, cardio moves, aerobic exercises, and strength training.

HIIT is better for targeting the midsection and lower abs than other forms of exercise like Pilates (which focuses on core strength) or weight training which improves the upper body.

Depending on how out of shape you are and how much fat you need to lose around your midsection, the act of dieting is only going to do so much for you. The fat cells under the skin will certainly melt away and disappear, but you will likely be left with an area of loose skin. This loose skin can be worked on through the HIIT exercises mentioned above. A combination of building lean muscle in place of the fat and also tightening that loose skin will lead to you regaining that flat stomach you crave.


There are cosmetic procedures to eliminate subcutaneous fat that does not require surgery, CoolSculpting, for example.

What is CoolSculpting? One of the most popular and innovative developments in recent cosmetic surgery history, CoolSculpting, also known as cryolipolysis, is a body contouring treatment.

Coolsculpting treatment for flank in a male client.

In this procedure, fat cells underneath the skin are targeted with precise and controlled cooling. The treated fat cells crystallize and are destroyed. Over time, the destroyed/dead cells are processed and eliminated naturally by the body.

Reports suggest that in just a single treatment of CoolSculpting, there is up to a 20 percent reduction in stomach fat. Logically, then, two or three further treatments will result in an even flatter, slimmer, and toned stomach until you can say that you are happy and satiated with the level of progress that has been made.

Coolsculpting treatment for flank in a female client.

While CoolSculpting is not a surgical treatment that requires anesthesia, there are a few caveats and requirements to meet to be deemed an acceptable candidate for the procedure. Cosmetic professionals request that patients be in general good health and that they be at or very close to the goal weight they set for themselves at the beginning of their fitness journey. 

CoolSculpting is successful at removing small amounts of fat that exercise will not shift (it is impossible to guarantee an absolute and specific loss of weight in a particular area through even targeted exercise). It is also successful as a complement to a diet and fitness program to enhance weight loss.

Large areas of excess fat are not suitable for CoolSculpting so the procedure is more of a finishing tool to put the icing on the cake of the hard work that you have already achieved.

It is very important to understand that CoolSculpting and its associated techniques are not a weight loss procedure to help obese people quickly rid themselves of their excess fat, but very much rather a contouring tool to be used at the end of a more intensive process done at home and in the gym.

If you like the idea of CoolSculpting but are more in the obese category than just a bit overweight, then the best advice is to adopt a healthy diet and exercise regime to lose excess weight. Then you can consider CoolSculpting as the finishing touch to get rid of those last few ounces of fat and help your stomach snap back to the tight, flat washboard that it was in your youth!

Check out our FAQ on all things CoolSculpting here!

Non-Surgical Liposuction

We should include liposuction in this article because it is probably something that may be thought of in respect of weight loss.

Liposuction has become one of the most popular cosmetic treatments. Still, the traditional method is an invasive procedure so best avoided if you want to avoid surgery for a muffin top.

Recent developments in technology, however, have brought us non-surgical liposuction. This innovation is known as Vaser liposuction (vibration amplification of sound energy at resonance) and its advantages over traditional liposuction are that it is non-invasive and there is reduced downtime.

In Vaser, fat cells are targeted with ultrasound technology to break them down and they are then removed through a cannula. The treatment is performed under local anesthetic.

There is a misconception however that liposuction is a weight loss procedure. It isn’t. It is however suitable if you have a slight muffin top or you want to remove some remaining stubborn fat in the abdominal area.

Free Crop woman in oversized pants Stock Photo

It is always easier to gain weight than lose it and it’s more fun too! A muffin top is usually a clear indication that you carry more weight than you should so for health and appearance purposes, it is best to tackle the issue.

You can lose a muffin top on your own or you can take advice from healthcare professionals. If you decide upon cosmetic intervention, you will always have to have a consultation with a certified practitioner.

Z Center for Cosmetic Health offers viable options for non-surgery muffin-top loss solutions. Schedule a consultation with Dr. Zadeh to see what is right for you!