Fatty liver: prognosis, causes and treatment

Written by: Professor Hemant Kocher
Published: | Updated: 18/07/2021
Edited by: Kalum Alleyne

Professor Hemant Kocher, an esteemed liver surgeon in London with over 25 years of experience, is here to help us understand the causes, prognosis, and treatment options for fatty liver.


Fatty liver cells


What is fatty liver?

The liver is comprised of many cells, the main ones, hepatocytes make up around 80 per cent of its mass. The other 20 per cent is made up of different types of cells, although none of them are fat cells. Fatty liver occurs when hepatocytes lose their expected structure and start to accumulate fat. It can be diagnosed via blood tests, ultrasound scans or a combination of both. There are also specific tests that can detect the severity of fatty liver.


How serious is a fatty liver?

A fatty liver can be extremely unhealthy and may provoke serious health complications including failure of the liver and kidneys, heart conditions, hypertension and cancer. Luckily however, most cases are mild and reversible if the patient makes some dietary and lifestyle changes. In these cases, medication isn’t usually needed, monitoring by a liver specialist is should be enough. This condition is quite common, it is believed roughly 1 in 3 adults in the UK have a fatty liver. A lot of fatty liver cases remain undiagnosed due to the fact that mild cases show no symptoms.


What causes fatty liver?

There are many causes of fatty liver, the most common of which is being overweight, those with a tendency to gain fat around the waist area are more susceptible. Other typical reasons include hypertension, diabetes (particularly type 2), smoking and high cholesterol. The risk of getting a fatty liver is higher when two or more of these conditions are combined.


What are the options, both surgical and non-surgical, for someone diagnosed with fatty liver?

Weight loss along with managing any underlying conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol are the most effective ways to treat a fatty liver. Monitoring by a specialist is also required once it has been diagnosed.


You can request an appointment with Professor Kocher by visiting his Top Doctors profile.

By Professor Hemant Kocher

Professor Hemant Kocher is an internationally renowned professor of liver and pancreas surgery at the University of London.

He is a leading consultant general, laparoscopic and HPB surgeon based in London. His special interests include diseases of the gallbladder and bile duct, the liver, and the pancreas. He counts innovative surgical techniques and patient care pathways among his research interests.

Professor Kocher qualified from the University of Mumbai with various distinctions before travelling to London and completing his MD at King's College London. 
A supremely knowledgeable and dedicated professional, Professor Kocher runs a multi-disciplinary pancreas and liver research program at the Barts Cancer Institute. He is at the cutting-edge of his field and keen to offer up-to-date, evidence-based techniques and treatments for his patients.

Professor Kocher has been a prolific research contributor to his discipline and has published widely. Highly respected by his peers, he has made numerous appearances in the press, worked with medical charities, and has been interviewed by the BBC. He has also gained both national and international recognition, receiving numerous prestigious awards in his field, chairing national and international committees and conferences.

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