Dieting Shrinks Liver
Written by Editor   
Tuesday, May 06, 2014 04:54 PM

A two-week-long restrictive diet appears to shrink obese patients' livers enough to make gall bladder laparoscopic surgery quicker and easier, researchers reported.  "When obese individuals diet, their livers actually shrink and that permits surgeons to more easily perform the laparoscopic surgery."  The researchers noted when livers have less fat, they are not as rigid and can be moved more easily in the surgery, with less physical damage occurring.

Researchers observed that using a very-low-calorie diet before bariatric surgery appeared to reduce liver volume and improve bariatric access.  They also note that bariatric surgery that produces weight loss in obese and morbidly obese patients also appears to cause favorable changes in the histology of the liver.

"What we found surprised us," researchers said. "Not only did we find that bariatric surgery reduced fat deposits in the liver, but we also saw that the procedure reduced liver inflammation. We also found that the procedure reversed early-stage liver fibrosis and scarring."  The type of bariatric surgery may not make a difference in benefit.

"In many ways, as long as weight loss is induced, then you are going to be able to see improvement in liver histology.  What appears critical is to reduce the inflammation in the liver, which can be achieved through weight loss and the removal of the fat deposits in the liver. In our animal studies we have observed that the liver turns from an organ that stores fat to an organ that burns fat after bariatric surgery," he said. "We are on to something important in the way that weight loss affects liver histology."

In the study reported here, 25 patients represented controls and were advised to document their dietary intake. The comparator group of 21 patients were given similar request to document food intake and were told to maintain a diet of 500 calories to 800 calories a day, Lewis said. "In a diet with calories levels that low there necessarily had to be low levels of fat. The patients on the restrictive diet appeared to stick to it for the 2 weeks, judging by an overall weight reduction of 4 kilograms (about 8.8 pounds)."

After the surgery the participants were allowed to go back to their normal diets. Researchers said that it is unlikely that patients could have remained on the diet for more than the 2 weeks. "This is a pretty restrictive diet. Two weeks they can handle, but more than that would be difficult."