There are various causes of a fatty liver. A fatty liver is what it says it is, it’s fat in the liver. And it affects liver function as well.
The commonest cause is obesity, and many people have fatty liver and don’t realise it, even with small amounts of overweight.
If you’ve got fatty liver, for example, and you drink, you increase the risk of cirrhosis quite considerably. It really does – your liver becomes much more sensitive to damage.
So the question about whether fatty liver disease can be reversed depends on how much damage it’s done to your liver. For example, through concomitant use of alcohol. And if all you’ve got is a fatty liver, and you go on weight reduction, then there is evidence that you can reverse fatty liver disease. You will get less fat in your liver and it’s one of the signs that you’re getting better, in the same way as you reduce the fat around your abdomen. The ideal of course is that you don’t get to that point. But if the cause is obesity, then reversing fatty liver disease is possible.
Dr Norman Swan, Physician and Journalist