Can you reverse fatty liver disease?
Dr Norman Swan
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.
Last Reviewed: 09/07/2020
Fatty liver is a condition most commonly found in heavy drinkers or people who are obese or have diabetes. There are usually no symptoms.
Cirrhosis of the liver is a severe and irreversible liver disease, where healthy tissue is progressively replaced by scar tissue (fibrosis).
Animation: Effects of obesity
Obesity can compromise your health in many ways. View our animation to find out how.
Hepatitis B infection can be either acute (short-lived) or chronic (long-term). Chronic hepatitis B can lead to complications such as liver cirrhosis.
Liver function testing
Find out about the substances tested in liver function tests (blood tests) and how they can help determine the health of your liver.