Fatty Liver and Fibrosis?

Woman in a doctors office participating in Clinical Research

Fatty Liver and Fibrosis are two conditions that by themselves can cause serious health concerns, but when found together, it can be a deadly combination. Fatty liver disease (FLD) is the build-up of extra fatty tissue inside the liver cells. Normal livers have small spaces between cells to allow blood flow, but fatty livers lack this space. So the blood flow is reduced, which might lead to hepatic encephalopathy – a condition where there is toxic pressure on the brain due to poor circulation and reduced oxygen supply.

This often leads to confusion and impaired thinking abilities – symptoms of fatty liver disease:    

– Loss of appetite


 – Feeling full after eating very little

 – Tiredness

– Weight loss(not always)

Fibrosis is scar tissue that develops in the liver when there is chronic damage to the liver cells. Fibrosis makes it difficult for blood to flow through, which can cause fatty livers, and when fatty liver enlarges, it restricts blood flow even more. Fibrosis may also lead to cirrhosis, which in turn reduces the body’s ability to fight infection. As fatty livers progress, they become harder, which places pressure on other tissues in the abdomen, causing pain and swelling of legs and ankles known as “edema.” Liver cancer has been linked with fatty liver disease, so early diagnosis is crucial.

Symptoms of fibrosis:       

– Mild itching

– Aching pain in the area of your liver

– Swelling of legs or feet

– Weight loss

Fatty Liver Disease is diagnosed by testing levels of fatty substances (lipids) in the blood and then further testing with imaging techniques like ultrasound to determine the severity. On the other hand, Fibrosis can not be tested for directly but can be seen on an ultrasound scan, where fatty livers are often associated with fibrosis. Fibrosis may also be detected through a biopsy (removal of tissue), usually taken using a fine needle. Treatment for fatty liver disease involves dietary changes like weight loss, reducing fatty foods, and increasing fiber intake; medication (“pharmacotherapy”) may also be prescribed. Fibrosis is a progressive disease, and fatty livers can eventually develop into cirrhosis, which has no cure today; however, treatment focuses on slowing the progression of the condition. There are also other alternative treatments being studied as well that have shown promising results in some cases.

Fatty Liver Disease and Fibrosis are often found together. Still, fatty liver is usually less severe than fibrosis, so it’s important to have regular checkups if fatty liver disease is suspected. Early detection will stop the fatty liver from developing further and prevent complications such as hepatitis or cirrhosis of the liver.