MONICA SCHROEDER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MONICA SCHROEDER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Illustration comparing the appearance of (left to right) a healthy, fatty, and cirrhotic liver. Fatty liver disease is a reversible condition where large vacuoles of triglyceride fat accumulate in liver cells via the process of steatosis (i.e., abnormal retention of lipids, or fat, within a cell). It is often the result of excessive alcohol intake and/or obesity. If left untreated, fatty liver disease can progress to cirrhosis, characterized by replacement of liver tissue by fibrosis, scar tissue and regenerative nodules (lumps that occur as a result of a process in which damaged tissue is regenerated), leading to loss of liver function. Cirrhosis is not reversible. Treatment focuses on slowing or stopping the progression of the disease. In severe cases, a liver transplant is necessary.
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