Developing treatments for fatty liver disease is one of the most active—and most frustrating—areas of clinical research. There are currently no effective approved medications for the treatment of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) or alcoholic liver disease, but there are many candidates in the pipeline. Unfortunately, numerous experimental medications that looked promising in early studies have not proved effective in larger clinical trials.

If your cholesterol or blood glucose levels are elevated, your doctor may prescribe medications to manage these conditions. If NASH has progressed to cirrhosis, drugs may be prescribed to manage water retention or hepatic encephalopathy. If NASH has progressed to complete liver failure or liver cancer, liver transplantation may be considered.

With no approved medical treatments, the management of fatty liver diseascan relies on lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet, limiting alcohol consumption, exercising regularly and getting enough sleep. In some cases, bariatric surgery, which involves modifying the digestive system to help people lose weight, can be an effective intervention.

In addition, people with fatty liver disease should follow medical advice about keeping diabetes and high cholesterol in check, and they should received regular monitoring for signs of advanced liver disease.

Last Reviewed: January 27, 2023