What Is Best For Me? A Tummy Tuck or Liposuction?
During a body contour consultation, this is a common question—usually, the decision is not that difficult. Excess skin issues require an abdominoplasty (tummy tuck), whereas extra fat beneath the skin is best treated with liposuction. Every concern, though, is a matter of degree, and often there are several issues to address at once. We then need to look at the pros and cons of each procedure and determine what is best for each patient.
What concerns can each procedure improve upon?
1. Excess fat
2. Excess skin
3. Loose abdominal muscles or core muscles
4. Visceral fat accumulates deep inside the intestines, liver, and kidneys.
Which operation, tummy tuck, or liposuction would better take care of these issues?
Meeting with a patient and determining which of the four issues above is most bothersome helps me tailor the procedure to their individual needs. That is the key to happiness and satisfaction with the result.
- If one is bothered by excess fat under the skin and the skin is not too loose, liposuction will likely lead to exciting results.
- If excess skin is present, especially after pregnancy or weight loss, liposuction will probably fall far from what is desired. With extra skin, especially large or multiple rolls that hangover when sitting, a tummy tuck is most effective.
- Loose muscles can only be tightened with a tummy tuck.
- Visceral or intra-abdominal fat, unfortunately, cannot be removed with either surgery. Only weight loss can help.
How do I know if I should get muscle tightening at the time of my abdominoplasty?
That is an important decision to make based on personal preference. To help you visualize, we will look together in a full-length mirror, and you will relax your muscles to see how far the abdomen protrudes. Then we will compare to you “sucking it in,” which shows you what surgical muscle tightening may accomplish. It is a personal decision and can be very dramatic in women whose muscles have been stretched by pregnancy.
What is the difference in cost?
Abdominoplasty is a lengthier procedure, and therefore the costs are higher. However, the results are very effective and long-lasting, likely to last a lifetime without significant weight gain.
What about scars?
Liposuction is performed with very small, strategically placed incisions resulting in a minimal scar. A tummy tuck requires a longer scar, but only as long as necessary to get the best result. It is also carefully planned to be hidden beneath underwear or a bathing suit. Most patients are extremely pleased to accept a scar to get rid of the bothersome hanging skin. There is also a scar around the umbilicus, but this can be entirely hidden and far less noticeable than in the past with recent techniques.
What is the difference in recovery?
Liposuction alone will only need three or four days off from work. Abdominoplasty is a more extensive procedure, and patients must take two weeks off. Without muscle tightening, all activities can resume after three weeks. But with muscle tightening, the muscle repair must be protected from heavy lifting, straining, sit-ups, and crunches for two months. You can still be quite active, walking the neighborhood, going to work while avoiding certain strenuous activities. It is worth the trade-off because, after two months, the repair is good for life.
So, which procedure is best for me?
There are many factors like the ones I have discussed here and the health and safety of each patient. Only you can determine what is best to meet your goals and fit your lifestyle. I will help you decide with my honest opinion.