An issue that comes up often in evaluating the belly is the decision between Liposuction (Liposculpture) and Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty). I am all for using the smallest procedure possible to make the abdominal wall look good. A smaller procedure usually has a faster recovery, less risk and less expense.
Liposuction is an excellent procedure for removing localized disproportionate fat. It makes use of small, usually hidden, incisions and allows the body to be contoured with minimal changes to the skin. It works best in patients with discreet pockets of fat who have good skin tone.
Loose skin, on the other hand, is an indication for a Tummy Tuck. While Liposuction can remove fat, a Tummy Tuck can remove fat and noticeably tighten both the skin and the muscles of the abdominal wall. Removing the excess skin is accomplished with a low abdominal incision. This can also remove previous low abdominal scars and any stretch marks on the lower abdomen. Placing sutures into the tough lining covering the anterior abdominal wall muscles tightens the abdominal wall like an internal corset.
Which procedure is the correct one for you depends on many factors, and the decision is best made during consultation with a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon. Liposuction may be best for some, while a tummy tuck will be better for others. For some people a hybrid of the two procedures, like a Mini Tummy Tuck may be better.
The following rules usually apply: If your skin tone is good (tight) and there is are localized areas of fat in the abdominal wall or sides, Liposuction can often help. If your skin is loose or redundant (folding over) and the underlying muscles are lax (commonly seen after weight loss or pregnancy), then a Tummy Tuck will provide superior correction.
Additionally, pain pumps can help decrease postoperative discomfort, and speed recovery for Tummy Tucks. Liposuction, Tummy Tucks (Abdominoplasty) and Mini Tummy Tucks (Mini-Abdominoplasty) all work better if you are near your ideal weight and a non-smoker. Smokers have a greatly increased risk of wound healing problems when compared with their non-smoking counterparts.
By: Joseph Mele MD, FACS