When it comes to the abdomen, excess fat and other problems can cause frustration, self-image issues, and even health problems.

Both the tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, and liposuction procedures offer patients the ability to make changes to this area.

However, many patients have questions about how the procedures differ from one another and which procedure is right for their specific concerns.

Once you learn more about both tummy tuck and liposuction procedures, it’s easier to decide which one might best fit your needs. Read on to learn more about how and why they are performed.

The Liposuction Procedure

Liposuction is a very effective and widely used procedure that can do more than treat just the abdomen. Many patients opt for liposuction treatments in various places on the body, including the abdomen, buttocks, cheeks, chin, hips, knees, neck, thighs, upper arms, and waist. It is designed to target stubborn areas of fat that diet and exercise have not been able to eliminate.

There are three main techniques for performing liposuction surgery: super-wet, tumescent, and ultrasound assisted liposuction. In super-wet and tumescent liposuction, a medicinal solution is injected into the treatment area.

This fluid includes an anesthetic, epinephrine, and saline. For super-wet liposuction, less fluid is used than in tumescent techniques. With ultrasound liposuction, ultrasound energy is used to melt the targeted fatty deposits before they are removed.

All three liposuction techniques begin with the placement of well-hidden tiny incisions at the treatment area. Using a cannula, or small tube, the plastic surgeon will work to loosen the fat and vacuum it up through the tube.

With each technique, the length of time your surgery lasts will depend on how much fat is being removed. Following your procedure, you will experience some bruising and swelling for about seven to 10 days.

The Liposuction Patient

While it can offer tremendous benefits to the right candidate, liposuction surgery isn’t for everyone. Ideally, prospective patients are men or women in good physical health without any existing conditions that may slow the healing process.

They should not smoke and should be interested in improving their physical contour, not substituting surgery for weight loss. The best results are typically seen in patients with firm skin and muscles, without any significant looseness. The procedure itself is designed only to remove fat, not to improve firmness.

The Tummy Tuck Procedure

Many factors can affect the tone and contour of your abdomen, including weight loss and weight gain, aging, your family history, pregnancies, and more. The muscles and skin often become lax in this area, sagging and leading to a wider waistline.

Sometimes fat collects here as well, forming love handles at the hips or pooches in unwanted places. A tummy tuck is designed to address all of these concerns, leaving you with a tighter, smoother abdomen with improved contour and shape. It takes liposuction a step further to include the tightening of muscles and skin.

Typically, tummy tuck surgery lasts two to five hours, beginning with an anesthetic or sedative. Your surgeon will place horizontal incisions near the pubic hairline and sometimes near the belly button for skin removal from the upper abdomen, if needed.

Next, the abdominal muscles are tightened with sutures and extra skin will be removed. When necessary, liposuction can be used to remove excess fat deposits for a smoother contour.

Recovery from your tummy tuck is a bit more involved, requiring at least a few days of strict downtime before you can gradually resume your activities. Your plastic surgeon will be able to help you plan for your recovery time and tell you exactly what to expect.

The Tummy Tuck Patient

When it’s more than excess fat that is troubling you about your abdomen, you may be a good candidate for tummy tuck surgery. Patients should be in good physical health, eat a healthy diet, and exercise regularly as these factors help indicate that the abdominal issues are more than just extra weight. A tummy tuck should not be confused with a weight management technique.

Rather, it is meant to help you when these traditional methods have failed. If you are planning to lose weight, it is best to wait to have your tummy tuck until you are closer to your target weight goal.

You may also want to hold off on abdominoplasty if you are planning future pregnancies. Discuss these factors with your plastic surgeon to make an appropriate treatment plan for your needs.

With a tummy tuck, patients will receive a multi-layered approach that is different from the liposuction procedure. It is not uncommon to have these two procedures performed together, but the liposuction cannot address skin and muscle in the way that a tummy tuck does.

When a complete overhaul is required to get your desired results, consult with a plastic surgeon about a tummy tuck surgery.

Decide Which Is for You

Get the surgical results that you really want from your body contouring procedure by finding a credentialed facial plastic surgeon who will work with you to achieve them. Schedule your consultation with Dr. Robert Kessler, a board certified general and plastic surgeon, and find out if you’re a good candidate.

He completed his medical degree with honors from Tufts University in Boston as well as a distinguished General Surgical Residency with North Short/NYU in New York, before a Plastic Surgery residency with the US Air Force and the University of Texas.

Today, Dr. Kessler operates two practices in California, has worked as a surgical consultant and surgical assistant on ABC’s Extreme Makeover, and has lectured nationally and internationally on topics including facial rejuvenation, plastic surgery, and body contouring after substantial weight loss. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Kessler, contact his office, located at 2121 E Pacific Coast Hwy #200, in Newport Beach, California by calling 949.644.6544.

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