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Liposuction Resources

The Difference Between Tummy Tuck and Liposuction

Christopher Chung, M.D.
American Board of Plastic Surgery
Chief Medical Officer
Sono Bello

Considering either a tummy tuck or a liposuction to change the appearance of your midsection? It may help to know what goes into each procedure, and what you can expect when making your decision.

Understanding the differences between lipo vs. tummy tuck–and what other options might be available to help you achieve your desired look–can be helpful for determining which procedure is right for you.

Liposuction vs. Tummy Tuck: Understanding the Differences and Which Option is Best For You

Liposuctions and tummy tucks are similar in that each is performed by a surgeon and each may require anesthesia. However, there are key differences between each procedure that should be taken into account when deciding whether a liposuction or a tummy tuck is right for you.

What Is Liposuction (Lipocontouring)?

Since we are truly contouring all features of the Abdominal aesthetic unit in a three-dimensional approach to the shape of the abdomen and leaving the skin to follow the lead of the new and improved contour other in those cases that demonstrate too much excess skin. Most patients who are not happy about their abdomens have contour and not skin issues.  This fact explains the fact the lipocontouring is the second most common aesthetic surgical procedure in the US.

What Is a Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty)?

Abdominoplasty is a two-dimensional procedure where the skin is removed from the lower abdomen, a wide incision is made in the lower abdominal crease from hip to hip and around the umbilicus to allow for the advancement of the skin of the abdomen toward the umbilicus, the removal of the excess skin and the tightening of the entire abdomen in one dimension, vertical.

– Anesthesia:  a full abdominoplasty as described above requires general anesthesia

– Complications:  infection, hematoma, skin necrosis, serum Scar hypertrophy or keloid.

Why Choose Aesthetic Abdominal Surgery?

One major similarity between a tummy tuck vs liposuction is that each is considered an aesthetic abdominal surgery, ideal for helping individuals looking to change the appearance of their midsection.

What Causes an Aesthetic Abdominal Deformity?

There are several reasons that anyone, even someone with otherwise normal body weight or proportions, may develop a protruding, loose, or sagging abdomen:

– Regular effects of aging

– Hereditary predisposition

– Body changes from pregnancy

– Significant increases or decreases in weight

– Effects from a prior surgery

What Are the Best Solutions for Removing Aesthetic Abdominal Deformities?

The right solution for correcting an aesthetic abdominal deformity through surgery may depend on your particular situation, and which procedure best matches your expectations and your desired results.

Liposuction Vs. Tummy Tuck: Which is The Right Choice for Me?

The major difference between liposuction and a tummy tuck really comes down to each patient’s specific needs.

A liposuction procedure focuses specifically on removing small fat deposits in the stomach area, hips, thighs, or buttocks. Generally, liposuction focuses exclusively on shaping and contouring body areas by removing fat.

A tummy tuck, on the other hand, also involves the removal of excess skin around the abdomen. For individuals who have loose, sagging, or protruding skin on the abdomen, a tummy tuck may be able to help remove some of that excess skin.

While both procedures are performed on and around the abdomen, liposuction generally does not involve removing excess skin, while a tummy tuck does.

Tummy Tuck vs. Panniculectomy: What Are The Differences?

For some patients considering a tummy tuck, another popular option may be panniculectomy. This procedure, though similar, differs from the traditional tummy tuck (and liposuction) in a few important ways.

What is a Panniculectomy? The pannus is a flap of skin that hangs down over the stomach after a large amount of weight is lost, sometimes following bariatric surgery for weight loss or after complications from pregnancy. A panniculectomy removes this excess skin surgically, sometimes in combination with a tummy tuck.

Panniculectomy vs. Tummy Tuck: Though often confused for one another (and often performed together), a panniculectomy specifically focuses on removing sagging or excess skin on the abdomen after weight loss. A tummy tuck takes this one step further by repairing loosened, stretched, or split abdominal muscles, and is usually more extensive than a panniculectomy.

Who Is A Good Candidate For Liposuction vs. Tummy Tuck?

When a patient is seen in consultation for aesthetic abdominal surgery, there is commonly some confusion as to which procedure will best achieve optimal results: liposuction vs. tummy tuck.

Generally, the two can be separated by the responsible tissues that cause the aesthetic abdominal deformity: skin, fat or muscle.  So as with most procedures, the consult starts with a discussion of what exists (often times, it’s a combination of the three but with varying expressivity).  Once this is identified, a tailored treatment plan can be established to achieve the patient’s goal.

When a surgeon examines an abdomen in prep for a recommendation of how to proceed with the body sculpting project, he/she sees evidence of massive weight loss (bypass or band), number of pregnancies, multiple pregnancy (twins), hernias, loss of skin elasticity (stretch marks), in addition to the compartmentalized deposition of fat in the upper abdomen, lower abdomen, waist, pubis. This is what we call the Aesthetic Diagnosis.

Once these features are documented they should be aligned with the patient’s aspirations, aka, expectations. That can sometimes be a difficult process, however, it is best accomplished by distilling the project down to the issues that are creating the less than desired abdominal contour. Once patients understand this process, they start to truly understand the advantages and limitations of liposuction vs tummy tuck procedures.

Abdominal Lipocontouring: What Are The Benefits?

There are several types of people who may particularly benefit from an abdominal lipocontouring procedure, including:

– Men who work out and cannot get rid of circumumbilical fat.

– Women who cannot get rid of lower abdominal fat after having babies but with young resilient skin that does not need to be excised to achieve contour improvements.

– Post-menopausal women who cannot selectively de-fat their abdomens due to “middle age” hormone distribution of fat

– Patients with surgical scars where fat deposits in bulging patterns around the scars

– Patients that due to their genetics deposit out of their fat in their abdomens despite diet and exercise programs

Important Factors to Consider When Choosing Abdominal Lipocontouring

There are several important details and expected outcomes to consider when planning for an abdominal lipocontouring procedure, including:

– Rare complications:  seroma, hematoma, infection but eat of less significance than in an abdominoplasty since a large flap is not created

– Insignificant well-placed Scars*

– Three-dimensional improvement and contouring

– Removes fat cell populations that will not selectively store fat in these areas thus actually defying genetics/gender propensity of fat deposition: for instance, the 40-year-old woman who has contouring will NOT develop the typical shape in the abdomen of the 60-year-old woman since we have proactively removed fat cells to preclude selective deposition later.

Receiving Anesthesia for Abdominal Lipocontouring: What To Expect

– Rapid recovery

– Thus, the artistic opportunity for the plastic surgeon is global with lipocontouring and one dimensional for the abdominoplasty. Abdominoplasty is actually the operation of choice when skin is the only issue.

– LipoContouring is used to contour the entire abdominal aesthetic unit from rib cage to pubis and sometimes beyond into the waist and pubis is necessary to create optimal shape.

Sono Bello’s Tummy Tuck and Liposuction Options

Sono Bello has pioneered several successful tummy tuck alternatives to help people achieve their desired body shape, including our popular TriSculpt procedure. If you’re interested in a tummy tuck alternative to help contour your abdomen, we can help.

Sono Bello is the premier center for the delivery of the state of the art techniques in lipocontouring. The meticulous medical oversight and the sheer number of cases have made Sono Bello the go. Patients seeking lipocontouring are in all age groups.  Abdominoplasty patients are limited generally to the baby makeover, massive weight loss, of intense cardio weight loss groups.

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