June 25th, 2011 Miguel A. Delgado Jr, MD
Tummy tuck and liposuction are completely different procedures that solve different problems. Liposuction will only remove fat under the skin and above the abdominal muscles, where a tummy tuck removes fat, skin and tightens the abdominal wall. If the patient has good muscle tone, and probably has not had children, the result with liposuction body sculpting alone can be quite dramatic. The incisions are very small and in time fade to almost invisible. I have had San Francisco Bay Area patients come in thinking that they wanted a tummy tuck or abdominoplasty only to find out that they are excellent candidates for liposuction alone. When possible, liposuction is a great procedure with excellent results, allowing the patient to return to work or regular activities within just a few days. Even though age is not a factor, older patients tend to have less elasticity in their skin which means they will not get an optimal result.
For women who have had children, or patients that have had a significant amount of weight loss, liposuction will not give them a smooth, flat stomach. In fact liposuction alone can make the condition worse by removing the foundation on which the skin rests (the underlying fat) and end up with even looser skin. To get the best result, they will need to have excision of fat, skin and tightening of lax abdominal muscles, which the tummy tuck procedure includes. In most cases, the tummy tuck procedure also includes some liposuction. There are some tradeoffs though when opting for a tummy tuck that the patient needs to be aware of. First of all the incision from the tummy tuck generally goes from hip to hip. It is placed low on the abdomen so that it is hidden in the panty line. When tightening the abdominal muscles, the belly button will need to be repositioned. The tummy tuck is one of my favorite cosmetic procedures with one of the highest ratings in patient satisfaction. Many patients find that they have an even flatter abdomen than before childbirth or weight gain. And an additional bonus is removal of a majority if not all stretch marks.