One of the most common challenges for both men and women is trying to achieve a flatter, more evenly contoured abdominal area. After multiple children, weight loss, or the natural aging process, your abdominal region may have excess fat, loose skin, stretch marks, and muscles that have loosened or spread apart over time. In order to achieve a more attractive, flat, and contoured abdomen, people often turn to the two most common procedures: Liposuction and abdominoplasty, commonly known as a tummy tuck.
What Is the Difference?
The main difference between the two procedures is what they can accomplish. Liposuction can remove excess fat in target areas and cause a small amount of skin to tighten. If there is a significant amount of excess fat, liposuction will not be effective in tightening a larger area of skin, leaving it loose and saggy. In this case, tummy tuck surgery can remove the excess skin and any stretch marks that may appear below the navel.
Tummy tuck surgery is an option for those who have weakened or separated abdominal muscles that need tightening. Childbirth and weight gain/loss can cause the abdominal muscles to weaken, resulting in an abdomen that bows outward in appearance. A tummy tuck will help make the abdomen appear flatter. In some cases, both procedures may be beneficial to achieve desired results.
Depending on the amount of fat removed, liposuction can be performed as an outpatient procedure at a doctor’s office under anesthesia. Liposuction is limited to fat reduction and requires small incisions, resulting in a less invasive procedure. However, your skin tone must be good in order to decrease chances of skin looseness after surgery.
Tummy tuck surgery is always performed under anesthesia as well. It is a longer and more complex procedure. An incision is usually made at or below the bikini line, and skin and fat are removed.
The recovery period between the two procedures is entirely different in duration. When liposuction is an outpatient procedure, most people can return to work in three to five days, and resume normal activities in two weeks. If you have additional fat that needs to be removed it may extend your recovery time. Strenuous activities require waiting about a month.
Incisions can be covered with dressings and bandages. A compression garment may be prescribed to wear to minimize swelling and help support the abdomen during healing. After undergoing tummy tuck surgery, expect to be off work and assisted with everyday tasks for about two weeks. Most people can return to work after two weeks, but healing will continue between four and six weeks. Strenuous activity may be restricted for several months to allow internal structures to heal completely.
Which Procedure Is Best for Me?
A good candidate for liposuction may be a person with good muscle tone, firm skin, and no excess of loose skin. Individuals with loose skin, stretch marks, excess fat, and weak abdominal muscles may want to consider a tummy tuck for a flatter, more toned midsection. The best way to decide which procedure is best for your needs and cosmetic desires is to consult a board-certified plastic surgeon to discuss your options.