It’s a question our Columbia patients ask all the time. While tummy tuck and liposuction surgeries are closely related in their ultimate results — a slimmer, fitter midsection — they take different paths to achieve those results, depending on what your plastic surgeon is looking to correct.
Here’s some background on each procedure and tips for understanding which is right for you.
Tummy Tuck: Excess Skin & Weakened Muscles
In a tummy tuck, the primary target of the procedure is excess skin. Many natural life events can leave patients with loose, flabby skin that has lost its elasticity, such as pregnancy or fluctuations in weight over time. Once the elasticity is gone, no amount of careful dieting and exercise will tone the area. A tummy tuck removes the excess skin, via an incision made beneath the bikini line in women or waistline in men.
More often than not, pregnancy also causes diastasis recti — literally, separation of the rectus abdominis muscles. The pressure of an expanding womb often leads to a space between the ab muscles that remains after giving birth. A tummy tuck corrects this condition by tightening the muscles in the area, effectively reconnecting muscle fibers to bring them closer together again.
If you have a bulging midsection and your skin seems to be stretched, then a tummy tuck may be right for you.
Liposuction: Stubborn Fat
When patients at a stable weight find themselves unable to diminish stubborn pockets of fat, liposuction is the most effective solution to the problem. Methods and technologies vary slightly, but the defining element of liposuction is the use of a cannula or wand to remove fat in a targeted way.
Of course, accumulation of fat is not limited to the midsection. Liposuction can remove fat from many other areas, such as the flanks, back, and thighs.
If your skin seems relatively elastic, and your primary concern is stubborn fat, then liposuction may be right for you.
When to Combine Them
Sometimes the ideal outcome involves a combination of tummy tuck and liposuction. This is true when both excess skin and pockets of fat are contributing to the unsatisfactory look of the midsection.
If you have both stubborn fat and stretched skin and other tissues, a combination approach may be right for you.
If you’re uncertain about whether it’s skin, fat, or both causing your concerns, contact us for an in-person consultation. Distinguishing cases like these is part of our job as board-certified plastic surgeons. It’s a call we make based on years of experience with prior patients, with your goal of a smoother, toned abdomen in mind.