While you may think liposuction and a tummy tuck are one and the same, there are actually a few differences between the two. It all has to do with the abdominal wall, whether or not you have excess fat and whether loose skin is present after extreme weight loss or pregnancy. Depending on your situation, your plastic surgeon will recommend one or the other. Let’s take a look at what makes the two procedures different and what their respective recovery times are.
If you have recently lost a lot of weight and are left with excessive loose skin on your stomach, a tummy tuck—technically called abdominoplasty—may be order. This procedure involves removing excess fat and skin and restoring weakened or separated muscles for a smoother and firmer belly, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. While many people strive to get a tighter stomach through diet and exercise, this isn’t always possible due to several factors, such as age, heredity, extreme weigh fluctuations and past pregnancy. As a result, many people—particularly older women—enlist the help of a plastic surgeon to address the sagging skin and pull it tighter.
This procedure is a bit different in that it’s not quite as invasive as an abdominoplasty. Liposuction is a process that removes small bulges of fat—not cellulite—which diet and exercise can’t fix; the procedure is most commonly performed on the hips, stomach, abdomen, thighs, buttocks, and face, according to WebMD. Candidates for this procedure should be of average weight with firm skin and concentrated pockets of fat. Liposuction can be done in the doctor’s office or at an outpatient facility. The doctor performing the surgery makes small incisions to remove fat through the insertion of a suction device. Liposuction usually requires only local anesthetic, while a tummy tuck entails general anesthesia.
The overall result of both procedures is largely the same but with a few small differences. One difference is that a tummy tuck can effectively remove stretch marks and other scars because some skin is actually removed. With liposuction, no skin is removed—only fat is suctioned out. That’s why liposuction is best for those who already have tight abdominal muscles with firm skin tone. A tummy tuck will tighten up the abdomen and smooth out the skin to result in a tighter stomach. Your doctor will let you know which procedure is best for your body type. Generally, older women who have had babies and need to tighten up their abdominal muscles, as well as remove sagging skin, are good candidates for tummy tucks. Those who want to remove fat from their stomachs but don’t need abdominal tightening are better candidates for liposuction. Recovery time for a tummy tuck can be up to four times longer than for liposuction. The procedure is also much more invasive and presents more risks.
Be sure to always get a consult with a plastic surgeon to go over all possible options before undergoing surgery. You can contact us today for a complimentary consultation!