Robert M. Wald, Jr., MD - The Aesthetic Institute
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Liposuction or Tummy Tuck: Which Is Right for You?

6 Minute Read: 

When it comes to cosmetic surgery that can help you lose some weight and make you feel better in your skin, liposuction and tummy tuck are the two most common ones. Although both of these procedures will improve your midsection appearance, make no mistake, they are far from similar. They both involve incisions and require anesthesia. They are both performed by a plastic surgeon. Also, they are both cosmetic procedures, which means that your insurance won’t cover them. But this is where similarities end. To decide which is right for you, liposuction or tummy tuck, it’s useful to know about the procedure, recovery, potential complications, and who will benefit the most from them.

a woman measuring her waist

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What Do They Involve, and Who Are the Best Candidates?

Both liposuction and tummy tuck will tackle the problematic abdominal area, but they will do so in two widely different ways and address different problems.

Liposuction, I.E., Body Contouring

Liposuction is the less invasive of the two and highly effective. It’s a procedure that removes persistent fat deposits not only in the abdominal region but also on the hips, thighs, buttocks, upper arm, back, under the chin (a.k.a. double chin), and even above the knees. It’s worth noting that while it will successfully eliminate fat deposits, it will do nothing regarding skin tightening. Also, it is vital to remember that liposuction is not a weight-loss tool. It will improve your body contour, but if you suffer from obesity, this procedure is not for you.

A girl in a bathing suit in the field, choosing between liposuction or tummy tuck

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Liposuction is a great option to get rid of stubborn fat deposits

Abdominoplasty, I.E., Tummy Tuck

This more invasive surgery deals with fat and excess skin caused by stretching due to drastic weight shifts and pregnancy. Also, if sit-up muscles have gotten separated during pregnancy, the surgeon will bring them back together, creating a tighter, flatter, and stronger abdominal wall. A tummy tuck is not the right option for you, however, if your BMI (body mass index) is over 30, or you are actively trying to lose weight. Moreover, if you plan on having more children, you may want to postpone a tummy tuck. Finally, you will have to reconsider should you happen to suffer from any chronic heart conditions.

Procedure and Recovery

As already mentioned, liposuction and abdominoplasty are two very different procedures, and the recovery, therefore, also differs significantly.

Liposuction

As the word itself suggests, liposuction involves the suction of fat. Firstly, the surgeon can either opt for intravenous sedation or apply a local anesthetic. They will then create small incisions around fat deposit areas and insert a cannula, a thin tube, underneath the skin. Next, they have to break up the fat cells, and they can do so using different techniques.  For instance, they can use ultrasound, vibrations, or laser to loosen the fat. After that, it will be easier to remove it using medical vacuum suction.

After the procedure, swelling, draining, and bleeding are common occurrences. The whole recovery process will depend on the size of the area that has been worked on and if several sessions are necessary. The surgeon might recommend wearing a compression garment to help with the healing process. Also, you can be discharged from the hospital on the same day. After only 48 hours, you can resume your regular daily activities. However, it is advisable to refrain from heavy lifting and extensive cardio workouts.

Tummy Tuck

We have already mentioned that abdominoplasty is a more invasive surgery, so it requires general anesthesia. The surgeon will make an incision at the bottom of your stomach, exposing the muscles. If necessary, they will sew the muscles back together, pull the skin tightly, and cut off the excess. The entire procedure usually lasts between two and three hours, but it may as well last up to six hours. Finally, you have to prepare for having a large scar, usually extending from hip to hip. However, it fades drastically after a year and can be easily covered with clothes.

a set of surgical tools

A tummy tuck is a more invasive surgery that requires general anesthesia, and the recovery is longer. It is an important consideration when deciding which is right for you, liposuction or tummy tuck.

People who have stronger muscles recover more quickly. It is vital that surgical dressing is changed regularly, and after a day, the patient should be up and walking to prevent blood clots. Moreover, there will be a need for antibiotics and painkillers, and the surgeon may have to insert a surgical drain. Wearing a compression garment is also advised. The initial recovery phase lasts about six weeks, but the complete disappearance of swelling is expected after four months. Finally, there can be no physically strenuous activities, and several check-up appointments with the doctor are necessary.

Complications

Like every surgery, these two also pose a certain amount of risk. After both procedures, you can experience numbness, but it’s usually only temporary in the case of liposuction. Also, fluid accumulation is possible in both cases and will require draining. Moreover, infections can happen after both procedures, but in the case of a tummy tuck, it’s more common, and there can also be wound complications. In terms of more severe complications, fat embolism is a possibility in the case of liposuction, but it’s not that common. It happens if a loosened piece of fat gets trapped in the blood vessel and travels to the heart or brain. Furthermore, tissue necrosis is a complication that may follow a tummy tuck. If damaged tissue doesn’t heal or it dies, it must be removed. All in all, it is evident that abdominoplasty is a riskier surgery.

Results and Which to Choose?

Doctors claim that the results of both surgeries are permanent. However, weight gain can alter the results. Naturally, the trimmed skin after the tummy tuck cannot return, but it can stretch out again in case of pregnancy or significant weight gain.

Consultation with a doctor is advisable to determine the right option for you. The procedures are also commonly combined. The decision will depend on your body’s current appearance, numerous health factors, and the results you want to achieve.

Go for It!

Upon obtaining all the necessary information, all you need to do is make an appointment. If you are new to Orange County, you are in luck, for here, you can find some of the best cosmetic surgeons. They can eliminate all your doubts and help you decide which is right for you, liposuction or tummy tuck. If you need help settling down in Orange County area, doing something to make you feel good about yourself will definitely do the trick. 

Dr. Wald Looks forward to
helping you reach your
cosmetic goals.
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Robert Wald, MD
100 E. Valencia Mesa Drive, Suite 300
Fullerton, CA 92835


Phone: 714-312-3549
Fax: 714-738-1862