Tummy Tuck—Abdominoplasty or Liposuction?
Every day I have patients who come in for a plastic surgery consultation for improvement of their tummy or abdominal area. Most come in saying they want a liposuction. They have heard about it on a TV cosmetic surgery program or a friend had it, etc. The way I see it, it is part of my job as a board-certified plastic surgeon to educate my patients as to the different surgeries available so they make the choice of what they need—not just me telling them what to do!
Actually, very few women who have had a pregnancy can benefit from a liposuction of the abdomen alone. Once the elasticity of the skin is gone, as happens with pregnancy or significant weight gain followed by weight loss, you need to have a tummy tuck: liposuction of the fat, tightening of the muscles of the abdomen and removal of extra skin with a scar above the pubic area. My aim is to get you into a bikini. Unfortunately, some plastic surgeons, both here in the US and, especially, those in South America with a “cosmetic tourist practice,” opt to put scars going across the middle of the abdomen and call that a tummy tuck. It is less work and there is less chance for wound complications. It is also a waste of time and condemns the patient to a life of one-piece bathing suits because he/she looks like they have been cut in half!
The only women who benefit from an abdominal lipo alone are those who have not had a pregnancy or significant weight loss—typically younger women. In fact, most of the liposuctions I do in the tummy area are on men; few women have good enough skin.
The abdominoplasty surgery takes about 2.5 hours and is an outpatient surgery procedure with a ten-day recovery. Final results occur in 2-4 months, but there is a gradual but steady improvement in body shape and a decrease in post-operative swelling. Lately I have stopped using drains in my tummy tuck patients, and that has helped increase patient comfort.
Liposuction alone also takes about 2.5 hours as an outpatient surgery but has a shorter initial recovery period, although final healing still takes four months. Come in for a consultation and I’ll teach you how to decide which surgery you need.
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