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Choosing between a Tummy Tuck and Liposuction

Achieving a flatter or better contoured abdomen is something we have many patients express concerns about. A question we hear often is “Do I need liposuction or a tummy tuck?” While we would say first no one needs either procedure, they are both purely aesthetic and elective treatments, the answer is it depends on your goals and expectations. Ultimately, both procedures aim to remove excess fat on the abdomen and improve the contour of your body, but the greatest difference is how they factor in excess skin. At KDS Aesthetics, we typically ask a few important questions to help patients narrow down which procedure will best suit their desires for a flatter tummy.

Are you more bothered by the excess skin on your tummy or your excess fat?

Liposuction does exactly what the name implies, suction is used to remove unwanted fat tissue from a specific area of the body. This might be the tummy, love handles, thighs, arms, or even under the chin. Liposuction is ideal for patients who have pockets of excess fat just beneath the skin that can easily be targeted. These patients are generally not looking to lose weight and this procedure is not a weight loss surgery. For patients who are generally fit or happy with their current weight but are not seeing results in a specific area, liposuction could be a great option. Liposuction removes targeted unwanted fat cells in the treated area. Various tools and techniques are used to create a smoother contour, or body line, with liposuction. We are able to remove bulky areas of excess fat tissue and work in greater detail to sculpt the body for the best aesthetic result.  In some cases, patients choose to use the removed fat tissue to add volume to another area through autologous fat grafting, or fat transfer. This can be done in many areas including the face to address volume loss due to aging, plumping the lips, augmenting the breast or butt, or to the hands to restore a more youthful look.

What if I am concerned about loose skin?

What liposuction does not address is loose, excess skin, but a tummy tuck does! Often when a patient has gained and lost weight or had a drastic change such as a carrying a pregnancy, the elasticity of the skin is been damaged. The saggy or stretch marked skin cannot be eliminated through liposuction. If loose skin exists, the most effective way to restore the smooth, tailored contour of the abdomen is by lifting the skin and the layer of tissues above the abdominal muscles and pulling them taught. This procedure is an abdominoplasty, more commonly called a tummy tuck. A tummy tuck can be completed as “skin only,” but is more frequently done with a tightening of the abdominal muscles along the center line of your trunk. Many patients who are ideal candidates for a tummy tuck have separation between the abdominal muscles which causes a pouched appearance in the lower abdomen.

During a tummy tuck, the entire abdomen can be addressed. Both excess fat and skin will be removed and the skin overlaying the abdomen will be positioned in a smoother, more tailored way. A new opening in the skin will be created for your belly button after the skin is pulled down. Patients will have a small, often unnoticeable scar around the belly button and a scar along the lower hip that is often covered by undergarments or a bikini bottom.

What if my excess skin is causing irritation and issues?

One additional procedure option to be aware of is a panniculectomy. Similar to a tummy tuck in that excess skin is removed, this procedure is less aesthetic and more functional. When patients have excess skin overhanging their pubic bone or causing recurrent rash, infections, or irritation, some insurance providers may offer coverage for this procedure. It is important to note, this is not the same as an abdominoplasty. Only the pannis, the excess skin below the belly button, is addressed and not correction of muscle separation is made. This procedure is solely to eliminate excess skin. There is often extensive documentation required to achieve insurance coverage for a panniculectomy and coverage is never guaranteed. Panniculectomy is often sought after extreme weight loss, like that after a bariatric surgery. Many patients find a panniculectomy will meet their needs and goals while others prefer the result that a full abdominoplasty has to offer. Other skin removal surgeries like brachioplasty and thigh lift are also available.

How do I get started with a tummy tuck or liposuction?

Just like any procedure, you can call or message the office to schedule a consultation. During a tummy tuck or lipo consult, Dr. Szymanski will meet with you and discuss your thoughts and concerns. Then, she will do a thorough exam to best understand your unique situation. Together, you and Dr. Szymanski will discuss your options and her recommendations for treatment. Once a treatment plan is decided, we will talk about your ideal timeline and what to expect in terms of cost and planning for the procedure and recovery. Some patients will schedule a procedure the day they come in for a consult, while others will come for multiple appointments to ask further questions before they are ready to schedule.

Ready to schedule your consultation? Call our team now at 252.299.2910

KDS Aesthetics is the home of Dr. Karen D. Szymanski, plastics and reconstructive surgeon. At KDS Aesthetics we believe whether your need is cosmetic or reconstructive, your outcome should be as aesthetically pleasing as possible to help you to feel like your best self without anything holding you back. Restore youthful volume to your face with in office fat transfer, explore a mommy makeover including tummy tuck and breast lift or augmentation, or learn more about Botox injections. Our plastic surgery and cosmetic team is ready to help you reach your goals.

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