Most everyone wants a slim and toned midsection. But achieving this cosmetic ideal isn’t always easy. Stubborn pockets of fat often seemingly resist all diet and exercise efforts. In other cases, massive weight fluctuations or pregnancy lead to excess skin and weakened abdominal muscles — problems that are not possible to treat with lifestyle changes.

In all these cases, two body contouring procedures, liposuction and tummy tuck surgery, can help. These techniques were designed to effectively and permanently remove excess fat, correct separated abdominal wall muscles and remove and tighten excess sagging skin. Because they are meant for patients with similar cosmetic goals (i.e., a slimmer, tighter abdomen), there can be some confusion when it comes to choosing the right procedure. Here’s a quick guide on these popular procedures to help you understand their differences.

What Is Liposuction?

Also called suction-assisted lipectomy, liposuction is a popular body contouring procedure. During liposuction, surgeons use blunt-tip cannulas, a vacuum pump and an aspirator to break up and quite literally suction out excess fat.

What Areas Can Be Treated With Liposuction?

Nearly any area of the body with excess fat can be treated with this procedure. However, the most commonly treated areas are the:

  • Abdomen
  • Flanks
  • Buttocks
  • Thighs

Can Liposuction Replace Weight Loss?

The primary goal of liposuction is to improve body contours by removing areas of excess fat. However, the procedure cannot replace weight loss, as the maximum amount of fat that can be safely removed with liposuction is typically between six and eight pounds. Weight loss also offers countless health benefits not gained through a surgical procedure such as liposuction.

What Is Tummy Tuck Surgery (Abdominoplasty)?

Abdominoplasty, popularly called a “tummy tuck,” is a type of body contouring surgery that can address multiple cosmetic issues in the midsection at once:

  • Excess abdominal fat
  • Loose or sagging abdominal skin
  • Separated abdominal wall muscles (diastasis recti)

These concerns are addressed through an incision along the lower abdomen, through which the muscles are tightened, fat is surgically excised (cut away), and the overlying skin is tightened and excess is removed.

Who Are Candidates for Abdominoplasty?

Like liposuction of the abdomen, abdominoplasty aims to achieve a more aesthetically pleasing midsection. However, tummy tuck surgery is designed for different types of patients than those typically needing liposuction:

  1. Women with significant skin sagging and abdominal wall laxity following pregnancy
  2. Bariatric patients with excess skin following major weight loss
  3. Other patients with excess abdominal skin and separated abdominal wall muscles

Liposuction vs. Abdominoplasty

Liposuction and abdominoplasty are surgical body contouring procedures that can improve the appearance of the abdominal area. While some of their goals are similar, the two procedures differ significantly in their uses, techniques, risks and recovery. Here’s what you should know about each:


Liposuction Uses

Liposuction removes unwanted fat from different areas. It can be performed on almost any part of the body, from the face and neck to the arms, legs and midsection. However, it cannot address skin sagging and a weak abdominal wall.

Abdominoplasty Uses

Abdominoplasty, on the other hand, is surgery performed on the abdominal area only. While it can also remove unwanted pockets of fat, its main goal is to tighten abdominal skin and muscles. A tummy tuck can sometimes be paired with liposuction when necessary.


Liposuction Techniques

Liposuction uses less invasive surgical techniques than abdominoplasty. During a typical liposuction procedure, your surgeon creates very small incisions, no more than half an inch. They insert a thin cannula through these incisions to break up and then suction out unwanted fat. The incisions don’t require stitches, and the surgery can sometimes be performed under local anesthesia.

Abdominoplasty Techniques

Abdominoplasty, in comparison, requires a more invasive approach. Performed under general anesthesia, the procedure starts with an incision that extends from hip to hip. The surgeon then lifts the abdominal skin, repairs the underlying muscles with sutures and cuts away excess skin and fat. The incisions are then closed, usually in multiple layers to reduce skin tension for optimal healing.

Potential Risks

Liposuction Risks

All procedures carry some level of risk. But the less invasive a procedure, the less risk involved. So, since liposuction is less invasive than abdominoplasty, it is generally safer for most patients. The most common complications following a liposuction are:

  • Bruising
  • Contour irregularities
  • Seromas (fluid build-up)
  • Numbness

Less commonly, patients can develop life-threatening complications like pulmonary embolism or adverse reactions to the anesthetic.

Abdominoplasty Risks

Abdominoplasty, on the other hand, is quite invasive, involving general anesthesia and deep incisions to access the abdominal wall musculature. The surgery also involves excisions to remove tissue. As a result, up to a third of tummy tuck patients may develop:

  • Bleeding
  • Bruising
  • Seromas

Thankfully, these can be managed with post-surgery drains and careful patient monitoring. Less commonly, patients can experience severe infections, blood clots and lung-related problems. But when performed by qualified, skilled and experienced surgeons like Dr. DuMornay, the risk of developing severe complications is very low — less than one percent.


Liposuction Recovery

Like your level of risk, the speed of your recovery also depends on how invasive the treatment is. With that said, liposuction leads to quicker recovery than abdominoplasty. Most patients are back on their feet a day after their procedure and can return to their routine within two weeks. By six weeks, patients have fully healed and can enjoy the results of their treatment.

Abdominoplasty Recovery

After an abdominoplasty, patients need to remain in a bent “Semi-Fowler” position for a couple of days. This is so tension isn’t placed on the incisions and to allow the abdomen to heal properly. However, gentle movement and walking should start as soon as possible to prevent blood clots. Patients are also given antibiotics, anticoagulants and support garments to prevent complications and help with the recovery. It can take up to a month before you can get back to your normal routine.

Can You Combine Liposuction and Tummy Tuck Surgery?

Yes! Many patients wanting an abdominoplasty can also benefit from liposuction on the abdomen, flanks and/or outer thighs to create smooth body contours. While a combination approach can yield better results in some patients, we may recommend staging the procedures for higher-risk patients since it can also be riskier and require a longer recovery.

Want to Learn About Your Surgical Body Contouring Options?

If you’re unhappy with your midsection and want help getting your body back, surgical body contouring with liposuction and/or abdominoplasty can help.

At Broward ENT & Aesthetics, our goal is to provide cosmetic enhancements that improve our patients’ lives. We also want to make your experience as comfortable and safe as can be. Let us help you reach your cosmetic goals and join our list of many satisfied clients whom we’ve helped achieve the same.

Call 954-368-3348 or contact us online today! We will review your options and find a body contouring approach that suits your unique needs and goals.

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