It’s normal to feel some insecurity about the way we look and to look for ways to change our look. At Rios Center for Plastic Surgery in Edinburg, TX, we understand insecurities, and we offer several treatments and procedures to help you take back your self-confidence. Today, we reveal six key differences between a tummy tuck and liposuction to help you determine which, if either, will help you achieve your aesthetic goals.
What They Have in Common
A tummy tuck and liposuction both seek to improve the appearance of the abdomen. They can both be used to remove excess fat from the tummy region. But that’s about where the similarities end.
6 Key Differences Between a Tummy Tuck and Liposuction
When considering which procedure is right for you, there are six key differences you need to consider: the results of each procedure, how long the results last, what type of anesthesia you will be put under, what you can expect during the procedure, what you can expect from the recovery process and whether you are a good candidate.
The most important difference between a tummy tuck, also known as abdominoplasty, and liposuction is the results. This is the most common question we get about these procedures and it is important to understand all this as you decide which is right for you. Liposuction is used to remove body fat from a trouble region, usually the lower abdomen, upper abdomen, inner and outer thighs, chest and buttocks.
Abdominoplasty, just like liposuction, removes excess fat from the abdomen. However, it also removes excess skin. The most common reason to get an abdominoplasty is due to pregnancy, which stretches your skin and often comes with significant weight gain. The walls of your abdomen can even be stretched to the point of tearing during pregnancy. Depending on the type of abdominoplasty you receive, the walls of your rectus abdominis may be sewn together and excess skin may be removed from your upper or lower abdomen.
Once our clients understand the realistic results of the procedures, the most common follow-up question is how long will the results last. The results of both these procedures are considered permanent. However, your lifestyle has influence over how successful the long-term results will be. The results of liposuction are considered permanent because once the fat is removed the cells are gone forever. But if you gain weight in the future, remaining fat cells in the treated regions may expand, negating the results of your procedure. Remember, you can’t control where you gain fat.
The results of abdominoplasty are also considered permanent. However, again, the real longevity of the results comes down, in part, to your lifestyle after the procedure. You may end up with loose skin in the future if you gain so much weight your skin has to grow and stretch to accommodate the excess mass. The older you get, the weaker your collagen and elastin become. This increases your risk of the skin not “snapping” back in place after you lose the weight again. Moreover, ventral hernias, future pregnancy and other life events increase your risk of your abdominal walls separating again.
A fairly significant difference between abdominoplasty and liposuction is the anesthesia used. In the case of liposuction, intravenous sedation is typically used. Depending on your personal preferences, a local anesthetic may also be applied to the treatment site. During abdominoplasty, you are put under general anesthesia. During your initial consultation, we will review your current health status, personal preferences and medical history to determine which combination of sedation and anesthesia is right for you.
During liposuction, a thin tube known as a cannula
is inserted into tiny incisions made at the treatment site. The cannula is moved beneath your skin to loosen excess adipose tissue. Then, a medical-grade suction device is used to remove the dislodged fat cells.
During abdominoplasty, an incision is made at the bottom of the skin covering your abdominal wall. Once the muscle has been exposed, Dr. Rio will sew together the muscles making up your abdominal wall if it has been stretched out and separated. Any excess skin is trimmed off and the incision is closed with sutures.
5. Recovery for Two Weeks Post-Op
The recovery period of liposuction depends on how many areas were targeted, the amount of fat that needed to be removed, the technique used and several other factors. Most clients find that they can return to a white-collar job within a few days. However, you cannot return to a blue-collar job within the first two weeks post-op.
As with liposuction, abdominoplasty is an out-patient procedure. When you wake up from the general anesthesia, Dr. Rios will cover your incision in surgical dressing. This will need to be changed several times. You will also be given a compression garment called a “belly binder”. Within 24 hours post-op, you should be able to walk with assistance to mitigate the risk of blood clots. You will also need to take prescription antibiotics to mitigate your risk of infection and analgesics to alleviate discomfort. You may need surgical drains for up to two weeks post-op.
To be a good candidate for liposuction, you must have excess pockets of fat which are resistant to diet and exercise. However, you should also be within 30 pounds of your goal weight. This is a fat removal procedure rather than a weight loss procedure. If you need to lose too much fat, you may be left with excess skin and need several procedures to achieve your desired aesthetic.
To be a good candidate for abdominoplasty, you should have a body mass index no greater than 30, not be actively trying to lose weight, not suffer from a chronic heart condition and not plan to become pregnant in the future. There are no risks to you or your fetus if you get pregnant, but pregnancy causes weight gain in the abdomen particular.
This always increases the chance that you will tear your stomach wall and need another abdominoplasty in the future to correct this. You are also a good candidate for abdominoplasty if you are bothered by excess skin around your lower or upper abdomen, hips, sides and lower back.
Types of Abdominoplasty
If you think abdominoplasty is the right procedure to help you achieve your aesthetic goals and you’re a good candidate, the next logical question is which type of abdominoplasty is right for me. The three types of abdominoplasty are a mini-tuck, traditional tuck and extended tuck. Here’s what you can expect from each:
A mini-tuck is most popular among women who have never given birth. This procedure only addresses excess skin and fatty tissue beneath the navel. If you’re satisfied with your upper abdomen, this quick procedure is all you need to perfect your contours and eliminate any skin laxity or lower abdominal bulges. With a mini-tuck, your abdominal wall itself is not treated.
After significant weight fluctuations, traumatic injuries or pregnancy, the abdominal muscles can become loose or separated. A traditional tuck, like a mini-tuck, addresses excess skin and fat beneath the navel. However, it also addresses excess skin and fat above the navel. This procedure can also be used to repair the abdominal wall if it is loose, separated or damaged by a ventral hernia.
Once the abdomen is repaired, excess fatty and skin tissue are removed, the remaining abdominal skin is tightened over the repaired abdominal wall, and the navel is typically repositioned. This procedure may be combined with liposuction if you have a fairly significant amount of excess fat to be removed.
An extended tuck is most often sought by clients who have achieved significant weight loss, typically through bariatric (weight loss) surgery. With the help of this procedure, you get all the benefits of a traditional tuck. However, excess skin and fatty tissue are also removed from the thighs, hips and back. You can also use this procedure to tighten the muscles of the back and flanks.
Medical Benefits of Abdominoplasty
Abdominoplasty is often combined with several other cosmetic procedures, such as liposuction, breast reduction, vaginal rejuvenation and buttocks augmentation, as part of a “mommy makeover”. A mommy makeover is designed to help mothers take back their pre-natal bodies. However, there are several medical benefits of abdominoplasty, as well. Here are a few medical benefits of this procedure you may not be aware of:
Reduction of SUI
SUI, more commonly known as stress urinary incontinence, is a common side effect of vaginal birth. This condition is characterized by uncontrollable leakage triggered by “stress” to your bladder. If you’ve ever leaked when you laughed, coughed, sneezed, ran or jumped, you suffer from stress urinary incontinence.
If you’re dissatisfied by your abdomen and don’t want a separate procedure to cure SUI, we strongly recommend a traditional tuck with a minor bladder obstruction created with the soft tissue near your pelvis. You’ll be amazed by how much your life improves when you don’t have to worry about embarrassing, uncontrollable leaks.
Alleviated Back Pain
Poor posture is one of the leading causes of back pain. If your stomach muscles have become distended through multiple pregnancies or dramatic weight loss, no amount of diet and exercise can repair the abdominal wall. A traditional tuck tightens weak abdominal muscles, correcting lordosis, also known as sway back. Once your torn, damaged muscles are repaired, your spine is better supported by your abdominal muscles.
With an extended tuck, the back and flank muscles are also repaired and tightened. All this excess support can alleviate pain of the lower back, middle back, hips, pelvis and groin. Even better, improved posture enhances the appearance of your new toned abdomen.
With drastic weight loss often comes significant excess skin. This excess skin can make exercise difficult, if not impossible. However, exercise is one of the most important things you can do for your emotional health. First, it releases happiness chemicals, such as dopamine and serotonin, to elevate your mood in the short-term. Second, regular exercise helps you sleep better at night. Regular quality sleep is essential for regulating your stress hormones, helping you keep excess weight off and minimizing your response to life’s stressors.
Learn How to Achieve Your Aesthetic Goals Today
To learn more about the difference between a tummy tuck and liposuction, and discover which one is right for you, we strongly encourage you to contact the professional beauty experts at Rios Center for Plastic Surgery in Edinburg, TX today to schedule your initial consultation. With over two decades of experience and expertise in plastic surgery, Dr. Rios has made it his mission to help the residents of the Rio Grande Valley feel comfortable and confident in their bodies.