The appearance of the tummy or abdomen can be a great source of concern for many men and women. They may have lost a great deal of weight or seen a degree of skin laxity appear as they have got older, whilst women may have suffered the adverse effects of multiple pregnancies, with large babies or twins often to blame. Many patients visit my Leamington cosmetic surgery clinic enquiring whether they’d be best suited to a tummy tuck or to liposuction.
The difference between a tummy tuck and liposuction
Liposuction is aimed at removing excess areas of fat from the face and body, including the neck and chin, the tummy and flanks, and the arms, the hips and the thighs. Tiny incisions are made – usually in places where they will be well-hidden afterwards – and a cannula inserted that will gently suction out the fat cells. With liposuction, it is possible to achieve a degree of contouring.
A tummy tuck (known medically as an abdominoplasty) is a more or less extensive cosmetic surgical procedure that involves an incision of variable length across the abdomen, usually just above the pubic area. Through this access the abdominal wall muscles, often severely stretched by pregnancy, can be tightened up these if necessary. Loose skin is then removed to produce a more pleasing overall appearance.
The type of tummy tuck carried out varies according to each patient’s individual problem and needs. Mini-tummy tucks just tighten the lower tummy skin (ie below the belly button), possibly with some muscle tightening in that area. A simple abdominoplasty, using an incision extending across the lower tummy from one upper hip to the other, tightens the tissues all the way up to the rib cage and allows for full muscle tightening, whilst the incision can also be extended round onto the lower back if the looseness of the tissues requires that (extended abdominoplasty).
It is important to understand that, for the most part, the bewildering array of non-surgical, non-invasive or minimally invasive body contouring devices and interventions on the market only have a limited effect, often turning out to be very costly for little longer-term benefit, and anyone with this kind of problem is best advised to see a Consultant Plastic Surgeon for advice on the best and most appropriate treatment for their situation.
Are you best suited for a tummy tuck or liposuction?
Evaluating the physical state of the prospective patient is an essential part of any consultation at my Warwickshire cosmetic surgery clinic. Although liposuction is very effective at removing fat, it will not tighten significantly sagging skin, so, if you have more than very minimal skin laxity, it will not produce the results you desire. Similarly, liposuction will not have any impact on the underlying muscles so, again, a tummy tuck might be the preferred option if there is bulging or fullness because your abdominal muscles have weakened and separated.
Future plans are also discussed during a tummy tuck or liposuction consultation. Although a tummy tuck will not hinder a woman from becoming pregnant or undergoing childbirth, neither will it stop skin and muscles from becoming stretched; so women who have not yet had children should factor in the possibility of needing a repeat procedure in the future.
Often, though, it is not a case of either-or; liposuction and abdominoplasty can sometimes be combined safely in a single procedure and, skilfully done, this can be a very effective approach, producing gratifying results.