Many patients call my office, unhappy with their bellies and hips, but don’t know exactly which procedure will help them the most. If you are wondering if you are a candidate for liposuction or a “tummy tuck”, the answer really lies in the quality of your skin and the quantity of your skin.

Liposuction

liposuction
A careful evaluation of the quality of your skin is the most important factor that must be evaluated before performing any type of liposuction. Patients who are older or have considerable loose skin are often poor candidates for liposuction alone and may need skin removal as well. In areas like the abdomen, your previous pregnancies or weight gains and losses may make you a poor candidate for liposuction, sometimes even making the problem look worse. It is not uncommon for patients to undergo liposuction even though they were not good candidates. (See photos above) Any consultation with a board certified plastic surgeon should involve assessing your problem areas, obtaining photographs. A new way of understanding your possible outcome after surgery or liposuction is utilizing the Vectra 3D camera to provide a simulation of your possible post-procedure results. Both abdominoplasty and liposuction are procedures with a long safety record.

If you have a small problem area with pretty good skin tone and are looking for a less invasive procedure, there are newer methods that can either freeze or dissolve the fat. Procedures that work by freezing the fat in selected areas are becoming common office procedures. Cool Sculpting machines are very popular and doctors can offer patients a non-surgical alternative when they have small problem areas. You should be well informed up front about the estimated improvement that you could expect, as well as the estimated number of sessions to get there, and of course, the costs. More often traditional liposuction may be recommended to safely and effectively remove larger areas of fat.

Tummy Tuck

tummy tuck
If fat removal alone is not the answer, and you have excess skin, an abdominoplasty should be suggested. This is where careful evaluation by a board certified plastic surgeon is critical. Many patients may have small umbilical or abdominal wall hernia, and a skilled surgeon should always access the entire abdomen before suggesting an abdominoplasty. Finally, there are some great new techniques in abdominoplasty surgery that can lead to shorter recoveries, fewer complications, and the possibility of not needing drains.

My best advice: consider what your goals are, how much you willing to spend, and how long can you realistically be off from work or family responsibilities. Then, schedule a consultation with a board certified plastic surgeon, and make sure that he or she carefully discusses the pros and cons of each of these possible procedures.

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