If you’re man or woman in the La Jolla area and have struggled with improving your abdomen and waist, you might be considering plastic surgery to help you slim down. You’ve heard of liposuction and tummy tuck, but how do you know which procedure is right for you and what the difference is between the two?
All About Liposuction
Liposuction is one of the most popular procedures in the field of plastic surgery and I frequently perform this relatively simple surgery for La Jolla men and women. Even with a healthy lifestyle, it is common to struggle with areas of fat that we are genetically predisposed to and that persists even with a good diet and exercise regimen. Liposuction is a solution for these patients and can safely remove up to 6 liters of fat. This is not enough to be considered a weight loss procedure, but definitely enough to make a noticeable difference.
I favor the tumescent technique which involves infiltrating the areas to be treated with a mixture of local anesthetic, epinephrine, and saline to facilitate easier fat removal and a reduction in post-operative bruising and swelling. Liposuction is then performed by making a small very small incision in an inconspicuous location near the problem area, then using a small instrument called a cannula to suction out the fat.
The key to determining who is a candidate for liposuction has to do with skin quality. If your skin is still fairly elastic and not attenuated, you would do very will with liposuction and your skin will redrape nicely to the new, more streamlined contour. If, on the other hand, your skin is loose and crepey, as is the case sometimes after pregnancy and/or dramatic weight loss, you would be better suited for an abdominoplasty.
Tummy Tuck 101
An abdominoplasty or tummy tuck is a more involved surgery than liposuction and it serves a completely different purpose. Candidates for a tummy tuck are those who have excess, loose abdominal skin and fat as well as abdominal muscle separation which occurs after pregnancy or dramatic weight loss. This muscle separation contributes to a widened waist and a boxier shape which are greatly improved after surgery. Many patients come in to see me complaining of a “pooch” in the lower abdominal area and oftentimes this fullness is not attributable to excess fat, but to separated abdominal muscles.
Abdominoplasty patients can expect an incision from hip to hip. This incision is kept very low, often below the bikini line. The muscles are tightened and excess skin and fat are removed. An added benefit that many patients remark on is a reduction in lower back pain after core strength is restored when the abdominal muscles are repaired.
Recovery Differences Between Liposuction and a Tummy Tuck
Liposuction is a relatively simple plastic surgery procedure with a quick recovery. Utilizing the tumescent approach and using a very small 2 millimeter cannula, my La Jolla patients can expect to take a few days to a week off work. Compression garments are worn for the first two weeks and you will be instructed to refrain from heavy lifting or rigorous exercise for about 1 to 2 weeks.
A tummy tuck requires a longer recovery time. I advise my tummy tuck patients to take 2 to 3 weeks off from work and to have help with their young children for about a week. Exercise should be avoided for about 4 to 6 weeks and resume slowly thereafter.
Choosing the Right Procedure for You
You may think that you know exactly what type of these two surgeries you need, but only an in-person consultation and exam with an experienced plastic surgeon can definitively determine whether liposuction or a tummy tuck is the right procedure for you.
If you have excess abdominal skin and fat, and are ready to make a change, call my office in La Jolla at (858) 450-1776 to schedule a consultation during which we can discuss your options further.