Liposuction and tummy tuck are surgical procedures that remove excess, stubborn fat and improve the look of the abdomen. Liposuction is a body contouring procedure and can only be used to reduce the total volume of fat as it does not address excess skin or the abdominal muscles. A tummy tuck also removes loose skin and tightens the abdominal muscles. The medical term for a tummy tuck is “abdominoplasty”. While these procedures provide some skin tightening results, they differ in how they are performed.
Liposuction procedures are generally classified as wet liposuction or dry liposuction. During wet liposuction, a tumescent fluid that contains saline, lidocaine and epinephrine is injected into the fatty tissue to numb the area and to also help break down fat cells for easier removal. The surgeon makes several small incisions in order to insert a cannula into the targeted area. The excess fatty tissue is suctioned from the body using a vacuum-like device connected to a cannula. The doctor then uses a surgical dressing or tape to cover the incisions.
Dry liposuction is performed in a similar manner but the doctor does not inject the patient with a tumescent fluid. The surgeon moves the cannula in a “back and forth” motion in order to break apart the fat cells. Most doctors use the wet liposuction technique and do not perform the dry liposuction technique as much anymore.
Vaser Lipo and laser liposuction are performed using tumescent fluid as well as heat from a laser device that will liquefy the fat cells for easy removal. Both techniques heat the fat from below the dermis. Vaser Lipo provides more of an even distribution of the laser heat than laser liposuction. Traditional liposuction provides some tightening of the skin through the stimulation of collagen while the heat from Vaser Lipo and laser liposuction constricts the skin for a smoother contour.
A tummy tuck begins with the surgeon making an incision from hip to hip below the bikini line. The skin on the abdomen is lifted so the fat can be excised or removed using liposuction. The abdominal muscles are then tightened with sutures.
If the surgeon needs to remove excess skin on the upper abdomen, an incision is made around the naval to release the skin from the umbilicus. The upper abdomen skin is pulled down and the excess skin is trimmed including the belly button hole. The remaining skin is sutured together and the surgeon also makes a new opening for the belly button.
The cost of liposuction is anywhere in the range of $2000 to $3500 per treatment area while the cost of a tummy tuck runs anywhere from $3000 to $12,000 depending on the extent of the procedure These prices do not include anesthesia fees or surgeon and facility fees. The cost also varies by the geographic location of the procedure and the experience of the surgeon.
After liposuction is performed, the patient should see some immediate results even with the swelling that can obscure the surgical results. The skin might have a loose appearance and it takes some time for the skin to contract to its new shape. The results can be seen in about six months when the skin returns to normal.
Tummy tuck results will not be immediately visible due to swelling and the fact that the patient will not be able to stand-up straight for a week or two. The final results may not be seen for three to six months. Scarring from a tummy tuck can take up to a year to fade and most of the scarring is hidden below the swimsuit line.
The results of both procedures are long lasting but can be impacted by significant weight fluctuations or pregnancy. Any fat that is removed during either procedure cannot come back. The fat cells that are in the surrounding area where the surgery was performed can grow and cause the results to disappear if the patient does not maintain a healthy weight.
Common risks involved with either surgical procedure include:
Patients who are considering undergoing either procedure should consult with a board-certified surgeon that specializes in performing liposuction or a tummy tuck. The surgeon will examine the patient and also discuss their goals when it comes to gaining a better shape and contour to the body. The surgeon will then determine which procedure will provide the best results based on the goals of the patient, their overall health and the current condition of the body. Once the doctor and the patient are on the same page, the liposuction surgery or tummy tuck procedure can be scheduled.