Many patients come to my office seeking an improvement in their tummy shape. The patients include women post- pregnancy, women or men after a substantial weight loss, or patients with that extra fullness around the middle. For some patients, a tummy tuck is clearly indicated. For other patients, liposuction is the procedure of choice. For others in a “gray” area, a tummy tuck may give the better result, but liposuction would also make a significant improvement. As a board -certified plastic surgeon with over twenty years of plastic surgery experience, I can review various options for body contouring, and offer my patients a complete array of procedures to provide them with the best possible result.
As women are well aware, pregnancy can leave lasting effects on the tummy, including stretched out skin and muscle. Skin can be loose and even hanging, and can interfere with activity and proper fitting of clothes. Substantial weight loss may cause similar effects on the body. For patients with such significant skin and muscle laxity, a tummy tuck is the best option to achieve the most optimal shape. Liposuction alone would not address substantial skin and muscle laxity and may even make the loose skin look more pronounced. A tummy tuck removes extra skin and fat, tightens the loose muscle, and pulls the skin tighter. Scars are placed low to be hidden by underwear or bikini. The surgery is performed as an outpatient procedure, in which case the patient goes home the same day. Patients can usually return to work within one to two weeks, and resume full exercise activity within four to six weeks.
For patients at a relatively good weight with nice abdominal skin tone but with disproportionate areas of extra fat, liposuction alone can be very effective, and can even be the treatment of choice. Local anesthesia is injected into the fat and the extra fat is suctioned using a thin tube called a cannula. This procedure is also done as an outpatient procedure, and can be performed either under local or sedation anesthesia, using tiny hidden incisions. For the past several years I have been using the SmartLipo laser liposuction technique, where a laser device is first used during the procedure to treat the fat. The laser helps to soften and melt the fat, making it easier to then suction. It also works under the surface of the skin, to get some skin tightening. My patients having tummy liposuction often have one or more other areas treated at the same time, including flanks (“love handles”), thighs, knees, arms, back, and neck. The recovery time after liposuction is fairly quick, with most patients returning to work within two to three days, and resuming full activities in less than a week.
There are patients with extra tummy fat and some abdominal skin laxity who prefer the less invasive liposuction procedure. Although a tummy tuck may give a more optimal tummy shape, these patients do not want the more extensive surgery and recovery time of a tummy tuck. As long as the patient’s skin laxity is only moderate, they can still get substantial improvement with liposuction alone, particularly using the SmartLipo laser liposuction to get some skin tightening in addition to the liposuction fat removal. For some patients who have borderline indications for a tummy tuck, a less invasive mini-tummy tuck procedure may be indicated, and can be combined with liposuction. During the initial consultation, I can evaluate my patients and discuss expectations of a tummy tuck, min-tummy tuck, and liposuction. I can then offer them the exact procedure to help them realistically achieve their body contouring goals.
Dr. Arnold Breitbart is a board-certified plastic surgeon, certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, and specializes in cosmetic surgery of the body, breast, and face. He has practices in both Manhasset and Manhattan. For more information, call Dr. Breitbart's offices at 516-365-3511.