TUMMY TUCK OR LIPOSUCTION: WHICH IS BEST?
Deciding between a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) and liposuction can be difficult for many St. Louis residents who have tried in earnest to diet and exercise, but with mixed results: although pleased with their lighter, fitter selves, some struggle with stomach bulges, loose abdominal skin, and trouble spots that seem resistant to their hard work and good intentions. Tummy tuck or liposuction can help these patients by tightening and sculpting their torso and giving them more attractive abdominal contours.
Sometimes the focus should not be tummy tuck or liposuction, but tummy tuck and liposuction, as many patients achieve optimal results when combining the two procedures. These kinds of results, however, depend primarily on the training and expertise of the surgeon performing the procedures. That is why patients should always seek the consultation of a plastic surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. At West County Plastic Surgeons, board-certified plastic surgeons Dr. Terry Myckatyn and Dr. Marissa Tenenbaum specialize in tummy tuck and liposuction, so they have the education and experience to thoroughly explain the benefits and drawbacks of each procedure. They would be happy to work with you to decide which approach would help you reach your personal goals.
Liposuction or Tummy Tuck: How St. Louis Residents Determine Which Is Best
At West County Plastic Surgeons, many of our patients wonder whether they should have abdominoplasty surgery, also known as tummy tuck, or liposuction to help them achieve a flatter, more youthful-looking stomach. Although we wish there were one simple answer to this question, the truth is that each person is different, so the answers will be too. To select the correct procedure, we must first determine the cause of the problem:
- Pregnancy: If the cause is pregnancy or multiple pregnancies, we typically recommend abdominoplasty surgery. Why? Pregnancy stretches the abdominal muscles, often leading to a condition called diastasis recti, which simply means that the pressure from the growing fetus forces the vertical rectus abdominis muscles to separate. This stretching and separation can eventually lead to what many mothers refer to as their “pooch” because the muscles never return to their original, pre-pregnancy condition. The rapidly expanding uterus also stretches the abdominal skin. As a result, many women discover after childbirth that, like the stomach muscles, the skin does not return to its former state, leading to a sagging stomach and stretch marks. Diet and exercise cannot correct these issues; however, a tummy tuck can effectively tighten underlying muscles and remove redundant, sagging skin and excess fat.
- Significant Weight Loss: Much of the same applies to patients who have gained and lost a significant amount of weight. Although their abdominal muscles have not overextended as they might have during pregnancy, rapid or excess weight gain can stretch the skin. Once the weight is lost, the skin does not retract and return to normal. Like pregnancy, significant weight loss, especially in older patients, can cause sagging, redundant skin and stretch marks. For these patients, we typically recommend tummy tuck surgery to tighten muscles, if needed, and reduce unwanted skin, residual fat, and stretch marks.
- Genetic Predisposition: If the area resistant to diet and exercise is not caused from pregnancy or rapid weight loss, it could be due to a genetic predisposition to accumulate fatty deposits in a specific area. This often occurs in patients who are physically active and weight-height proportionate, but who have isolated pockets of fat above the hip area (muffin top), sides (love handles), or around the navel (beer belly). For these patients, we typically recommend liposuction to remove the unwanted fat in areas that are resistant to diet and exercise.
- Multiple Causes: Finally, some patients have multiple causes, so they often benefit enormously from a combined approach: abdominoplasty tightens muscles, removes extraneous skin and fat, and eliminates most stretch marks; liposuction takes care of pockets of fat on the sides or the back. The overall result is a toned, well-contoured torso from all angles.
Safety and Risks of Abdominoplasty or Liposuction
It is important to remember that each procedure, tummy tuck or liposuction, carries risks. That is why patients should consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon before making any decisions about tummy tuck or liposuction. During your consultation at West County Plastic Surgeons, Dr. Terry Myckatyn and Dr. Marissa Tenenbaum will thoroughly explain the benefits and risks of each procedure so that you can make an informed decision about what is best for you.
It is also important to remember that these procedures are not alternatives to weight loss, but they can complement it very well. If obese patients request tummy tuck or liposuction, we usually require that they lose weight and commit to healthy behaviors (eating well, exercising regularly, stopping smoking, etc.) far in advance of their procedure.
If you would like to engage in an informative discussion about tummy tuck or liposuction with a board-certified expert in the field, contact West County Plastic Surgeons today. We would be happy to answer any questions you might have and help you understand which procedure would give you the best results. To schedule a consultation, contact our St. Louis office by phoning 314-996-8800, requesting your consultation online, or emailing us