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Plastic Surgery Author: Staff Editor Last Updated: Sep 7, 2017 - 10:06:33 PM

Should I Get a Tummy Tuck or Liposuction?

By Staff Editor
Feb 5, 2014 - 2:56:49 PM

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( - As you evaluate your progress toward your weight loss goals, you may consider getting a tummy tuck or liposuction to complete the process. These are both considered to be body contouring procedures that will tone and sculpt the body, but they are not intended or designed for weight loss. Here is what you need to know about both procedures before you make a choice.

Tummy Tuck

The tummy tuck is a surgical procedure that removes loose skin and fat from the abdominal area and tightens separated abdominal muscles to reveal a flat, smooth abdominal wall. The procedure can take anywhere from 2-5 hours and it can involve general or local anesthesia. The surgeon will make an incision from hip to hip at the pubic line to remove any excess skin and fat in the area. Before closing the incision, the physician will strengthen the muscles of the abdominal wall as well. Generally, most patients are able to recover within two weeks or a few months depending on the person.

This procedure is not intended for weight loss as it is actually recommended for people that have already lost weight. Most of the people that consider the tummy tuck are either people that have lost a significant amount of weight or women that have given birth. People in those situations may have worked hard to get back in shape, but they may have a lot of extra skin or stubborn fat around the abdominal area that will not go away. This is because the skin may have lost its elasticity and therefore it will not stretch back into shape after weight loss. Some older people that are slightly overweight may be considered for this procedure as well if their skin has lost much of its elasticity. Women that are planning on becoming pregnant are advised to postpone the procedure until they have finished having children. People that are still in the process of losing weight are also advised to postpone the procedure until they have completed the weight loss process.


Liposuction is a surgical procedure that is designed to remove pockets of fat from the body that have not responded to exercise and diet. For example, you may have been successful at losing weight, but you still have some extra fat on your upper arms or thighs that have not responded to your efforts.  Liposuction can be performed on various parts of the body including the neck, buttocks, thighs, upper arms, abdominal area, calves, back, and knees.

Liposuction works because it literally suctions out the fat cells and once they have been removed, they will not return to the same area again. There are different types of liposuction available, with two of the most common being Suction Assisted Lipectomy (SAL) or Ultrasonic Assisted Lipectomy (UAL). SAL is considered the traditional liposuction procedure in which the physician maneuvers a metal tube called a cannula around the body to dislodge and suction out the fat. UAL is more advanced procedure that uses ultrasonic energy to heat up the fat and transform it into liquid that will be suctioned out through the cannula.

The procedure can take between 1-5 hours to complete depending on how many areas will be targeted during the surgery. The physician will provide general or local anesthesia and then inject a special solution of saline, adrenaline, and lidocaine to reduce bleeding and swelling during the procedure. The next step is to make a small incision in the target area large enough to place the cannula into the skin. If UAL is being performed, ultrasound energy will first be applied to the area prior to removing the fat.

In order the get the most of the liposuction procedure, it is recommended that candidates should be at or near their ideal weight. This is not a weight loss procedure and, unlike the tummy tuck, it does not remove any excess skin.

Both procedures can help you look and feel better about yourself, but there are many differences between them. Liposuction is good for removing stubborn, unresponsive pockets of fat from different parts of the body while the tummy tuck is good for removing excess, sagging skin and fat in the abdominal area. It is essential that both you and your physician assess your own needs and goals before choosing a procedure.

Dr. Douglas Steinbrech is a board certified plastic surgeon based in New York City. He specializes in minimally invasive surgical techniques for plastic surgery procedures such as the breast augmentation, tummy tuck, and liposuction. He completed surgical training at New York University in plastic and reconstructive surgery and general surgery. His office is located in New York, New York. Please contact his office at 212-750-0070 to schedule an appointment to discuss your needs.


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