Exercise or Liposuction? (photo)

Hi: I'm considering Liposuction on my abs and flanks but I'm not quite sold on whether or not I could be achieving the same or better results by working out rigorously. I don't really like the idea of having a swollen body for the whole summer, and incision scars for the rest of my life. Any advice on what decision I should make would be very much appreciated!

Doctor Answers 15

Liposuction or exercise?

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As an avid exerciser, I congratulate you on considering this as an option. In my view, liposuction is not a substitute for an active lifestyle and diet. You said that when you would vigorously exercise which tells me that you are not doing this right now. If you are exercising and are not seeing any improvement, then you should look at what you are eating and consider changing your diet. If you are exercising and eating properly and still aren't seeing improvement in your stomach and love handles, then liposuction is a valid option. The concern of prolonged swelling is really not a problem when done properly. The scars are pretty small and can be placed strategically so not to show much. Even the very fittest people sometimes cannot get the areas of concern to go away and liposuction is a reasonable consideration. In fact, these are my favorite cases in that they typically get fantastic results.  It can be done with tumescent technique and sedation or general anesthesia. I am pleased with my Smart Lipo Triplex system for this. All the best with your plans. 

Liposuction or exercise

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It is really a choice that you have to make.  From your photos you look like a good candidate for liposuction and could potentially see nice results.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Exercise or liposuction for a good shape

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Thank you for your question about liposuction to improve your abs and flanks.

  • Liposuction will improve your shape quickly. I have excellent results and happy patients with standard Microaire liposuction
  • If you wear the compression garment for 6 full weeks, you should look great for the summer. 
  • Liposuction incisions are very small and rarely noticeable.
  • In an ideal world - we'd all be super-fit and if you have time to exercise instead of or in addition to liposuction - go for it! Good luck.

Liposuction vs exercise

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Marcus-  Thanks for the questions and photos.  If your procedure is done in the next month or so, you should easily see results and not be swollen in the summertime.  I would suggest Smart Lipo Triplex, as it can be done under a local anesthetic and the downtime is less than tradional liposuction.  I have had several male patients that have worked out vigorously and were never able to get rid of the love handles and "beer belly."  Liposuction helped them achieve their goals.

ExerciseNot Liposuction Is Your Best Option

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Thank you for your question. You are young and fit and have very little excess abdominal fat. Vigorous exercise with abdominal strengthening and careful attention to your diet as well as aerobic exercise should enable you to sculpt your abdomen.

If after 6 months to a year there is some residual fat that you cannot remove you may consider liposuction. The new laser liposuction technique with tiny laser fibers and small cannulae would be my choice for sculpting your abdomen if you choose to go that route.

Until You're Absolutely Sure, Exercise is Probably Better

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Thank you for the pictures. Are you currently exercising rigorously? It is hard to tell whether you would benefit from liposuction because I don't know the amount of exercise you do at the moment, and if you are complementing your regimen with a calorie-wise diet that allows you to burn more calories than you consume. If you have been going at it for a while and have not noticed any improvement, then liposuction is definitely an option for you. You most likely won't be swollen if you have the procedure performed soon and if you follow your surgeon's care instructions.


However, I would recommend you try the exercise route first, since it seems that you are not quite sure about liposuction yet. Until you're absolutely sure, exercise for you is a better option.

Exercise or Liposuction

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  As a bodybuilder I can tell you that by continuing to diet down and increase energy expenditure you can achieve a reduction in overall body fat.  However, if you are not having any success after long term efforts, liposuction can be a useful adjunct.  You only need 2 tiny incisions below your pants line to perform liposuction of the abdomen and flanks.   If you decide to go ahead with the liposuction, find the board certified plastic surgeon with ELITE credentials who performs hundreds of liposuction procedures each year.  Kenneth Hughes, MD Los Angeles, CA

Exercise results vs. liposuction

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Liposuction is not a substitute for eating healthy and exercising.  It can however, accentuate all of the hard work you put in to looking your best.  If your weight is stable and you are not seeing further progress even with diet and exercise, liposuction may be a good option to help you achieve the look you want.  

Mennen T. Gallas, MD
Katy Plastic Surgeon

Working out vs surgery

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This should not be an "either/or" type of question- exercise is the most important modality in question because it benefits your health in addition to your shape.  Liposuction can help in your contour and should be considered if the few persistent areas of fat don't improve with exercise.  Another excellent option for you is non-invasive CoolSculpting which is made for patients like you who want to improve local areas of fat but don't want significant swelling and down- time and don't want to take off from their activity schedule.  Check that out before making your decisions.

Exercise or liposuction?

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I usually recommend a healthy lifestyle, exercise and weight loss first, prior to any consideration for body contouring.  Certainly, you would want to get down to or near your ideal weight in order to obtain the best results.  This lifestyle should consider after your surgical procedure in order to maintain the benefits obtained from this modality.  

I would try diet and exercise first, if you haven't done so already.  However, looking at your photos, it appears that you would be a good candidate for liposuction of your stated areas, as those aforementioned areas can be difficult to get rid of.  An evaluation by a plastic surgeon may help you decide what option(s) you may have to help you achieve your desires.  Hope that this helps!

Good luck!

Lewis Albert Andres, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.