Love Handles - Lipo of the Flanks or Extend the Tummy Tuck Incision?

Is it possible to eliminate, or greatly reduce, "love handles" during a tummy tuck by extending the incision or is lipo still necessary?

Doctor Answers 18

How to deal with love handles?

Liposuction is typically the best method to deal with love handles during a tummy tuck or abdominoplasty. If there is excess skin or skin laxity in this area, I often recommend extending the abdominoplasty incision in order to obtain the best possible results.

El Paso Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 140 reviews

Love Handles

I use liposuction in the love handle area most of the time. The incisions are smaller and the skin shrinks very well in that region most of the time. However there are times when an extension of the incision is needed to remove loose or excess skin. Your surgeon should be able to guide you in this decision.

Douglas L. Gervais, MD
Minneapolis Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 175 reviews

Love handles or muffin top- tummy tuck of flank plasty

Excisions remove extra skin but leaves scars.  Lipo removes extra fat but not extra skin.

A thorough analysis should be made of what type of tummy tuck, how long the incision should be, whether the patient should have a tummy tuck alone, an extended tummy tuck, or a flank plasty (or a total body lift).

Often the answer is not so easy.  If the better result would also necessitate longer scars, is the improvement worth it?

An experienced plastic surgeon can guide youthrough the decision making process.

Brent Moelleken, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 177 reviews

Liposuction can enhance tummy tuck results

I routinely combine liposuction of the flanks and the lower back with a high tension abdominoplasty or tummy tuck in Los Angeles in order to create a more curvaceous look and to eliminate the "love handles".

Sean Younai, MD, FACS
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 49 reviews

How to treat love handles?

I always liposuction the waist and hip areas during abdominoplasty.

In many cases this will deal with the patient's concerns.

However, if the love handles extend around onto the back, just above the buttocks, then the operation must begin with the patient lying prone (i.e., face down). The patient is then turned to complete the abdominoplasty.

I would have to see your photos to tell what would need to be done in your case.

In rare patients who have achieved dramatic weight loss, the skin excision would have to be extended around onto the back to tighten things sufficiently. In most cases the skin in this area will shrink enough after liposuction alone.

Eric Pugash, MD
Vancouver Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 136 reviews

Liposuction Is Better For Reducing Love Handles Than A Longer Tummy Tuck Scar

In a typical tummy tuck, the fullness in the love handle area is typically beyond its reach as judged by the end of the incisions by the hips. This is why many tummy tucks include liposuction of the love handles (flanks) to make for a more complete waistline result. While a tummy tuck incision can be extended into the back area, it should only be done for the purpose of removing extra skin and avoiding dog ears. Liposuction is more effective for the love handles because it removes fat over a much broader area 

Barry L. Eppley, MD, DMD
Indianapolis Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 72 reviews

Treatment for love handle

It is difficult to answer your question without photos.  Most of times, I would perform tummy tuck and liposuction of waist/flank for "love handles."  However, if the area of love handle has a lot of excess skin, then I would extend the incision longer (extended tummy tuck) and incorporate the love handle into my tummy tuck.  

Sugene Kim, MD, FACS
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 76 reviews

Love handles, extend the tummy tuck, or suction

We feel that most feel that the tummy tuck scar is long enough, and suctioning should take care of the hip or love handle during a tummy tuck procedure unless there are special circumstances. If you have had considerable weight loss and skin laxity onto the hip an extended tummy tuck can make sense, but for most suctioning will do nicely.

Best of luck,


Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

Lipo works

I do not use an extended incision because if it is only fat, liposuction takes care of the love handles without larger incisions. This is done at the same time as the abdominoplasty.

William B. Rosenblatt, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

Love Handles & Tummy Tuck

You have mentioned the two ways of dealing with love handles for someone undergoing a tummy tuck.  A photo, as usual, would be helpful.  The key is the quality of the skin in the love handle area.  If the skin is healthy and elastic, it can probably be treated with liposuction.  On the other hand, if the skin is nonelastic and in excess, it would probably be best to extend the incision and excise it.  a board-certified plastic surgeon can discuss the advantages and disadvantages with you.

John Whitt, MD (retired)
Louisville Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 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.