Is my Belly Mostly Fat or is It Just Loose Skin? Can I Fix Without Surgery at All? (photo)

I'm 5'3 and 162 pounds. Do I just need to lose weight to have a good looking belly or does the belly have loose skin that needs taken care of by surgery? I would really like to be able to get a sexy toned stomach without surgery. Is there any hope for me??

Doctor Answers 9

Lose Weight or Tummy Tuck

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Hi CarolinaMel,

It's great that you're hoping to avoid surgrery. Your BMI (Body Mass Index) calculated from your height and weight is 28.9. BMI of 25-29.9 = overweight. BMI 30 and over = obesity.

Your pictures suggest fair to good skin tone. I suggest, in consultation with your family doctor, start a diet and exercise program. Once you've reached your target weight, you can better determine whether liposuction and/or TT would be a consideration.

Thanks for your question and best of luck!

Knoxville Plastic Surgeon

Losing Weight, Lipo, or Tummy Tuck?

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

   Losing weight is definitely the cheapest option.  With your current skin tone, you may be able to avoid a tummy tuck after weight loss.  Get down to your goal weight and reassess.

Can I Fix Without Surgery at All? (

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Your best bet is to lose some weight, down toward a BMI of 20 or so, and re-evaluate. From the photo alone, I can't tell whether or not you skin has enough elasticity to expect it to shrink down with weight loss, or with liposuction for that matter. 

When down near an ideal weight, you may find that you need nothing done. But if you do need to consider liposuction or tummy tuck, you will be more likely to have an excellent outcome.

 When you ready for an in person consultation, RealSelf has listings of surgeons in your area. You should consider cross referencing the listings from the The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (plasticsurgery dot org). A listing in the ASPS website assures you that your surgeon is not only board certified,  but also is a member in good standing of the major plastic surgery organization in the U. S.

Thank you for your question, best wishes.

Jourdan Gottlieb, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon

Tummy tuck

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

I dont see you needing a tummy tuck from these photographs. You may not even need liposuction. I would continue with your plan of exercise and toning with weight loss

Norman Bakshandeh, MD, FACS
New York Plastic Surgeon

A little bit of both!

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Hello CarolinaMel. Thanks for posting your question and photos. It looks like you have a little elasticity in your skin and more fatty tissue. Perhaps liposuction is a better option than TT. Have a consult with a local PS. Best wishes, Dr. Aldo.

Aldo Guerra, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 215 reviews

Toning the Abdomen

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

From your photos, it  does not appear that you have skin excess.  You do have fat that can be improved with diet and exercise.  Areas that don't respond to this can be liposuctioned.  Hope this helps.

Peter J. Simon, MD
Fort Lauderdale Plastic Surgeon

Exercise and weight loss before deciding on tummy tuck or lipo

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

As you are aware, liposuciton is for reshaping the body by reducing localized areas of fat that don't change with diet and exercise, and tummy tucks are for loose skin and/or muscle separation in addition to any fat reduction. Skin tone does not generally improve with exercise, same for muscle separation (diastasis) after pregnancy, and you can't "spot reduce" with exercise either. So do the weight loss first then see an experienced plastic surgeon. 

Richard Baxter, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 59 reviews

Need a Tummy Tuck?

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Based on the information you provided, you should do your best to get down to a lower weight and see how things look. Start with your primary care doctor and consider a program of proper diet and exercise for 3 to 6 months with a goal of dropping 1-2 pounds per a week. If you have good skin tone and a firm abdomen, then you may not need surgery!

Karol A. Gutowski, MD, FACS
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 76 reviews

How to improve my belly?

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Thank you for your question and for providing the photos. The options for improvement of your belly relies on the elasticity of the skin, which is impossible to assess without an actual exam. If looking great without surgery is your ultimate goal, I would suggest a diet and exercise program that targets your core. This will be a gradual process, but will allow you to see how much improvement is possible without surgery.

Once you reach your target weight, your belly can be re-assessed. The tightness of the skin and the amount of remaining fat can be judged, and you can decide how much additional improvement that you want. Based on the skin elasticity, the choice between a tummy-tuck or liposuction, or possibly nothing at all, can be made.

Best of luck with your belly. There is certainly hope, and no reason to think that you can't have a great looking tummy.

Jeff Rockmore

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.