I want to lose weight before my surgery. How Can a Physician Tell the Difference Between Fat and Loose Skin for a Tummy Tuck?

I am going for my consult on Friday and was wanting to schedule my surgery in 2-3 months in order for me to lose the last 10lbs of baby weight. Is it possible to lose the belly fat or is it just skin? How can you tell the difference?

Doctor Answers 13

Skin vs fat on the abdomen

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An experienced plastic surgeon can easily tell what surgery you need depending on what the problem is ie. skin vs fat vs muscle laxity or a combination.

What you don't want to do is go to a non-plastic surgeon pushing a treatment like laser liposuction who will tell you that is all you need without even considering your skin/fat/muscle issues!!!

Difference of excess fat and loose tummy skin

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one of the first things that I check when evaluating a patient for a tummy tuck is to asses how much abdominal subcutaneous fat they have. I also, determine how much loose and hanging abdominal skin they have. when the predominant issue with the abdomen is excess skin folds then the correct procedure is a tummy tuck. on the other hand if there is mostly excess fat over the abdomen, then liposuction would be preferable.

Sean Younai, MD, FACS
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 51 reviews

Tummy Tuck or Liposuction?

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An experienced plastic surgeon can easily determine if you have excess skin, excess fat, or both during your consultation. If you have good quality skin and only excess fat, it can be treated with liposuction alone. If you have excess skin with or without excess fat, then an abdominoplasty or tummy tuck is necessary. The only way to remove stretch marks is with an abdominoplasty.

Reach ideal stable weight before surgery

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A physician is able to tell the difference between fat and skin during a physical examination. Usually, it can be as easy as simply pinching the area and seeing how much can be gathered between the fingers. If it's a substantial amount, then there's usually excess fat . 

Judging from your photo, you appear to have more than excess fat and skin, however. You may have diastasis recti, a common problem following pregnancy. This is a separation of the abdominal muscles and can only be corrected with surgery. And as you mentioned, you should reach your stable, ideal weight before pursuing surgery. Best of luck!

See a board certified plastic surgeon.

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A board certified plastic surgeon will be able to tell of you have excess skin or belly fat during a consultation.

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 86 reviews

Belly Fat can go away following pregnancy

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Belly Fat can go away. If you have had more than one Pregnancy then you may have had too much Stretching of your abdominal skin. If that is true for you then A tummy tuck be the right answer for you. If the sskn is not too loose and has good elasticity then liposuction is the right way to go. You should for your examination by your plastic surgeon to help you decide.

Fred Aguilar, III, MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon

Belly Fat versus Loose Skin

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Thank you for submitting your photograph.  

It appears that you have loose skin with stretch marks and abdominal wall laxity.   Neither of these will significantly improve with liposuction.   Therefore, I would recommend a tummy tuck once you reach your goal weight.   This will accomplish three things: removal of your stretch marks, removal of loose skin, and correction of abdominal wall laxity.   

You seem to be a wonderful candidate and can expect a great result from your tummy tuck procedure.  Best of luck in a safe and healthy recovery!!

Paul S. Gill, MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 94 reviews

Fat vs Loose Skin For Tummy Tuck

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It appears that you are a good candidate for a tummy tuck.  Any board-certified plastic surgeon should be able to tell you the proportion of your problem due to fat and to excess skin.  Certainly the ideal candidate for a tummy tuck has mainly excess skin rather than excess fat.

John Whitt, MD (retired)
Louisville Plastic Surgeon

Tummy tuck evaluation

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Based on examination, plastic surgeons can tell you whether you have excess skin and/or excess fat.  Often times after pregnancy and a large weight fluctuation, one is left with excess skin that needs to be removed.  Tummy tuck is a body contouring procedure where excess skin and fat from lower abdomen are removed and muscle is brought back together.  If you have a loose skin, you will most likely need a tummy tuck.  

Tummy tuck vs. liposuction

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An exam would help determine if there is loose skin or just fatty tissue that can be treated.  If you have loose skin you probably would need a tummy tuck.

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