Tummy Tuck Vs Liposuction for Abdomen

I am 112 pounds with thin arms and legs. My abdomen has always been large in proportion to my body, but after 3 C-sections, it is huge. I could pass for being 5-6 months pregnant. I have been told there is not a lot of fat there but the underlying tissues are very weak. Over the years I have done multiple abdominal exercises and nothing works. I am 60 years old and in good health. What do you recommend?

Doctor Answers 21

Tummy Tuck vs. Liposuction

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Do the pinch test! Pinch your upper abdominal skin. if you can pinch about 2 inches of tissue or fat that means that the majority of your abdominal fullness is subcutaneous fat. In this case you should first consider liposuction. On the other hand, if you can only pinch one inch of fat in your upper abdomen, and you still have a large protruding abdomen, then it would seem that most of this fullness is due to loosness of the abdominal wall. In this case a tummy tuck would be better.

Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.3 out of 5 stars 51 reviews

Given your description of your abdomen, I would imagine...

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Given your description of your abdomen, I would imagine a tummy tuck would be the best procedure for you. It's an operation designed to tighten the abdominal wall muscles as well as to remove any excess skin that you may have low on your abdomen. Some liposuction can be performed at the same time, but the best thing to do is to consult with a couple of Board Certified Plastic Surgeons in your area and get their opinions on what would work best for you.

Shahram Salemy, MD, FACS
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 155 reviews

Tummy tucks address skin, muscle, and fat.

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From what you describe you are suffering from a weakening in the muscle wall that is usually a result of pregnancy. Many women come in to my office desiring liposuction or even "Smartlipo" when in fact the correct procedure is a tummy tuck. An abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) is a surgical procedure which allows the surgeon to tighten the muscles of the abdominal wall (like tightening a corset,) remove the extra stretched out skin, and remove any excess fat. The tradeoff is a scar where incisions are made however most women are happy to trade this "scar for skin." Liposuction will remove fat but will not address the skin or fat. Smartlipo may cause a very small amount of skin tightening but the percentage of tightening is small and certainly muscle will not be addressed. At 60 years of age (I have done tummy tucks on many 60 year olds) in good health I would require you to have a medical clearance just based on age as this is a real operation with a real recovery. Schedule an appointment with a plastic surgeon and get some information about your options! Good luck!

Evan Sorokin, MD
Cherry Hill Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 77 reviews

From the way you describe your body, it is clear that a...

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From the way you describe your body, it is clear that a tummy tuck is the more appropriate procedure for what you want. Liposuction would do essentially nothing for you. The only way to improve your abdominal contour is to tighten the muscles and remove the extra skin as is done in a tummy tuck.

Make sure you go to an excellent plastic surgeon who does this procedure very often because you are a little older than the usual patient and need the judgement and technical expertise of an experienced surgeon to make this a safe option for you.

Tummy Tuck vs. Liposuction

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Thank you for the question. Tummy tuck and liposuction address different needs so it would help to conduct an in-person exam to give you an individualized answer. 

A tummy tuck offers the most effective way to correct loose skin and muscle separation in addition to eliminating excess fat. Liposuction will also remove fat, but it can't address flabby, hanging skin that typically persists after weight loss. For this reason, many patients who have experienced a massive weight loss or recent pregnancy tend to opt for a tummy tuck. 

The bottom line is a full tummy tuck will not only remove excess fatty tissue, but also eliminate excess skin and correct abdominal muscles that have been separated and weakened by lack of physical activity or pregnancy. 

An in-person exam with a board certified plastic surgeon is always the best way to fully assess your needs and address your concerns. Best of luck!

Michael M. Omidi, MD, FACS
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 122 reviews


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An exam or at least a photo is required for a reasonable opinion. Here is some general information.
Liposuction is less invasive and quicker to recover from than a Tummy Tuck (abdominoplasty). This is because liposuction only involves removing fat from beneath your skin. Your body will cause the overlying skin to contract only to the degree it is capable, often leaving redundant skin which can be unsightly. In other words, you need good elasticity to get a good result.
A Tummy Tuck involves removing redundant skin and tightening the underlying muscles. Sometimes liposuction is combined as needed with a Tummy Tuck for the best possible result. Your photos suggest that you probably are a candidate for a Tummy Tuck. The question is whether the shape of your abdomen is affected by an excess of fat, skin, muscle separation or laxity, or some combination thereof. This can only be determined by examination, so go ahead and consult with a board certified plastic surgeon. Some of my patients elect to have liposuction first, and then opt for a Tummy Tuck if the results are not satisfying.

Tummy Tuck vs. Liposuction

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Based on your description, the answer is probably a tummy tuck or a combination of tummy tuck and liposuction as it sounds that your primary objectives would be to tighten the abdominal wall and remove excess skin. Liposuction may help reduce the excess fat.  I would suggest a consultation with a board certified plastic surgeon who can provide you with an exam to determine more precisely the basis of your concern.

Kris M. Reddy, MD, FACS
West Palm Beach Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 56 reviews

Tummy tuck with muscle repair

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A tummy tuck has the distinct advantage over liposuction and other non-invasive fat reduction technique in that it as the ability to surgically remove loose skin and also address the laxity of the underlying abdominal muscles - often called rectus diastasis.  Based on your description, I would not settle for any other type of procedure as you need to tighten the underlying muscles to help flatten your abdominal contour and reduce the pregnant look.  The C-section scar can be used as part of the tummy tuck incision.  Also if you don't need much skin reduction, then you can also limit the size of the incision.  Good luck!

Tummy tuck versus liposuction

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If your problem were just fat below the skin alone and you were willing to accept loose skin, then liposuction would be a compromise option. It is difficult without examining you, but if some of the bulging of your abdomen is due to the intra-abdominal contents pushing out, then liposuction will likely not be a good option and a tummy tuck with muscle repair and excess skin removal would be better.

Julio Garcia, MD
Las Vegas Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 27 reviews

Tummy tuck

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It sounds as if you would a good candidate for a tummy tuck; however, a photo would be nice.  It would be a safe procedure for you.

Shahin Javaheri, MD
San Francisco Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 6 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.