Tummy Tuck Vs Smartlipo or Other Procedure?

I'm 37 years old and have 2 kids, the youngest one is 4. I'm very short, 4' 11" and weight about 115lbs. I've been working out and watching my diet but the stubborn belly fat won't go away. I've lost some of it but there's still plenty to go. Adding to the whole picture is the number of stretch marks i have. being so short and having an 8.5 lb baby left me with horrible scars. I want to know if smart lipo could be a good option for me. if possible i want to avoid a long recovery and the expense. thanks

Doctor Answers 11


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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. 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 Smartlipo or Other Procedure?

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Thank you for the question. The tummy tuck and abdominoplasty terms refer to the same operation. Generally, this operation involves removal of excess skin/adipose tissue of the lower abdominal wall and re approximation of the abdominal wall muscles that may have spread with pregnancies and/or weight gain/loss. Liposuctioning is often used as a tool during the procedure.

Generally speaking, the “ideal” patient for tummy tuck surgery is one who has completed pregnancies, is psycho socially/emotionally/financially stable, has an excellent social support system surrounding him/her, is capable of arranging enough recovery time, does not smoke and who has reached a long-term stable weight.

Liposuction surgery, on the other hand, refers to an operation that essentially suctions out adipose tissue. The operation does not involve any skin removal or re approximation of abdominal wall muscles. The best candidates for liposuction surgery of the abdominal wall are patients with good quality skin elasticity and a moderate degree of diet and exercise resistant adipose tissue superficial to the abdominal wall muscle layer. Patients who are significantly overweight, have significant abdominal wall laxity, and/or have lost a significant amount of skin elasticity are not generally good candidates.

My best suggestion: seek consultation with board-certified plastic surgeons who can demonstrate significant experience helping you achieve the type of outcome you will be pleased with. You may find the attached link, dedicated to tummy tuck surgery concerns, helpful to you as you learn more. Best wishes.


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If you have loose skin and stretch marks, a tummy tuck is likely the procedure you would need. It is impossible to say without photos.Lipo, smart or otherwise,  probably would give you one slight improvement.  The benefits of lipo include lower cost and easier recovery with tiny scars but in a case that sounds like yours, the tummy tuck will give the better result.

Ronald J. Edelson, MD
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

Smart Lipo vs. Tummy Tuck

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Smart Lipo will do very little to improve stretch marks.   In addition, it will not treat a significant amount of skin laxity.

I have seen several patients after smart lipo who were unhappy with their end result.   Most of these procedures were performed by non-plastic surgeons who were not trained in performing tummy tuck procedures.  Essentially all they have is a hammer, so each patient is the nail...  I would caution you against seeking out liposuction surgery from non-board certified plastic surgeons for this reason.

I recommend that you undergo evaluation by 3 board certified plastic surgeon, who both perform and do not perform smart lipo, such that you make the most educated decision.

I wish you a safe recovery and amazing result!!

Dr. Gill

Paul S. Gill, MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon

Liposuction does not get rid of stretch marks.

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Thank you for your question.

Liposuction does not get rid of stretch marks.

To be sure, see two or more board-certified plastic surgeons in your area for a full and complete evaluation to make sure you are a good candidate and that it is safe for you to have surgery.  I hope this helps.

J. Jason Wendel, MD, FACS
Nashville Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 214 reviews

Smart lipo not an alternative to tummy tuck

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A tummy tuck is still the gold standard for treating loose skin in the abdomen after pregnancy. Additionally, any localized fat can be removed and muscle separation repaired if needed. None of these 3 things respond to exercise, Lipo will remove localized fat effectively but the laser assist as with "smart lipo" does not add enough tightening to be a true alternative to a tummy tuck. The use of the laser does however increase the risk of scarring and can make the tummy tuck problematic to do later.

Richard Baxter, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 56 reviews

Smart lipo will not help you.

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Laser-assisted lipo is liposuction of the fat with laser energy used to break up the fat and also cause controlled burn to the skin from the underneath to cause the skin to shrink.  However, laser liposuction does not shrink the skin evenly and can cause wrinkling and dimpling from burns to the skin.  I have seen a number of patients done elsewhere who have scar tissue and dents from laser lipo.  A tummy tuck is the procedure that will dramatically improve your look.  It reverses the permanent changes that occurred during your pregnancy including loosening of the rectus (6-pack) muscles and loose skin and stretch marks.  A tummy tuck may require a longer recovery and more expense up front but ultimately, if you get laser lipo, you will end up spending more money to get a tummy tuck.

Richard H. Lee, MD
Newport Beach Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

Tummy Tuck Vs Smartlipo or Other Procedure?

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Tummy tucks are performed to remove loose skin from the tummy and also often to tighten the stretched muscles and fascia of the abdominal wall (diastasis recti).  Liposuction is performed to remove excess thickness of fatty tissue, but this does not tighten the skin...if the skin tone is good, it should retract, if the skin tone is poor the skin may get looser. 

There is no benefit to SmartLipo compared to standard liposuction.  SmartLipo is a franchise most commonly purchased by physicians NOT certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery as a marketing tool.  You should make sure that your plastic surgeon IS certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and experienced at performing both tummy tucks and liposuction so that they can give you the best advice as to which procedure or combination of procedures is best for you.  If you go to a non-plastic surgeon who only does liposuction, guess which procedure they will recommend to you?


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From your quick history of having 2 children it’s hard to say that smartlipo or any liposuction would give you the results you are looking for. Without a picture or an exam it’s hard to be exact. A tummy tuck repairs the muscle that has been damage by giving birth to 2 children. Again without a picture we can’t say if it’s only fat or muscle damage.


Stuart B. Kincaid, MD, FACS (in memoriam)
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon

Tummy tuck versus liposuction

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Photographs would be necessary to address your specific case. However, if the issue is fat in the midline, liposuction would help BUT if your stretch marks are accompanied by stretched, excess skin, then liposuction would not produce a satisfactory result, regardless of the method used. When excess skin is removed in a tummy tuck, some of the stretch marks/scars will be resected and the others flattened out. See a board certified plastic surgeon to explore your options.

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.