Liposuction vs. Tummy Tuck: What’s the Difference?

liposuction patient

When your body just won’t cooperate with your diet and exercise efforts, it may be time to consider plastic surgery to get the outcome you want. The midsection is often one of the hardest areas to whittle down, which is why Dr. Lowenstein frequently performs tummy tucks and liposuction in Santa Barbara at Montecito Plastic Surgery for his patients. Both these procedures are effective in trimming, toning and sculpting those problem areas around the abdomen. But how do you know which one is the right choice for you?

Identifying Your Concerns

The first step in determining whether a tummy tuck or liposuction will meet your needs best, you need to recognize what those needs are. Liposuction works best on the following:

  • Small, isolated areas of fat around the midsection or other areas of the body
  • Stubborn bulges you have not been able to eliminate by your own efforts
  • Lack of tone and sculpting in the abdominal area

Liposuction will not address skin laxity around the middle. In fact, if loose skin is a problem, such as skin folds that can occur after weight loss, use of liposuction could make the laxity more noticeable. Liposuction only targets the submental fat and will not tighten underlying muscles or reposition tissue.

A tummy tuck offers additional benefits beyond fat removal. This surgery can address these issues:

  • A stubborn pooch in the midsection that won’t reduce with exercise
  • Loose skin due to pregnancy or weight loss
  • Abdominal muscles that have pulled apart
  • Tissue that needs to be repositioned to create a natural look

During a tummy tuck, Dr. Lowenstein can also relocate the belly button to create a look that is both natural and aesthetically pleasing. This procedure offers the most dramatic results but also requires a longer recovery process than liposuction.

Understanding the Procedures

There are significant differences between a tummy tuck and liposuction in Santa Barbara regarding what how the procedure is performed and what you can expect from the recovery process. When you understand each of the procedures, you will know what to expect from your treatment.

Liposuction

Dr. Lowenstein offers VASER liposuction, which uses ultrasonic technology to make the fat removal process more precise and comfortable. VASER liposuction is typically performed using local anesthesia and tiny incisions that allow for the insertion of a narrow tube that delivers the ultrasonic energy and then removes the treated fat cells from the body. Incisions are too small to leave much noticeable scarring after the procedure.

You will be able to go home immediately following your procedure. We advise patients to wait to shower until the next day and resume regular activities as they feel ready. Most patients can go back to work within two to three days and return to their workout routines within two weeks. Results will fully develop in the three to six months following the procedure.

Tummy Tuck

A tummy tuck or abdominoplasty targets the midsection, removing excess skin, tissue and fat to create a smoother, flatter contour. Dr. Lowenstein performs this surgery under general anesthesia, using an incision that extends from hipbone to hipbone just underneath the panty line. Through the incision, Dr. Lowenstein can also tighten up abdominal muscles that have loosened through weight gain or pregnancy, for benefits that go beyond the cosmetic, into functionally improving problems like back pain or urinary incontinence. If necessary, the belly button can also be moved to a more natural position on the stomach area.

Tummy tucks are extensive surgical procedures that require a few weeks for recovery. Long-lasting pain medication is administered to keep patients comfortable during the early days of recovery, and a compression garment is used for several weeks to minimize swelling and promote healing. Patients may be able to return to work within about two weeks if their job is not strenuous. Physical activity beyond gentle walking is usually discouraged for at least three weeks to keep the midsection ample time to heal. Incision care is highly critical after this procedure to ensure the incision heals well and leaves the best scar possible. It typically takes a full year for the scar to entirely fade and for your final results to become evident.

Making the Right Choice

Patients looking for significant correction around the midsection and can take off sufficient time from work for the recovery process will typically find a tummy tuck to be their optimal choice in treatments. For those that have smaller, focalized bulges and rolls, liposuction may offer a less invasive solution. In some cases, Dr. Lowenstein may suggest combining the two procedures to excise loose skin, remove stubborn fat and provide the precise sculpting you want. These procedures can be done simultaneously to produce the most dramatic results without additional anesthesia or recovery time.

If you are interested in body contouring, now is the time to schedule your consultation with Dr. Lowenstein. He will carefully listen to your concerns and discuss your options before recommending the best treatment plan for you. Contact Montecito Plastic Surgery today at 805-969-9004.

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