You’ve worked hard to get to within your target body weight, but you still haven’t achieved that flat, toned belly you’ve been looking for. Though you know age-related belly fat * is a challenge for many people, especially in middle age, if the shape of your abdomen is holding you back from feeling good about yourself, that thought may not offer you much comfort. Luckily, modern cosmetic surgery techniques have given you effective options.

Tummy Tuck, or Liposuction?

An abdominoplasty and liposuction surgery are two outstanding methods that can both reshape and re-contour your abdomen. If you’re wondering how to choose between the two, the answer is that you don’t have to. A skilled cosmetic surgeon like Dr. Michael Kulick can combine the two procedures with dramatic results or suggest that you have one or the other procedures independently.

Getting liposuction alongside your tummy tuck will leave you thrilled with your new body shape, while helping you minimize your total recovery time after surgery if you had these procedures independently. By adding a liposuction to your abdominoplasty procedure, you can get the best of both techniques at the same time, without having to take added time out of your busy schedule to complete two separate healing periods.

What Are the Benefits of a Tummy Tuck?

A tummy tuck, also called an abdominoplasty surgery, is a technique in which a board-certified plastic surgeon will remove excess fat and skin from the middle and lower abdomen. Your doctor will also help tighten the fascia on top of the loose abdominal muscles, resulting in a firmer abdominal wall and often greatly slimming the belly.

Many patients choose to have a tummy tuck after childbirth after successfully losing a large amount of weight. Carrying a baby to term puts enormous stress on the abdominal muscles and stretches out the skin and the underlying fascia that holds the abdominal muscles in place. A tummy tuck can help women restore their pre-pregnancy figure after they are no longer planning to have additional children. Also, for people who have lost a significant amount of weight, a tummy tuck can remove excess skin and reshape your body.

What Are the Benefits of Liposuction?

Liposuction is a technique in which a qualified surgeon gently suctions out specific fat deposits through small incisions in the skin, reshaping “trouble areas” of the body. It’s important to note that this procedure does not replace regular diet and exercise, but is instead a complementary procedure that can remove stubborn fat pockets that are unresponsive to traditional weight loss techniques. Trained cosmetic surgeons can perform liposuction on various parts of the body, including the hips, abdomen, thighs and many other areas.

Why Combine an Abdominoplasty and Liposuction?

Liposuction and tummy tuck make a dynamic duo for many patients. In a study published in 2012 ** by the American Society for Plastic Surgeons, 98 percent of patients who chose to combine the two procedures said they would do so again, and 99 percent said they would suggest both surgeries to others. The patient satisfaction rate for both procedures combined was more than 99 percent, far higher than either procedure on its own.

Pairing the two procedures allows patients to obtain the benefits of both,combining a tummy tuck with liposuctions while reducing the required pain and recovery time that would ensue if both procedures were performed separately. Recovery time is also similar for a stand-alone tummy tuck and a tummy tuck paired with liposuction. The same 2012 ASPS study also found patients reported no increase in discomfort after combining a tummy tuck with liposuction.

What Are the Possible Complications?

Although there are side effects associated with any surgery, each procedure poses slightly different risks you should be aware of. However, you can drastically minimize your risks if you follow all your postsurgical instructions diligently.

Potential Liposuction Risks

With liposuction, your risk of complications increases if your surgeon is working on a large area. Combining a tummy tuck with liposuction may also increase your risk of the following:

  • Numbness – You may feel numbness in the affected area. Although this is often temporary, it may become permanent.
  • Contour irregularities – Sometimes, removing fat with liposuction causes the top layer of your skin to appear less smooth.
  • Fluid accumulation – Temporary pockets of fluid may form under the skin. Your doctor will need to drain these.
  • Infection – Your liposuction incisions may become infected.

Potential Tummy Tuck Risks

Possible risks that accompany tummy tuck surgery include:

  • Changes in sensation – Repositioning your abdominal tissue may affect the superficial sensory nerves in this area. As a result, you may feel numbness.
  • Fluid accumulation – As with liposuction, temporary pockets of fluid may form under the skin, which your doctor will need to drain.
  • Tissue death – In rare cases, fatty tissue deep within the abdominal area may get damaged. Your surgeon will need to remove tissue that dies or fails to heal fully.

Abdominoplasty and Liposuction Surgery in San Francisco

If you are considering combining a tummy tuck with liposuction, take the next step and contact Dr. Kulick’s San Francisco office to schedule a consultation. After evaluating your health and discussing your goals, he can help you determine if pairing these two procedures is the best choice for you.

* Harvard Health Publishing, October 2015

** American Society of Plastic Surgeons, March 2012