Want that bulging tummy to go away? If you have a bulge in the front of your stomach that just won’t go away, consider a cosmetic procedure of either liposuction or a tummy tuck. But which would be the best for you. Let’s review these procedures relevant to the tummy.


Liposuction involves removal of the excess fat above the muscle of your belly through small holes hidden below the bikini line. The best technique is to infiltrate the area with a mixture of lidocaine and epinephrine which constricts the vessels and pushes the blood out from the area so there is minimal blood loss during the procedure; plus it numbs the area. The cannulas move back and forth suctioning the fat out and reducing the size of the belly, while the surgeon sculptures the area to make it smooth.


If you don’t have much excess skin in the belly, liposuction may be a good option for you. After doing the liposuction, many times the minimal stretch of the skin in the belly from the excess fat will shrink and retract resulting in no skin hanging down after the liposuction. Using a flat surface as a “stent”, such as a magazine or thin cardboard, under the garment for a few weeks can help keep the skin surface flat.


Liposuction does not remove any skin from the belly. Thus, if you have excess skin that hangs down, liposuction would probably make this hang down even worse, making it a less desirable procedure for cosmetic purposes. If you have a lot of excess skin, it is obvious that liposuction may not be your best option, but a tummy tuck would work well.


However, many people are borderline. They have excess fat around their belly button but no sagging. One way to get an idea of whether you will have a good result is to look at your belly button. When you stand, does your belly button look round, or does it look like it is in the form of a frown. If the latter, you may need a tummy tuck.


A tummy tuck, also called an abdominoplasty, removes the excess skin that hangs down after liposuction of the abdomen. Usually this is performed in such a manner to put the scar below the bikini line. The scar usually goes from side to side, so it is important to hide it way below the bikini line if possible.


If you have a bulge in your belly but the bulge is from excess fat under the muscles of your belly, you need to lose weight first before deciding on the best procedure for you. Neither liposuction nor a tummy tuck can remove fat below the abdominal muscles. If you were to do either procedure, you would still have that bulge and, thus, an unacceptable result.


If you are very overweight, you should lose as much weight as possible before doing either surgery. Doing so will give you the best results. If liposuction is done, your skin will retract better giving you a smoother flatter look. If a tummy tuck, you can get a flatter and more sculptured result. If you decide you want to lose weight first, do a good weight-loss program that helps you keep the weight off long-term, such as The True Diet that we offer at our office.


The anesthesia used for the two procedures may be different. Liposuction of only the belly may be performed using only the tumescent fluid which contains lidocaine, a local anesthetic. In order to do this procedure while you’re awake, we usually give patients some mild sedation and add bicarb to the tumescent fluid to reduce the stinging while infiltrating the fluid. Once it’s in the tissues, you’re numb. Most people are amazed at how numb they are.


Recovery from liposuction is quick, and many people go back to normal activities within a few days. I have seen some women go back to doing their aerobics class the next day, but they are sore and so a few days of rest is not a bad idea.


Anesthesia for a full tummy tuck usually is a deep sedation/general anesthesia, for there is a lot of tugging and pulling that needs to occur. In addition, the muscles are pulled together in the midline, which gives you a very flat stomach, but would be uncomfortable if done while you’re awake. This is called a muscle plication and is one of the hallmarks of abdominoplasty that creates that very flat look like your sucking in your stomach, but all the time since it has been done for you.


Recovery from a tummy tuck is longer. Usually you must take it easy for one to two weeks, then gradually increase activities over the next few weeks. Many people who have sedentary jobs can drive in a week and go back to their job after just one week. Those with more physical jobs may need further time for their tummies would be too sore to do the activities. Most people are back at their normal activities within 4 to 6 weeks after the surgery.


In conclusion, there are marked differences between liposuction of the belly and a tummy tuck. Knowing which the best for you is depends on many factors. If you are interested in knowing and finding out your best option, come in for a consultation and we can discuss the right option for you.