Wanting an attractive tummy is a popular request at our office. But many people are unsure about the differences between tummy tuck and liposuction. The two operations are quite different. Let me explain…
To start, we have to evaluate four different layers of the abdomen, and how they each contribute to the appearance of your abdomen. These are:
– the skin,
– the thickness and distribution of the subcutaneous fat,
– the abdominal wall,
– internal (“visceral” ) fat.
Then, we recommend the most appropriate surgical option.
Liposuction, for example, works very well to reduce the thickness of subcutaneous fat. And that’s about it, in our 4 layer model. Liposuction is powerless to fix muscle wall problems, to treat visceral fat, or tighten skin. So – liposuction is the wrong tool to use if we find that the patient has any of these three issues.
A tummy tuck, works well to tighten loose abdominal skin. At the same time, muscle tightening is commonly done to repair “rectus diastasis”, separation of the abdominal wall muscles. But the tummy tuck is powerless to treat internal (visceral) fat.
Visceral fat – that stubborn internal fat that gives us the “apple” or “beer-belly” shape – is the bad stuff. It’s linked to diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and strokes. We can’t get rid of it surgically. The only existing treatment is the hard work of low-fat diet and exercise. Once that internal fat is reduced in volume, then we can usually fix the rest. So, for some patients, the first step is getting their lifestyle under control, and getting down to a healthier weight.
How can you tell what part is subcutaneous fat and what part is internal fat? Here’s an easy method: lie down on your bed on your back, and lift your head off the bed, as though your were about to start a sit-up. This tightens the abdomen. Now grab the tummy fat while keeping the muscles activated. You are now feeling your subcutaneous fat thickness. Anything else – unless you have a hernia – is behind the muscle wall, or internal.