FAQ: Do I Need a Tummy Tuck or Liposuction?



I already know I’ll need plastic surgery to have the flat, toned tummy I want, but should I get a tummy tuck or liposuction?

Even after regular dieting and exercise, achieving a flat, toned abdomen is often out of reach for many people, especially those who have undergone a pregnancy or have experienced dramatic weight loss.  The excess belly flab and loose skin and/or lax abdominal muscles that plague them is a challenge that becomes too hard or even impossible to overcome.  Luckily, more and more patients can opt to undergo plastic surgery to achieve the taut, firm belly they desire and that helps them recapture their self-confidence.  But what procedure is best?

The decision, though often straightforward, should always be made in conjunction and in consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon, according to Dr. Shahram Salemy, Seattle Plastic Surgeon and multiple Patient’s Choice award winner.  In general, liposuction usually works very well for patients who enjoy good skin quality and intact stomach muscles, and who are battling only excess fat (“love handles” or “saddlebags”, e.g.).  Liposuction can both remove persistent areas of relative excess fat as well as shape and contour the area to achieve a more aesthetically appealing appearance.  Additionally, some surgeons like Dr. Shahram Salemy use ultrasound energy or other techniques to help tighten the skin, thereby contributing to an enhanced final result overall.  The best candidates are patients in good health and have specific pockets of fat that are resistant to diet and exercise.

However, an Abdominoplasty (a.k.a, a “Tummy Tuck”) may be the only method for those who suffer from thin or stretched skin, stretched stomach muscles or a bulging belly to see any dramatic improvement.  Viewing surgeon’s before and after photos as well as thoughtful discussions with your surgeon can give you a good idea of what to expect from each approach.  Abdominoplasties are intended to remove excess fat and skin and tightening the abdominal wall muscles.  The best candidates are men and women who are in good health, women who have had multiple pregnancies and want to tighten their muscles and remove extra skin, and people who have lost a significant amount of weight and still have excess fat and loose skin around their midsection.

In some cases surgeons may recommend both procedures for a patient.  Here again, Dr. Shahram Salemy cautions patients to understand all the ramifications of this approach and ensure they are working with a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon.

Patients can see Before and After Liposuction pictures and Before and After Tummy Tuck pictures, as well as browse through more Tummy Tuck FAQs and Liposuction FAQs.