A healthy lifestyle including diet and exercise should always be the first course of action before surgical intervention is considered. But there are cases when all the cardio and crunches in the world won’t eliminate stubborn belly fat or tighten loose skin. The gold standard for abdominal body contouring has always been Liposuction and/or a Tummy Tuck. Whether you need Liposuction or a Tummy Tuck depends on your goals and on your anatomy. Basically, Liposuction removes fat deposits from under the skin but does not tighten or remove loose skin.
Some women’s goal is just to fit better in clothes, so the loose skin is not as much of a concern as eliminating the fat bulge. Liposuction also does not address the midline muscle separation that can occur with pregnancy. In short, if your skin and muscles are in good shape, you may be a perfect candidate and get a good result with liposuction alone. If your skin and muscle layer need some tightening, a tummy tuck might be a better choice. However, the choice is yours. The purpose of a consultation is to help you understand your options and to better understand the recommendations of a board-certified plastic surgeon.
Women’s Reasons For Seeking Abdominal Contouring Surgery:
While pregnancy and preparing for impending motherhood can be one of the most wonderful times in a woman’s life, it is also the leading reason women seek cosmetic surgery to improve their mid-section!
Unfortunately, nurturing the growth of a baby for nine months can cause some significant changes to a woman’s tummy. Women in particular have a hard time strengthening these muscles after multiple pregnancies and are often left with an extra layer of fat that clings to the mid-section as well as loose, crepy skin. The abdomen is often resistant to toning by exercise and/or diet and loose skin can become even more noticeable with weight loss.
Determining which abdominal surgical procedure is appropriate depends on if you are dealing with one or all of the above issues. Many women will benefit from both procedures, as liposuction eradicates the fatty deposits, but it does not tighten the abdominal wall or lax, stretched out skin that hasn’t resolved itself after a reasonable amount of time, usually 8 to 12 months.
An abdominoplasty or tummy tuck tightens the excess skin of the lower abdomen and can also help eliminate stretch marks caused by multiple pregnancies. The muscles of the abdominal wall are tightened to improve the "tone" of the mid-section and liposuction can also be performed to remove fat and additionally contour the abdomen and waist.
It is ideal if women are within 5 - 10 lbs. of their desired weight and have completed their families before considering post-pregnancy abdominal surgery. And of course, best results are achieved when a healthy diet and exercise are an ongoing component of your lifestyle.
A Tummy Tuck, or Abdominoplasty, is the most commonly requested procedure by patients who have undergone bariatric surgery or lost large amounts of weight. This method of skin tightening works well for patients who have lost a great deal of weight, and would like eliminate excess skin. A tummy tuck differs from the other methods of post-bariatric surgery skin removal in that both the muscle and the skin are tightened. In doing so, achieving a flat, firm belly.
This procedure can remove excess skin and fat from the middle and lower abdomen and also tighten the muscles of the abdominal wall. This can dramatically reduce the appearance of a protruding abdomen that won’t respond to diet or exercise, giving you a flatter, firmer, tighter stomach and a thinner waist as well.
If there is extreme sagging of the skin on the abdomen, hips, buttocks and outer thighs, a procedure called a Central Body Lift can be performed in conjunction with a tummy tuck. This procedure is designed to tighten loose skin to obtain more youthful contours by lifting the buttocks and tightening the hips and abdomen. This is accomplished through a strategically placed incision that can be hidden under a bathing suit.
Body lifts are essentially “facelifts” for the body that can be performed with or without liposuction, depending on the desired result. The best candidates for this procedure are women who are in good health but have a large amount of loose abdominal skin, extending into the posterior hip region.
The surgery is particularly good for women who, after multiple birth pregnancies, have stretched their abdominal muscles and skin beyond the point where they can return to normal, as well as women who have lost a lot of weight and have excess sagging skin.
Before menopause, women are predisposed to gain weight in their hips and legs (i.e., become pear shaped), but during and after menopause, the drop in estrogen can redirect body fat distribution toward the abdomen. This is often referred to as the dreaded 'middle age pooch'.
Researchers at the University Of North Carolina School Of Medicine analyzed Gender and Body Image (GABI), where they reviewed data from 1,789 women, aged 50 and above. According to the research, only 12.2 percent of the respondents were satisfied with their body size, and nearly 56.2 percent of 50+ women said they were unhappy with their stomachs!
Statistical estimates show that over half of the women who undergo a tummy tuck are post-menopausal. Many women decide to have Tummy Tucks at this point in their lives when the kids are older or out of the house and they want to do something for themselves. Menopause often is accompanied by mid-torso fat and a combination of tummy tuck and liposuction can improve the appearance of a thickening waistline. If your weight is still fluctuating, it is ideal to stabilize it before having surgery. Also, the effects of hormone replacement need to be taken into consideration to minimize the possibility of blood clots.
Body image continues to remain a monumental issue for women, both young and old, through every phase of life. Educating yourself on what to expect and how to thrive as you travel through these transitions will minimize anxiety and allow you to live a healthy, happy and beautiful life!
— by Diane Gibby • M.D., P.A., F.A.C.S
About Dr. Gibby
Diane Gibby, M.D., P.A., F.A.C.S Licensed in Texas, Dr. Diane Gibby is board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) and the founder of The Women's Center for Cosmetic and Plastic Surgery. She is a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), American Medical Association (AMA), Texas Society of Plastic Surgeons (TSPS), Dallas County Medical Society (DCMS) and the Board Certified Plastic and Cosmetic Surgeons of Dallas. She is also a Fellow in the American College of Surgeons (F.A.C.S.). Dr. Gibby's office is located at Medical City Dallas, Building C, Suite 820, (972) 566-6323. Individuals interestedin brochures or names of qualified plastic surgeons in their area may call the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons at 1-800-635-0635.