If your experience of 2020 to date has left you yearning for the slightest glimmer of positive change, you may have been entertaining thoughts of a little physical self-improvement. Turning over a new leaf with positive diet and exercise changes are always an excellent start, but some may feel the need to go further and consider tummy tuck surgery or liposuction.
Abdominoplasty, aka tummy tuck surgery, is a popular option for women for many reasons. Having children had left plenty of mothers with a “mummy tummy” that hard to budge, while any number of lifestyle changes have left other women with an unwelcomed amount of belly fat. Hormones or menopause are sometimes to blame, and sometimes women are simply more genetically predisposed to gaining excess fat around their waist.
Before you jump into decisions about any cosmetic procedures, though, you must do your homework and fully understand the pros and cons of every appropriate surgical option. Because while the name ‘tummy tuck’ has become the go-to phrase for those wanting to remove belly fat, in reality, most women will find that abdominal liposuction – which is a far less invasive procedure – is a better option for them.
Abdominoplasty is a major surgical procedure, and as with every surgical procedure, there are risks. It requires significant downtime which may be difficult if you are caring for a young family or have a job to maintain, and there is significant expense involved. Alternatively, abdominal liposuction provides excellent results with far less downtime and expense. Let’s have a closer look at both abdominoplasty and abdominal liposuction and see which may be a better option for you.
A tummy tuck requires significant downtime
A tummy tuck is a major surgical procedure that involves, at a minimum, cutting through the skin from hip to hip; consequently, it takes a good three weeks for the wounds to heal. A general anaesthetic is required, which may make you fatigued for several days. Your wound will be tender, sore and swollen. Usually, patients suffer only moderate pain for the first couple of weeks, which can be remedied by taking over-the-counter painkillers. However, it’s imperative you rest during this recovery time and avoid doing any household chores or picking up small children. All strenuous activity must be postponed for at least four to six weeks.
Liposuction alternative: Abdominal liposuction requires surprisingly little downtime. There is no cutting or scarring, other than tiny marks where the cannula is inserted. There’s no need for general anaesthetic; instead, Dr Feldman only uses local anaesthetic and light sedatives. For those who would prefer more sedation, twilight sedation can be arranged.
After the procedure, you’ll be given a compression garment to wear for up to four weeks. You can start walking the next day, providing you feel comfortable. Full exercise routines can commence 3-4 weeks after surgery.
You will have surgical drains, post-operatively
Usually, you’ll be given surgical drains – during or after surgery – to keep swelling at bay and ensure optimal healing. These drains will require your strict attention and care to avoid problematic infection.
Liposuction alternative: After stomach liposuction, no drains are needed. As there has been no cutting, there is far less swelling and soreness.
Complete abdominoplasty healing may take up to a year
A tummy tuck involves major surgery, creating a significant wound that takes months for the swelling and tenderness to subside. It’s highly likely you won’t feel ‘like yourself’ until the swelling and tenderness subsides. The area around the wound may also feel numb for a good year. Conservatively speaking, you should wait a year for the full effects of a flatter stomach to be noticeable.
Liposuction alternative: The majority of the results will be seen after a few days; however, full recovery from liposuction may take up to one month.
A tummy tuck is best for excessively stretched skin
If you have a significant amount of scarred, overstretched skin, a tummy tuck may be your best option, as no other procedure can remove excess flesh. However, if you have an abundance of fatty tissue on your stomach, liposuction may be the preferable option, especially considering the time, risks and expense involved.
Liposuction alternative: Although a tummy tuck is best for those with handfuls of overstretched skin, as mentioned above, many women with sagging flesh and excess fatty tissue can receive beautiful results through liposuction alone.
A tummy tuck leaves a permanent scar
Tummy tuck surgery leaves a small, thin line from hip to hip. Although this will fade over time, it will remain visible for years.
Liposuction alternative: There are virtually no scars with liposuction, other than the tiny incisions where cannulas are inserted. These incision marks fade within months.
A tummy tuck is expensive
A tummy tuck is a major surgical procedure that requires an overnight hospital stay. Additionally, there are theatre fees and anaesthetist’s fees to pay. You must also consider the time you need to take off work. Expect not to go back to work for at least three weeks – and ensure you have help at home for all housework and parenting chores.
Liposuction alternative: Generally speaking, liposuction costs approximately two to three times less than abdominoplasty. This is because liposuction is less invasive, can be performed in our registered day surgery without a lengthy overnight hospital stay and does not require an anaesthetist. Further, the patient can resume work and household activities far sooner.
Abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) FAQs
Is getting a tummy tuck worth it?
Deciding whether any surgical procedure is ‘worth it’ is subjective. If you have excessive amounts of stretched, scarred skin on your stomach that causes you significant emotional or physical discomfort – that cannot be cosmetically improved by removing fat cells via liposuction – then a tummy tuck may be a worthwhile option for you. However, if you simply have extra kilos and run your stomach, liposuction may be far preferable as it is less expensive, has less downtime and provide excellent results.
How painful is a tummy tuck?
A tummy tuck involves a considerable amount of cutting through the skin from hip to hip. Sometimes it also involves tightening abdominal muscles. A ‘new’ artificial navel may also be constructed. All these procedures make the area swollen and painful for several weeks.
How dangerous is a tummy tuck?
All surgical procedures carry risks. As a tummy tuck is considered major surgery, there are considerable risks attached, such as infection, blood clotting and on rare occasions, pulmonary embolism.
When is liposuction better than a tummy tuck?
If you have excessive fatty tissue and loose flesh but do not have badly scarred, stretched skin (that may require surgical removal), then liposuction may be a better option than abdominoplasty for you. Liposuction is also less expensive, has fewer risks and less downtime. You may also be surprised at how well your skin contract back into shape after your lipo procedure.
Can I die from a tummy tuck?
The risks of dying after tummy tuck surgery are extremely low, but it can happen.
How much weight can you lose with a tummy tuck?
Some individuals lose around 4 kg with a tummy tuck. However, if you simply desire fat loss in the abdominal area, liposuction may be a far better option as it is less invasive, far less expensive and has far less downtime.
Does a tummy tuck have any adverse side effects?
A tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) does have considerable negative side effects such as pain, swelling, bruising and numbness. You will also have to endure a considerable amount of downtime while healing. There are also severe risks such as infection, blood clots or pulmonary embolism. Alternatively, stomach (tummy) liposuction has very few side effects, minimal downtime and costs approximately two to three times less than abdominoplasty.
How long do tummy tucks last?
Tummy tucks are considered permanent as the excess skin and fat cells are permanently removed. However, if you put on a considerable amount of weight after surgery, the size of your tummy will increase. Likewise, liposuction permanently removes fat cells. To keep the fat cells off though, it is essential you maintain a healthy diet and exercise regimen. However, with liposuction, if fat cells do return, they are more likely to return to different parts of the body.