No doubt you’ve heard of liposuction, or, at least, lipo, and probably even a tummy tuck. As plastic surgery gained mainstream acceptance, many of the most common procedures became household terms.
The trouble is, they’re so widely used, and often incorrectly, that cousin procedures, like lipo and the tummy tuck, are confused for one another. So, let’s clear up some of that confusion here and discuss the difference between liposuction and a tummy tuck.
Lipo: A brief primer
Liposuction removes excess fat deposits, slimming and reshaping specific areas of the body, such as the hips and buttocks, abdomen and waist, upper arms, inner knee, and cheeks, chin, and neck.
There are a few different kinds of liposuction; tumescent liposuction is the most common. After the surgeon injects a sterile solution, which aids fat removal; an anesthetic, and a drug that causes blood vessels to constrict into the area that’s being treated, they’ll make small cuts in the skin through which they’ll insert a tube called a cannula. The cannula’s connected to a vacuum that suctions fat and fluids from the body.
There is commonly some mild discomfort and bruising, though you should be well enough to return to work within a few days. The swelling usually subsides within a few weeks but can last longer.
Your surgeon will have you wear a tight compression garment for a few weeks to help reduce the swelling. During that time, some irregularities in the contours of the treated area may develop as the remaining fat settles. But, within a few months, it’ll take on a leaner appearance, and the skin will mold to the new contours.
You’re a good candidate for lipo if you have too much body fat in specific spots. It’s not a treatment for obesity, cellulite, or saggy skin.
Exercise regularly and eat a balanced diet and the results are usually long-lasting.
Tummy tuck basics
The tummy tuck removes excess fat and skin and, in many cases, restores abdominal muscles for a smoother, firmer appearance.
During the procedure, the abdominal muscles are tightened and excess, sagging skin is removed. Like lipo, there are a few different techniques. A “full” tummy tuck addresses the full length of the abdominal wall through a horizontal or U-shaped incision above the pubic mound. Sometimes, a second incision is made around the navel to address excess skin above the belly button.
Because a tummy tuck entails surgery on the abdominal muscles, the recovery is more extensive than it is for lipo. Expect to spend the first week mostly resting. Drains are placed in the incisions to help remove fluid after the surgery, in which case you’ll also need to devote time and attention to maintaining them until they’re removed a few days later.
You’ll be sore and may have some bruising for the first few weeks, but you should be well enough to return to work within ten days to two weeks. After you navigate that stretch of the recovery, you’ll find a much flatter, smoother midsection. Those pesky stretch marks will be a lot less prominent or may be completely gone. You’ll not only look much better in your clothes—especially a bathing suit—you’ll feel better in them.
Tummy tucks are a popular procedure among women following their pregnancies and also men and women who’ve lost a significant amount of weight. It is not, however, intended as a substitute for weight loss.
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