Liposuction Vs Tummy Tuck Surgery

Should You have Liposuction or a Tummy Tuck after Pregnancy or Weight Loss – is your skin quality good enough to just have a Liposuction procedure?

One of the most popular options for body contouring that’s available today is liposuction. Even though liposuction is quite popular, there are many misconceptions about liposuction and what it involves. Our  Victoria cosmetic surgeon, Dr. Richard Maxwell would like to take a moment right now to give you facts that you should know about liposuction vs Tummy Tuck Surgery.

One of the most common and least invasive treatments used to achieve more toned and youthful body contours is liposuction.

Getting older, fluctuating weight, and having children all have an impact on the body. Diet and exercise can improve the health and shape of the body, but cannot fix every significantly noticeable imperfection.

While exercise is essential to maintaining health, it cannot always create the contours our patients desire. For instance, stubborn fat deposits may decrease with exercise but will never disappear completely without surgical intervention. Because every patient is unique in every way, Melbourne Specialist Plastic Surgeon Mr Richard Maxwell  will customise a treatment plan to your individual needs and goals.

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What Is Liposuction – or ‘Lipo’?

Liposuction is the removal of fat deposits beneath the skin through the use of a cannula.

During the liposuction procedure, small incisions are made in the treatment areas.

A cannula is then inserted through the small incisions, and fat is suctioned out.

liposuction-procedure details

There are many liposuction techniques performed today, including tumescent liposuction, ultrasonic assisted liposuction (UAL), and power assisted liposuction (PAL), with each liposuction technique having its own advantages and disadvantages.

Three Key Things to Know About Liposuction

1. Liposuction is NOT for weight loss

We cannot stress this fact enough. Liposuction is not intended to be used for weight loss. Liposuction is performed to remove problematic pockets of fat from the body that do not respond to a healthy diet and regular exercise. We can only extract a relatively small amount of fat during liposuction for health concerns. If you’re looking to lose weight, speak with your physician about the best way to improve your diet and exercise habits.

2. Liposuction can be performed on any part of the body

Most people think that liposuction is just for the abdominal area, but that’s not true. Victoria liposuction can be performed on different parts of the body to reduce the appearance of fat. Essentially, liposuction is the cornerstone of many different body contouring surgeries. If you need your arms, thighs, chest, buttocks, or even parts of your face sculpted in some fashion, liposuction may be part of the solution.

3. Liposuction recovery time is roughly two weeks

The recovery period following liposuction is not that long, but it’ important that you follow our instructions to prevent any possible complications from occurring. This is especially true of the first days after surgery, where discomfort, swelling, bruising, drainage, and occasional nausea are common. We’ll be happy to discuss the full recovery process during your consultation.

For more information about liposuction and your many options for body contouring,  contact Melbourne, Victoria plastic surgeon Richard J. Maxwell  today. We look forward to meeting with you in person.

Am I a Good Candidate for Liposuction?

Patients who are of normal weight and in good health with stubborn fat deposits are good candidates for liposuction. As with any cosmetic procedure, it is important to have realistic expectations.

Patients who are obese or are in poor health are not good candidates for liposuction. Liposuction cannot replace proper diet and exercise and should not be treated as such.

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In order to fully maximize results and transform your body, other procedures such as tummy tuck surgery, breast augmentation, and body lift surgery may be combined with liposuction.

Will Liposuction really help?

Many women and men lose weight, through dieting, exercise or bariatric surgery combined with lifestyle changes.  But the belly or abdominal area is often ‘stubborn’ in terms of having excess body fat or pockets of uneven fat distribution.  Plus, many people who lose weight (or recovery from pregnancy and childbirth) have a protruding belly area.  So how do you know if liposuction after weight loss is right for you?

The only way to fully know if liposuction after weight loss will get you the results you desire in terms of body contouring and the ‘flatter belly’ look is to see a Surgeon for an assessment.

That’s because there are many factors involved in determining if liposuction as a sole procedure, or liposuction as part of a Tummy Tuck Surgery, is going to get you the best result.

Often, if your abdominal area is compromised or damaged – such as abdominal muscle injury common to women who have given birth – or if you have excess skin (redundant skin folds) after losing weight – you may need a Tummy Tuck as well as liposuction.  A full Tummy Tuck (called an “Abdominoplasty”) by a Specialist Plastic Surgeon, such as Melbourne Body Contouring Specialist Dr Richard Maxwell, often involves repair of torn abdominal muscles, reduction of excess skin (surgical excisions), and liposuction for better body contouring results.

One way you may be able to tell if you’ll be a good candidate for Tummy Tuck over Liposuction alone, is to assess the resiliency of your skin, or the degree of excess skin or skin folds in the abdominal or lower torso region.

If you have a large bulge in the front of your abdominal area, that doesn’t change despite weight loss or exercise, you may have abdominal muscle weakness or abdominal muscle damage, or even an abdominal hernia.

If you have just a bit of excess fat around your midsection, mostly in the front of the body, but you have firm, resilient skin with good collagen levels, you MAY be able to have liposuction alone without a full Abdominoplasty surgery.

Most patients who consider surgery, however, are rarely in need of Liposuction alone to get the body contouring results they’re wanting to achieve.

Some patients are best suitable for liposuction alone, but many people who consider surgery to get body shaping results are more suited as being good candidates for a Tummy Tuck procedure (Dr Richard Maxwell performs these at an accredited Melbourne hospital for optimal patient safety and comfort).

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The only way to know is to see a Specialist Surgeon for a personal assessment; there is NEVER any obligation to pursue surgery if you schedule a consultation about your excess abdominal area bulges or excess skin after losing weight, and you’ll learn a LOT more about what surgery can – and cannot – accomplish for you.

Recovery after Lipo

Because liposuction is considered a minimally invasive procedure, however, it is still a serious surgery as ALL surgery is serious and caries risks.  So tends to involve less recovery time than some other surgical procedures partially because the incisions are relatively small (cannula size). However, being minimally invasive does NOT mean you won’t have any surgical downtime.

You will need approximately a week to two to four weeks before resuming normal daily activities, and even longer before resuming heavy lifting. Mr Maxwell will give you specific advice for recovery and downtime, as every patient – and surgery – is different.

Recovery from Lipo Surgery

The recovery from liposuction is often relatively shorter in duration compared to an extended tummy tuck, Belt Lipectomy or a Fleur De Lys Abdominoplasty, but that does NOT mean it’s a matter of days. It’s typically still a 1 to 2 week process for the very uncomfortable stages, and you may not feel fully healed from surgery for a matter of several weeks or even several months.

For patients who consult with Mr Maxwell for liposuction, in his Melbourne Clinic, liposuction as a sole procedure is typically performed as an outpatient basis. However, when combined with other procedures or if extensive liposuction is taking place, then a hospital stay is likely required for 1 to 2 nights on average. If liposuction is performed in conjunction with other treatments, such as tummy tuck or facelift surgery, hospitalization for one or two nights is typically required.

Overview of Post-Op Liposuction Surgery Recovery Period

  • The majority of patients undergoing liposuction are able to gently move around a bit as soon as the Anesthesia has worn off.
  • After the liposuction procedure is complete, compression garments or bandages are applied to the treated areas of the body.
  • These compression garments are vital to the success of your liposuction procedure.
  • Bruising and swelling are the most common side-effects of liposuction.
  • While bruising will disappear within one to two weeks, swelling may persist for a month or more.

Pain, discomfort, and tenderness as a result of liposuction can be treated with medication and is usually minimal. Many of our patients find the recovery phase after liposuction to be quite easy. We recommend patients refrain from strenuous activities for the first month after their liposuction procedure. The majority of our patients are able to return to work within a few days of the procedure. Patients are strongly encouraged to follow after-care instructions diligently to ensure proper healing and optimal results.

Recovery after Tummy Tuck or Lipo – is there a difference?

The main difference between these two surgery options is NOT so much the recovery time – as both need sufficient healing and recovery time, and you won’t be able to drive or lift for a certain length of time (which may be slightly longer for a Tummy Tuck). Rather, it’s more the scars and incisions and your ability to return to work.  You will often need a bit more rest after a Tummy Tuck than Liposuction after weightloss.  But recovery periods after surgery DO vary somewhat, and will depend on a number of factors.

Compression Garments After Tummy Surgery or Lipo

You’ll also need to wear compression garments for both procedures (typically up to 6 to 12 months, with the average being 8 to 10 weeks).  Each patient is unique, however, and results and recovery periods do vary from patient to patient.  A Tummy tuck procedure can often get you a flatter looking tummy than liposuction alone, especially if you are of an age where your skin is less resilient than it was when you were under 20 or under 25 (although even young people can have over-stretched skin due to a combination of weight changes and genetics).  But it does leave a scar.

what's best - tummy tuck or liposuction after weight loss, saggy skin, pregnancy

Tumescent Liposuction after Weight Loss or Bariatric Surgery

Liposuction alone also involves incisions (it is STILL a surgery), but they are much smaller as they only need to allow for a cannula to enter to the area where fat is to be removed with suction-assisted Liposuction (Tumescent Liposuction).

The incisions for a Tummy Tuck or Belt Lipectomy (or body lift/body contouring surgeries), are more extensive.  Wounds take longer to heal and you’ll need to care for them as your Surgeon recommends to get the best scar minimisation results.  Dr Maxwell also has Healite II and Fraxel when needed to help minimise the scars, but as a highly precise Surgeon – if you do your part in the post-op phase to minimise scars – you’ll find that scars fade over 12 to 18 months (most scars reach maturity between 12 or 18 to around 24 months).

The scars for Tummy Tuck surgery are also often in an area of the torso where they can be hidden by undergarments, swimwear or trousers/pants.  That noted, they may certainly be visible in certain garments.

Benefits of Body Contouring Surgery – Lipo Vs Tummy Tuck

Despite the surgery planning, recovery and scar healing time, many people who gain a flatter looking tummy and smoother body contours around the abdomen and waist share that they feel better about how their bodies look, especially in clothing.  When a person feels good about their body shape or contours, and is no longer troubled by skin folds or protruding abdomen tissues, they may report feeling more confident, sexier and happier within themselves.

Are you missing the body contours you had before having children or weight fluctuation (weight gain followed by weight loss)?

Dr Maxwell is a Specialist Plastic Surgeon who has helped numerous Melbourne patients to get the body contours they have been wanting, through Tummy Tuck surgery or Liposuction after weightloss (or both).  Phone us or send an enquiry form to learn more about scheduling a NO OBLIGATION medical consultation with Dr Maxwell.

No GP referral is necessary, however, a GP referral can help with Medicare reimbursement of the consultation fee, and depending on your scenario, e.g. if you have abdominal damage after pregnancy and meet certain medical need requirements, Medicare may be able to reimburse a small portion of the surgery.

Next Steps

Find out more by having a confidential Consultation with Dr Maxwell and learn how YOU can get a flatter-looking belly and the body contouring surgery you’ve been wanting, including how the procedures work and what Abdominoplasty Surgery or Liposuction after weightloss can do for your physique.

Last updated: March 25, 2021
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Dr Richard Maxwell MBBS FRACS(Plas)
Mr. Richard Maxwell graduated in medicine from Monash University in Melbourne in 1981. He trained in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at the Alfred Hospital, the Royal Melbourne Hospital and the Victorian Plastic Surgery Unit in Melbourne. He completed his training in 1989, gaining the Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

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