From post-pregnancy laxity to extra weight in the midsection, women and men throughout Calgary, Edmonton, Canmore, and Banff turn to plastic surgery to support and improve the appearance of their abdomen. Despite the growing popularity of minimally invasive body-focused procedures to address this area, there is still a strong increase in patients looking for abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) procedures.
Many patients who are looking to have a slimmer, contoured abdomen often ask whether a tummy tuck or liposuction is the better choice for them. Only an in-person consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon can truly confirm which procedure would best achieve your goals – and for this, there are key variables we assess to formulate an individualized surgical plan.
The three main factors you should be discussing with your surgeon during a consult about your abdomen are:
- Muscle elasticity or unity
- The presence of any excess or protruding fat
These factors can vary in patients depending on their genetic makeup, age, diet and exercise, and additionally whether pregnancy and childbirth has occurred.
A tummy tuck may be performed if you have excess, lax skin and/or stretched-out muscles of the abdominal wall (abdominal wall plication). Typically, addressing the abdominal skin is strictly cosmetic, however, the abdominal wall repair may sometimes also be performed for functional improvement.
Tightening the abdominal wall
After experiencing massive weight loss or pregnancy and childbirth, previously firm and centralized abdominal muscles can loosen and weaken, sometimes to the point where they actually separate from each other. This is known as diastasis recti. In some cases, even the most intense, abdominally focused workouts cannot restore their position. Diastasis recti can also occur in middle-aged and older men, especially those with abdominal obesity.
As the muscles in the abdominal wall separate, the vital organs in the area only have a thin band of connective tissue holding them in place. Besides contributing to a bulging appearance of the abdomen, diastasis recti will typically compromise muscular support to result in day-to-day issues from lower back pain, constipation, urinary leaking or incontinence, to potential difficulties in simple functions such as breathing and/or moving about normally.
A Tummy tuck can provide the opportunity for the sort of muscle tightening required to strengthen the abdominal wall, as well as to remove redundant skin and tighten the remainder. Liposuction is an optimal procedure for those patients who would like to address excess abdominal fat or other such localized fat pockets on the body. Due to the fact that it cannot address excess skin or lax muscle, patients must have appropriate muscle tone and skin elasticity to maintain the appearance of the newly shaped contours. Liposuction is sometimes misinterpreted as a weight loss procedure, which, unfortunately, it is not.
Using liposuction with a tummy tuck
For those patients who would like to address skin laxity and/or muscle separation along with excess fat in the abdominal region, both a tummy tuck and liposuction procedure may be required. Plastic surgeons evaluate on a case-by-case basis whether the procedures may be performed simultaneously, or separately in multiple stages.
For some young, healthy patients, a combination procedure may be possible and will minimize overall healing time, but for some others, the staged approach may be more optimal to reduce the extent of potential surgical trauma and bleeding. The order in which the procedures are performed is dependent on the patient’s physical traits and the aesthetic goals they wish to achieve.
Three things you should consider
If you are a prospective patient who would like to improve the appearance of their midsection, there are three things you must bear in mind. First, you must ensure you consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon such as Dr. Laliberte at Radiance Plastic Surgery, who has extensive experience in both procedures with successful results. Second, based on their assessment, you must be open to the possibility that your surgeon may recommend a different course of action than the one you initially had in mind. Lastly, you must be committed to following all post-operative instructions and guidance, including maintaining a long-term healthy diet and exercise regimen to sustain your results.
Choosing a board-certified plastic surgeon is a key stage in your decision-making process. A board-certified plastic surgeon is certified by the Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons. Dr. Laliberte at Radiance Plastic Surgery is a board-certified plastic surgeon and additionally, a trained specialist in surgical body procedures. His artistic and highly technical approach produces natural results tailored to enhance and complement your specific goals and circumstances.