Tummy Tuck or Liposuction: How Do You Decide?

How to determine between liposuction or a  tummy tuck.

So, you have tried the new gym membership, and tried the latest Paleo/ Atkins/ Flexitarian diet for weight loss, and your New Year’s resolution to look better is coming up a little short. Many people really struggle to improve their physical shape with diet and exercise before trying liposuction in the Spokane area. And, it’s not because you haven’t worked hard for it. Hats off to you for trying!

We have a poor understanding of exactly how and where the body decides to store fat. And, once the fat is stored, where does the body decide to use and burn the fat as fuel in the future? We really haven’t been able to predict or manipulate metabolism with good reproducible accuracy. One common misconception that I frequently hear from my patients is that you can make a bulge of fat on your body disappear by simply exercising the muscle group below it to “burn it off.” This is simply not true. The abdominal muscles will certainly strengthen and become more defined by doing 1000 sit-ups a day, but the fat overlying the muscle may not change much. And although I am a strong advocate for a good healthy diet and exercise in our patients, the phenomenon of fat deposition and metabolism around the body is variable.

As a board certified general surgeon with a cosmetic surgery practice in Spokane and Coeur d’ Alene specializing in Smartlipo™ and CoolSculpting®, I see body sculpting patients on a daily basis that have struggled with problem areas that are resistant to diet and exercise in spite of hard work and discipline. We see marathon runners, triathlon and Iron Man athletes requesting Smartlipo and/or tummy tucks who exercise for 15-20 hours per week, who are in excellent condition still struggle with unwanted bulges and problem areas. So what do you do about the “Dunlap” “spare tire” “love handles” and “muffin tops” that continue to hang around (sorry) in spite of our best efforts? A tummy tuck is certainly an option but Smartlipo may be equally good or an even better option. Opinions differ in choosing cosmetic surgery procedures.  A patient can go to one cosmetic surgeon and a tummy tuck is felt to be the best option for a person’s particular situation and then see a different cosmetic surgeon the same day who may feel that liposuction is a better option for the patient. A third surgeon may feel that the patient is not a good surgical candidate at all and that they need to lose 30 pounds before they are a candidate. Why the different opinions? Which one is correct? The answer is possibly all three. Cosmetic surgery when done well is art, science, technology and patient individuality combined together. The ability to safely and effectively accomplish a patient’s goals is the most important end point when considering which procedure or technique a surgeon should employ. Having multiple tools in the surgical or non-surgical tool box gives us the ability to accomplish each patient’s unique and individual goals.

The decision a patient has to make when deciding what procedure and which surgeon should perform the procedure is both important and difficult. This article is not designed to debate the ability or credentials of which specialties should perform cosmetic surgery, but simply that cosmetic surgery in the U.S. is performed safely, effectively and expertly by multiple different medical and surgical specialties with widely varying backgrounds that all contribute to patient safety and good outcomes and good cosmetic results. Communication is the first key to successful cosmetic surgery. The complimentary consultation should help each patient make a decision about both the surgeon and procedure. The discussion during the consultation should be open and the communication from both the patient and physician should be clear and not one-sided.  We approach each patient as a clean slate and they need to help us learn about them. It is important to realize, that each individual patient has different:

  1. Expectations for the procedure and how they want to look
  2. Concerns about scarring
  3. Questions about anesthesia
  4. Tolerance for length of recovery and down time
  5. Concerns about skin laxity and stretch marks
  6. Concerns about the risks of the procedure
  7. Questions about pain
  8. Whether or not they want surgery
  9. Questions about cost of the procedure, anesthesia, and facility fees
  10. Questions about when they can resume exercise and how it will affect their ability to exercise
  11. Questions about how others with their same body type look after the procedure(s)
  12. Questions about what procedure would be best to address their particular condition and concerns

At the conclusion of the consultation and examination these questions and more should have been addressed and an agreement and understanding between the surgeon and patient should be developed.  Only after understanding the goals and needs of each individual patient can a cosmetic surgeon make a recommendation unique to that patient in an attempt to achieve as many of their goals as possible. In general, most of the patients we see prefer a great-looking result with minimal scarring, down-time, and pain and would prefer not to have the risk of surgical incision and general anesthesia. All things being equal, many of our patients evaluating their options for a tummy tuck in Spokane, choose the minimally invasive Smartlipo procedure and are glad they did. In some cases, a tummy tuck is recommended, while in others, neither is recommended.

Contact us for a complimentary consultation and opinion on the best option for you.

According to most research of cosmetic trends worldwide, both of these two entirely different treatments are annually the most commonly performed, everywhere.

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