Liposuction for the stomach is performed via one or more small incisions. A thin tube that is attached to an aspirating tube is inserted through these incisions, and the internal fat of the stomach is removed via suction. Liposuction is typically combined with another mode of fat removal, such as tumescent liposuction (commonly known as “lipo-sculpting”). With this surgery you can expect: Immediate Vibrant Energy More Confidence That Lasts Longer
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Liposuction For The Stomach
FIVE THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT STOMACH LIPOSUCTION
1. Not All Fat is Created Equal
There are two types of fat that are especially important when we’re talking about stomach liposuction: subcutaneous fat and visceral fat.
Subcutaneous fat is the jiggly, pinchable fat located just underneath the skin. It’s generally harmless, but aesthetically it can be undesirable. Visceral fat is stored inside the abdominal cavity. Visually, it can be identified as the typical “beer belly” – it’s firm and hard, and people with a lot of visceral fat are sometimes referred to as “skinny-fat.” It’s also much worse for your overall health than subcutaneous fat. All fat cells release hormones, but because visceral fat is stored next to your organs, it’s more likely to interfere with organ functions, which can lead to greater insulin resistance (type 2 diabetes), higher blood pressure, higher bad cholesterol (LDL) levels in your blood stream, and increase risk for heart disease and stroke.
Stomach liposuction can only remove subcutaneous fat. Visceral fat is firmly embedded inside the abdominal cavity – it cannot be suctioned out. Weight Loss through diet and exercise can reduce visceral fat safely and effectively.
An abdomen liposuction before-and-after photo (actual patient)
Having a lot of visceral fat won’t necessarily prevent you from having liposuction, but it will affect the kind of results you can expect from the procedure. The above patient had liposuction of the abdomen as well as waist and hips. We can see clear results, and this patient was very satisfied. However, we can see that the stomach area still has a bit of fullness – that’s from visceral fat, which liposuction can’t address.
Without an MRI or CAT scan, you can’t tell exactly how much visceral fat you have, but there are some general guidelines.
Typically, visceral fat is about 10% of your overall body fat. As a general rule, if you’re a man with a waist over 40 inches, or you’re a woman with a waist over 35 inches, then your visceral fat may start to affect your health – and if your health is poor, you may no longer be a candidate for liposuction.
In your consultation, we’ll address visceral fat, whether you’re a candidate for stomach liposuction, and talk about the kind of results you can expect from the procedure.
2. Stomach Liposuction Doesn’t Require General Anesthesia
This is true for all body areas, but it didn’t used to be the case! In fact, there are still surgeons who prefer the old method using general anesthesia, especially when we’re talking about the abdomen. Whether your surgeon is using general anesthesia or local anesthesia only, they’ll likely use the tumescent method, which has been the gold standard for safe and effective liposuction for many years.
The tumescent method of stomach liposuction involves filling the fatty area between the skin and the abdominal cavity with what’s called tumescent fluid – a mixture of saline and epinephrine, with sodium bicarbonate as a buffer. The saline solution fills the fatty layer under the skin until it is enlarged and firm (or tumesced), making it easier to sculpt – which is why this method is sometimes called Liposculpture. The epinephrine acts as a vasoconstrictor, constricting blood vessels in the area to reduce bruising and blood loss.
If your surgeon is performing stomach liposuction using local anesthesia, they’ll also add lidocaine (a numbing agent) to the tumescent fluid. This allows surgeons to perform lipo without putting patients to sleep, and reduces the risks that come with general anesthesia, making the procedure safer overall. The tumescent method with local anesthesia is what we use here at Houston Lipo Center.
3. Beware of Loose Skin and Belly Hang
As you age, the amount of collagen your body produces decreases, which results in less skin elasticity – meaning your skin doesn’t bounce back like it used to. Now, there’s no wrong age to get liposuction! But be aware, the older you are, the more likely skin laxity may be an issue, especially with stomach lipo.
We use SmartLipo (laser-assisted liposuction) on most cases here at Houston Lipo Center because it has been shown to increase collagen production, which firms and tightens skin in the area.
You may be aware that loose skin can be a problem after extreme weight loss – it also can be an issue after liposuction. Laser-assisted liposuction like SmartLipo will give you the best possible skin-tightening results from liposuction alone. That said, there are some cases where, due to the size of the abdomen or the lack of skin elasticity, you may want to consider a tummy tuck.
Watch this video for more information on when skin laxity is an issue and when it’s not.
4. Fat Doesn’t Move Around (But You Can Still Gain Weight)
Liposuction is an investment in your body, and like any investment, it needs to be maintained. Stomach liposuction won’t prevent you from gaining back weight in your stomach, and it certainly won’t prevent you from gaining weight. If you do gain weight, your stomach will still be slimmer than it would have been otherwise! Remember, liposuction is not a weight loss solution and should not be used like one.
Stomach liposuction removes fat cells from the abdomen area – permanently. Those cells don’t come back, they don’t move around, and your body doesn’t change where it stores fat.
After stomach liposuction, your body has fewer fat cells in the abdomen than it used to (about 70% less). If you gain weight after stomach liposuction, your body stores the same amount of fat in the same places that it usually does. However, since we’ve removed a lot of fat cells in the stomach, other areas may seem larger than your stomach in comparison. Your abdomen will always be smaller than it would have been without lipo – but that doesn’t mean you can eat whatever you want and never gain weight. Again, it’s something you have to maintain – liposuction isn’t a quick fix and shouldn’t be used like one.
5. Six-pack Abs are Made in the Gym (and the Kitchen)
You’ve probably heard the term “abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym.” And there’s a lot of truth to that. If you have a lot of subcutaneous fat, it doesn’t matter how big and strong your abdominal muscles are, they’re just not going to show through.
But wait, liposuction removes subcutaneous fat, right? So why doesn’t everyone who gets liposuction have six-pack abs?
The answer is pretty simple: abs are made in both the kitchen and the gym. Or, in the case of stomach lipo, the gym and the operating room.
You probably know or have seen someone with a flat stomach. They don’t have much fat around their belly, and maybe you can see some muscle definition, but they don’t have what we’d call a six-pack. Visceral fat can also play a role – as we’ve shown previously, if you have a lot of visceral fat, you may not end up with a flat stomach from lipo. But without building strong ab muscles through exercise and weight training, you shouldn’t expect to develop abs from your lipo procedure.
Well-defined abdominal muscles after liposuction (actual patient).
With the above before-and-after photo we can see the results from a stomach liposuction case where we can really see some well-defined abs. This patient clearly hits the gym, and trains his obliques. So, although someone you know might be blessed with a naturally flat stomach, no one’s born with a natural six-pack – they’re made in the gym as much as they are in the OR.
Liposuction vs. Tummy Tuck: Which Option Is Better?
Are the procedures similar?
Abdominoplasty (also called a “tummy tuck”) and liposuction are two different surgical procedures that aim to change the appearance of your midsection. Both procedures claim to make your stomach appear flatter, tighter, and smaller. They’re both performed by plastic surgeons, and are considered “cosmetic,” so they aren’t covered by health insurance.
In terms of the actual procedure, recovery time, and risks, there are some key differences between the two. Keep reading to learn more.
Who is a good candidate?
Liposuction and tummy tucks often appeal to people with similar cosmetic goals. But there are some important differences.
Liposuction may be a good fit if you’re looking to remove small fat deposits. These are commonly found on the hips, thighs, buttocks, or stomach area.
The procedure will remove fat deposits from the targeted area, reducing bulges and improving contour. However, liposuction isn’t recommended as a weight loss tool. You shouldn’t get liposuction if you’re obese.
In addition to removing excess fat from the abdomen, a tummy tuck also removes excess skin.
Pregnancy or significant shifts in your weight can stretch out the skin that surrounds your stomach. A tummy tuck can be used to restore the look of a flat and contoured midsection. This procedure may involve bringing the rectus abdominus, or sit-up muscles, back together if they’ve been stretched or separated by pregnancy.
You may want to reconsider a tummy tuck if:
- your body mass index is over 30
- you’re considering getting pregnant in the future
- you’re actively trying to lose weight
- you have a chronic heart condition
- What is the procedure like?
Liposuctions and tummy tucks are both performed by a plastic surgeon and require incisions and anesthesia.
You may be intravenously sedated for this procedure. In some cases, your surgeon will apply a local anesthetic to your midsection.
Once the area is numb, your surgeon will make small incisions around the site of your fat deposits. A thin tube (cannula) will be moved underneath your skin to loosen the fat cells. Your surgeon will use a medical vacuum to suction out the dislodged fat deposits.
It may take several sessions to achieve your desired result.
Your surgeon will put you to sleep via general anesthesia. After you’re sedated, they’ll make an incision at the bottom of the skin that covers your abdominal wall.
Once the muscles are exposed, your surgeon will sew the muscles in your abdominal wall together if they have become stretched out. They will then pull tight the skin over your abdomen, trim off excess skin, and close the incision with sutures.
A tummy tuck is done in one procedure. The entire surgery typically takes two to three hours.
What are the expected results?
Although liposuction and a tummy tuck both claim permanent results, significant weight gain after either procedure can alter this outcome.
People that have liposuction on their abdomen tend to see a flatter, more proportioned midsection once they have recovered from the procedure. These results are supposed to be permanent. But at least one studyTrusted Source disagrees. According to this study, up to a year after the procedure, the fat deposits reappear, though they may show up elsewhere on your body. If you gain weight, fat will reaccumulate in your body, though not typically in the areas that were suctioned.
After a tummy tuck, the results are considered permanent. Your abdominal wall will be more stable and strong. The excess skin that has been removed won’t return unless fluctuation in weight or a subsequent pregnancy stretches out the area again.
What are the possible complications?
Although there are side effects associated with any surgery, each procedure poses different risks that you should be aware of.
With liposuction, your risk of complication increases if your surgeon is working on a large area. Performing multiple procedures during the same operation can also increase your risk.
Possible risks include:
Numbness. You may feel numbness in the affected area. Although this is often temporary, it may become permanent.
Contour irregularities. Sometimes the fat that’s removed creates a wavy or jagged impression on the top layer of your skin. This can make the skin appear less smooth.
Fluid accumulation. Seromas — temporary pockets of fluid — may form under the skin. Your doctor will need to drain these.
Rare risks include:
Infection. Infections may occur at the site of your liposuction incision.
Internal organ puncture. If the cannula penetrates too deeply, it may puncture an organ.
Fat embolism. An embolism occurs when a loosened piece of fat breaks away, becomes trapped in a blood vessel, and travels to the lungs or brain.
Tummy tucks have been shown to carry more complication risks than some other cosmetic procedures.
In one study, 8.5 percentTrusted Source of people who had a tummy tuck needed to return to the hospital because of some kind of complication. Wound complications and infections were among the most common reasons for readmission.
Other possible risks include:
Changes in sensation. Repositioning your abdominal tissue may affect the superficial sensory nerves in this area, as well as in your upper thighs. You may feel numbness in these areas.
Fluid accumulation. As with liposuction, temporary pockets of fluid may form under the skin. Your doctor will need to drain these.
Tissue necrosis. In some cases, fatty tissue deep within the abdominal area may get damaged. Tissue that doesn’t heal or dies must be removed by your surgeon.
What’s the recovery process like?
The recovery process is also different for each procedure.
Your recovery process will depend on how many areas were operated on, and whether additional liposuction sessions are needed. After the procedure, you may experience: swelling at the site of your fat removal draining and bleeding at the site of your incision.
Your surgeon may recommend that you wear a compression garment to help reduce swelling and help your skin heal smoothly over your new shape.
Because liposuction is an outpatient procedure, regular activity can be resumed fairly quickly. You should be able to do anything you usually do within the next 48 hours.
However, you should hold off on heavy weight lifting and extensive cardio until you’ve gotten approval from your doctor.
When you wake up, your incision will be covered in surgical dressing, which will need to be changed several times. Your surgeon will also provide you with a compression garment or “belly binder.”
Within one day, you should be up and walking (with assistance) to prevent the formation of blood clots. You’ll likely be taking prescription pain relievers and antibiotics to help ease any discomfort and reduce your risk of infection.
Surgical drains may also be in place for up to two weeks.
It takes six weeks for the initial recovery phase of a tummy tuck to pass, and you’ll need several follow-up appointments with your doctor to check on how your incision is healing. During this time, you should avoid any position that involves abdominal extension or bending backwards, which may pull or place too much tension on the incision.
You should also hold off on any strenuous physical activity or exercise until you get your doctor’s approval.
The bottom line
Although liposuction and tummy tucks both aim to improve the appearance of your midsection, these procedures are markedly different in their promised result and the way they work.
Liposuction is a straightforward procedure that carries little risk or recovery downtime. A tummy tuck is considered a more serious operation. Your doctor or potential surgeon will be your best resource in determining which procedure may be right for you.