When I see patients who are unhappy with the appearance of their stomach, I may recommend abdominoplasty (tummy tuck), liposuction, or even a combination of the two. Doing liposuction at the same time as an abdominoplasty seems logical: the goal of liposuction is to remove excess fat and the goal of abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) is to remove excess skin, so they are complimentary procedures. But many people don’t realize that doing the two procedures at the same time can actually lead to problems.
During an abdominoplasty, the skin over the abdomen is elevated off the underlying muscles all the way up to the level of the rib cage. This allows the excess skin to be pulled down and removed. On the figure below (demonstrated an an incredibly fit model, who admittedly needs neither lipo or a tummy tuck), the blue outlines the area of skin which is elevated off the underlying muscles.
Lifting the skin up cuts many of the blood vessels which supply the skin with nutrients, so the blood supply to this skin flap is decreased. Subsequently performing liposuction in an area with decreased blood supply can cause problems including skin necrosis, where the skin actually dies, leaving an open wound. Thus liposuction over the central and upper abdomen (the areas marked in red) should be done cautiously and conservatively after an abdominoplasty. The hips, thighs, and flanks, however, are not at all affected by having an abdominoplasty; performing liposuction on these areas at the same time is safe (areas marked in green). If you are considering having liposuction and an abdominoplasty at the same time, here are some questions you may want to ask your surgeon:
- Do you do liposuction and an abdominoplasty at the same time?
- If so, how often do you perform this procedure?
- Have you ever had any complications?
To summarize, having an abdominoplasty and liposuction at the same time is possible. Depending on the areas where liposuction is performed, the combination can lead to a higher complication rate. If this is something you are considering, be sure that you feel comfortable with your surgeon’s experience level and his or her explanation of how the procedure will be performed, as well as the risks and benefits.
Disclaimer: This webpage is for general information only. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical illness, or give any specific medical advice. Because medical knowlege is constantly evolving, I cannot guarantee the accuracy or timeliness of any information in this blog.