The Surgeon Minute

Suck or Tuck: Which Procedure is Right for Me?

Suck or Tuck: Which Procedure is Right for Me?

Of all the plastic surgery procedures available today, liposuction has the most universal appeal. Who doesn’t want excess fat sucked out of their body that leaves hardly any visible scar behind?

While it is exciting to dream about the possibility of a better body, it is also important to have realistic expectations about what liposuction can and cannot achieve.

For many people, the parts of the body they are looking to improve are not defined solely by excess fat. There is often also loose, hanging skin, dimpled skin, or stretch marks adding to the equation. If problem skin needs to be addressed as well as excess fat, a patient is typically a better candidate for a more invasive tucking procedure.

When Lipo IS a Good Option

Younger patients who have not experienced large fluctuations in weight are often great candidates for liposuction. This is because their skin quality is still excellent. Good quality skin has the ability to shrink back after fat is removed.

“Perhaps you’re a younger woman that has not had children,” shares board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Richard Restifo. “Your abdomen is a little pudgy and the skin is relatively tight. Liposuction can remove fat from under the skin, the skin will snap back, and you’ll have a beautiful result.”

Suck or tuck - liposuction.

The Limits of Lipo

Liposuction removes fat. There are many things liposuction will not do for your body.

Liposuction Does Not Address:

  • Loose skin
  • The number on the scale
  • Stretch marks
  • Cellulite

Liposuction does not tighten loose skin. In fact, in cases where the skin is loose or dimpled to begin with, there’s a good possibility that these things will look even worse after liposuction.

Liposuction does not dramatically reduce the number on the scale. While the shape of the body does change as small areas of fat are reduced, the overall weight of the body does not fluctuate much after undergoing liposuction.

Liposuction does not eliminate cellulite or stretch marks. Both cellulite and stretch marks are problems that exist within the layers of the skin. In many cases the best way to address problem skin is to remove it with a tucking procedure.

Here a Tuck, There a Tuck

“Tucking procedures are all about the skin,” explains Restifo. “They are designed to remove bad and damaged skin.”

After massive weight loss or pregnancy, the skin of the abdomen often becomes loose and covered in stretch marks. In these patients, liposuction of fat in the stomach area would only serve to deflate the skin and result in an undesirable outcome. “That’s a patient that needs a tummy tuck to remove the bad skin,” points out Restifo.

Suck or tuck? Tummy tuck results.

Other parts of the body like arms and breasts may also be better suited to tucking procedures rather than liposuction, depending on the patient’s anatomy.

Realistic Expectations Result in Happy Patients

It’s no fun bursting someone’s bubble when they are expecting a miraculous transformation with very little downtime or surgery. The truth is, any surgeon who would lead you to believe liposuction is a good choice when you are a better candidate for another procedure would not be doing you any favors in the long run.

According to Dr. Restifo, the key to successful plastic surgery is matching a patient’s anatomy and expectations to their outcome. “The patient has to have a realistic expectation as to what the outcome is going to be,” says Restifo. “Then, when you hit their expectation, they’re happy.”

Choose a Qualified Plastic Surgeon

There are lots of surgeons out there who call themselves plastic surgeons but they do not have the training or experience necessary to be a board certified plastic surgeon. When choosing a surgeon, it is very important to do more than a Google search for local liposuction providers. In fact, any general practitioner could advertise and offer liposuction.

Experienced board certified plastic surgeons have spent years training and developing the skills required to properly assess patients and deliver good results through liposuction and/or skin tucking procedures. “It’s important that you seek out a practitioner that can offer you both,” emphasizes Dr. Restifo. “Because if you seek out a practitioner that does only liposuction, chances are that’s what you’re going to get – whether it’s the right thing or not.”

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