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Thomas P. Sterry, MD

Liposuction & Tummy Tuck? Peanut Butter & Jelly!

This month’s blog post is inspired by a question from RealSelf user Jthomas86. She writes:

Had a consult today with a PS who advised a tummy tuck for lose skin/ muscle damage in my low abdomen. Although I am not overweight (116lbs) I’ve had 3 c sections. I do want lipo combined with a TT. He said he doesn’t perform lipo with a TT because it isn’t safe and increases risk of blood clots and necrosis. Is this true? I thought it was pretty standard to combine them.

Her plastic surgeon is partially correct. Performing liposuction of the abdomen at the same time as a tummy tuck can lead to complications. However, as a prominent tummy tuck surgeon, I always let my NYC patients know that selective liposuction of the waistline can enhance their results. In fact, I use this approach very successfully on a regular basis.

Let’s start with some context.

Tummy tuck surgery is effective for many different people, but it’s especially popular among women who want to regain a proportionate, taut hourglass figure after pregnancy or weight loss. While the tummy tuck itself can help flatten the abdomen by removing excess skin and repositioning muscles, it’s the added complementary liposuction that creates a curvy, feminine waistline. You can see some of these results for yourself in a previous blog post.

I try to emphasize that tummy tuck surgery isn’t a weight loss procedure, and people who are significantly overweight aren’t likely to be good candidates for surgery. Instead, it’s a better idea for people who are at a healthy, maintainable weight but want to refine their abdomens.

PB&J, you say?

When performed on their own, both liposuction and tummy tuck can yield nice results for eligible patients. Tummy tuck reduces excess skin and improves muscle condition, while liposuction removes fat. They are different procedures, of course, but they’re working toward the same end goal. I tell my patients to think of it like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich: peanut butter is good on its own; so is jelly. But when you put them together, the results are far better than either one by itself. And so it is with tummy tuck and liposuction.

One last thing: Experience matters.

It’s always important to do your research before you choose any sort of plastic surgeon, and it’s doubly crucial to select a board-certified plastic surgeon with an ample amount of body contouring experience before undergoing any sort of combined body contouring procedure. A successful tummy tuck with liposuction requires ample knowledge of both procedures, as well as how they work together. In many cases, additional liposuction around the hips can create a more cohesive result, for example.

Above all, remember that all bodies are different. This approach can certainly create some astounding results, but it’s not the perfect fit for everyone. An in-person consultation is the only way to know for sure.

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Dr. Thomas P. Sterry

Thomas Sterry, MD, is a board-certified New York City plastic surgeon with over a decade of experience. At his inviting, boutique-style practice in Manhattan, he focuses on each patient's unique needs and aesthetic goals so that he can provide the most attractive and natural-looking outcomes possible.

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