What is Liposuction and Abdominoplasty: Procedure, Risks, Benefits, Recovery Period

What is Liposuction and Abdominoplasty?

Having a perfect figure has become the goal of many people deciding to have a liposuction or abdominoplasty. The desire for a smooth stomach is very common but many people get confused about which is the best way to achieve it. Both of these procedures are helpful in removing excess fat from the body. Abdominoplasty, in addition, tightens the skin as well. Liposuction and abdominoplasty are designed to suck out the localized fat deposited in certain areas that neither exercise nor diet can reduce.

One interesting fact is that the fat cells do not reproduce. So those cells are always there, neither increasing nor decreasing in number. However, they increase or decrease in size. When you are thin, the fat cells are shrunk and when you gain weight they just swell up.

Abdominoplasty, also known as tummy-tuck, removes excess fat and skin, and in most cases restores weakened or separated muscles creating an abdominal profile that is smoother and firmer. This procedure improves appearance of the abdomen.

Liposuction, on the other hand, removes the fat but does not retract the skin. Liposuction can be performed on many parts of the body to remove fat deposits and sculpt a more pleasing contour. Hips, thighs, flanks, abdomen and buttocks are some of the more common areas addressed. Because the fat cells are permanently removed, bulges cannot come back in that place. However, it is preferred in areas with tight skin like hips, saddleback, and flank.

Liposuction associated with abdominoplasty aims to improve body contours in a specific area of the abdomen. The procedure involves the removal of excess skin below the umbilicus, significantly improving supraumbilical flaccidity, the shape of the navel, and waist definition. Excess fat around the abdomen is removed, and the umbilicus is repositioned with great aesthetic improvement of the scar. Moreover, the surgery is combined with liposuction in order to achieve even more aesthetically satisfactory results.

Factors like age, weight gain, pregnancy or combination of these factors can cause the skin to lose its elasticity.

Combining these two procedures is another great way to make you body look in shape. However, care needs to be taken of the blood supply with the abdominal skin that is being pulled down. So, liposuction in such areas is generally avoided.

What is Liposuction and Abdominoplasty?

Can You Get Saggy Skin, Weakened Muscles, And Stretch Marks Again After Liposuction or Abdominoplasty Surgery?

Once the fat cells are removed, you never re-grow new fat cells, but the fat cells that are left behind can get bigger. You may get it back if you put on a significant amount of weight. Although, the results of tummy tuck with liposuction are long lasting. Liposuction cannot remove all the fat cells from your body. So the cells that have been left behind always have a chance to grow in size if you do not follow a healthy diet and regular exercise routinely. However, it will not be as bad as it was before as most of the fat cells have been removed from that area. Now the cells in other areas may grow in size and might make it look uneven.

The surgeon will confirm how good you are a candidate first. For this, he will see the following criterions:

  • If you are in a state of good health.
  • If you carry excess weight in the area where you desire the surgery.
  • If you have loose or droopy skin in that area.
  • If you have practical expectations of the surgery.
  • If you commit to maintain the result with healthy diet and regular exercise.

The best candidates for liposuction are close to their ideal weight. Liposuction is a body contouring procedure, but is not a safe method for significant fat removal. Ideally, you should be within ten pounds of your goal weight before considering liposuction.

How To Prepare For Liposuction Or Abdominoplasty?

Before the abdominoplasty, your surgeon will likely review your medical history. You must discuss your past and current medical problems. Be open about any kind of medicines you are taking or any surgeries that you’ve had in the past. Your surgeon may also perform a physical exam to determine your treatment options. Before deciding for the liposuction or abdominoplasty surgery you must clearly discuss your expectations after the surgery.

If your surgeon thinks you are a suitable candidate for a tummy tuck with liposuction, he may ask you to stop smoking as smoking decreases blood flow in the skin and thus slower the process of healing. He may ask you to take some anticoagulants to avoid any clotting during the liposuction or abdominoplasty procedure.

How is Liposuction/Abdominoplasty Procedure Performed?

After induction of general anesthesia, a thin, hollow cannula is inserted through the skin incision to loosen excess fat using a controlled back and forth motion. This dislodged fat is then suctioned out of the body using surgical vacuum. In abdominoplasty, the plastic surgeon removes loose skin, tightens the abdominal muscles, and eliminates stubborn deposits of fat. This proven surgical treatment can be thoroughly customized to meet the unique needs and goals of each individual patient. There are several variations of tummy tuck surgery, each designed to target certain areas of the body or specific issues.

  • Liposuction if done alone can be performed as an outpatient procedure.
  • During the liposuction procedure you might be given an antibiotic to prevent infection.
  • The procedure typically takes about three hours.

What are the Risks and Benefits of Liposuction/ Abdominoplasty?

Risks of abdominoplasty or tummy tuck include anesthesia risks, fluid accumulation, bleeding, poor wound healing, asymmetry, loose skin, suboptimal results, and possibility of revisional surgery.

Risks of liposuction include anesthesia risks, bruising, irregular pigmentation, swelling, thermal burn or heat injury from ultrasound, deep vein thrombosis, irregular contour and asymmetry, swelling, poor wound healing etc.

These risks and others should be fully discussed prior to your consent. It’s important that you address all your questions directly with your plastic surgeon.

What is the Recovery Period Following Abdominoplasty or Liposuction?

Recovery after a liposuction alone is quicker (about 2 weeks) compared to when done in combination with abdominoplasty as this surgery requires a lot of stitches which need to be healed before you get back to your normal level of activities. You will be advised bed rest for about 5 days with minimal amount of walking. You will be asked to wear compression garments as they help diminish the swelling and thus help the surgical site to heal faster. You should wear this garment 24×7 for the initial few days. It is recommended to opt for a pain pump after the abdominoplasty with liposuction surgery to reduce the pain. Drains will be put to drain the excess fluid which may otherwise create problems. You will be asked to avoid shower in the first 5 days following abdominoplasty with liposuction. Although, you can go to the bathroom as many times as you need to, but you should be accompanied by someone. It is normal to have pain after abdominoplasty with liposuction surgery. You can have pain medicines for the pain. You should be regular in your follow ups after the surgery for the surgeon to know how well you are healing and recovering.

During the recovery period following abdominoplasty with liposuction, you will be expected to quit smoking as nicotine slows down the process of healing. You will be given specific instructions like how to care for the surgical site, medication to be taken to avoid infections and aid the healing, when to follow up with your surgeon etc.


Recent reports state that conservative liposuction with abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) does not significantly increase the risks to the patient. This surgery is never necessary and you ultimately have the decision on what surgery is performed.

Liposuction or abdominoplasty are not tools of weight loss. In fact the ideal potential patient is at a healthy weight, or a little over, not obese.

If your surgeon is recommending liposuction and has the experience in performing liposuction with a tummy tuck, you can go with his recommendation.

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:February 7, 2018

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