There may be no such thing as a “perfect” body shape, but few people are completely happy with the look of a flabby midsection. Women and men alike regularly seek changes to their belly via plastic surgery, and the Los Angeles area’s Cosmetic Surgery Institute in Palm Desert helps to explain the various options for abdominal contouring. Depending on their individual needs and unique characteristics, patients who want a leaner-looking physique generally choose between a tummy tuck, liposuction, or a Mommy Makeover.
Whether patients long for a chiseled, athletic appearance, a slender hourglass shape, a sleeker silhouette after weight loss, or just a reduction in an obvious bulge, there is a wide range of options available. Most surgical body contouring techniques are used for the purposes of tackling fat, skin, or muscle that a patient has been unable to modify through conventional methods, such as dieting and exercise.
The ideal patient for body contouring surgery is in a good state of general fitness and overall health, with a few select trouble spots. This is because body-contouring procedures frequently involve fat reduction, but are not for weight reduction. Even committed cyclists and health food enthusiasts can find that they just can’t seem to lose a double chin. In some cases, lifestyle changes or even bariatric surgery result in successful overall weight loss, but leave behind loose skin. In any case, it is important to remember that body contouring procedures are cosmetic choices, best made by people who have managed to achieve a relatively stable weight—and plan to continue to maintain it in the future.
From “beer gut” and “spare tire” to “pregnancy pooch,” “pot belly,” and “middle-aged spread,” having “extra padding” around the middle is such a common insecurity that we’ve come up with lots of less-than-flattering nicknames to describe the problem. When it comes to belly fat, any number of causes may be behind the unwanted volume: Sometimes the culprit is simply weight gain from a sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy eating habits, or heavy alcohol consumption. Genetics can play a part, as can gender, aging, and hormonal changes. A post-pregnancy bulge can occur due to abdominal muscles becoming stretched and separated as the body adjusts to the growing uterus.
The cause of the problem may seem irrelevant—a bulge is a bulge is a bulge—but it actually helps to determine which surgical procedure represents the best solution. Plastic surgeons handle excess fat differently than they do lax skin.
There are three main surgeries to consider when seeking abdomen-focused body contouring:
Surgical fat reduction focuses on removing stubborn fat cells from pockets where they congregate in large numbers and volume. Traditionally, the plastic surgeon uses a device known as a cannula to loosen and suction out the cells. Unlike the tummy tuck, which is only applied to the abdominal area, liposuction also can be used to withdraw fat from surrounding areas—like the flanks, back, love handles, hips, and thighs—to improve overall contours and provide a more natural look. Note that liposuction won’t address lax skin or muscles.
A tummy tuck or abdominoplasty does focus on skin laxity, especially for patients who have lost significant weight or had a baby. In either case, a relatively rapid loss of volume in the abdomen area can leave formerly taut skin loose and baggy. The tuck removes this unneeded skin and ensures the remaining skin sits flatter and tighter. This procedure may also involve some liposuction, as well as the tightening of abdominal muscles that have separated and the creation of a newly positioned navel, if necessary.
Unlike the other two procedures explained here, a Mommy Makeover actually consists of several surgeries that are done at once or in phases, depending on a patient’s preferences. The post-pregnancy “makeover” may include a tummy tuck; liposuction; breast augmentation, lift, or reduction; and more. The idea is to restore the body’s pre-baby contours. Having several surgeries performed at once can optimize the final outcome while reducing time spent on preparation and recovery. The exact procedures involved varies for each woman.
Learn more about what to expect from body sculpting from Palm Desert’s Cosmetic Surgery Institute. Call (760) 837-0364 or fill out a contact form online.