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Liposuction & More: Tackling Unwanted Abdominal Fat

Posted on October 4, 2018

By: Dr. Asaf Yalif

Woman in red dress looking in the mirror and smiling

Everyone wants a quick and easy way to address their abdominal region. From the many blog posts and Youtube videos on how to firm up, slim down, or get a six pack – to the hundreds of diets designed to burn belly fat – the abdomen is a focus for many of us. There’s often more going on than a build-up of fat. At Y Plastic Surgery, the most effective solution is often plastic surgery such as liposuction, a tummy tuck, or a mommy makeover for the patients we see in Atlanta and Alpharetta GA.

Let’s review these procedures, their benefits and limitations, to help you figure out the best way to tone and tighten your abdominal area.


Used for: removing targeted areas of stubborn fat, not overall weight loss

Best candidates: adults who are within 10 to 15 pounds of their goal weight who have areas of stubborn fat that don’t seem to reduce with exercise.

How It’s Done

Liposuction is a minor surgical procedure that addresses subcutaneous fat, which lies below the skin but above the muscles of the abdomen. I use small, hidden incisions to access the fat layer and then remove around 60 to 70% of the fat through a tube called a cannula. The small access incisions are then closed. A compression garment is applied to make sure you heal without bumps/lumps that can develop when swelling fluid fills the space where the fat was before.

Types of Liposuction

I offer different types of liposuction that depend on the area being addressed.

  • Traditional tumescent liposuction – A solution is injected to numb the area and minimize bleeding and swelling, then cannulas are used to break up and remove the fat.
  • VASERlipo® or ultrasound-assisted liposuction – Ultrasound energy is used to destroy the fat cells before they are removed with the same cannulas as tumescent liposuction.
  • Laser liposuction – A laser mounted on the cannula is used to melt the fat, which is then removed with cannula. This type of liposuction is good for small areas and may help tighten the skin a little bit.

The fat in the subcutaneous layer can be pretty “fluffy” and can be used for fat grafting, like in a Brazilian butt lift (BBL).  See some of my actual liposuction patients in my online photo gallery.

Recovery After Liposuction

Swelling in treated areas subsides with time and full recovery can be expected within 4 to 6 months.

Tummy Tuck

Used for: addressing excess abdominal skin, fat, and muscle laxity.

Best candidates: women who have finished having children and post weight loss patients.

How It’s Done

In addition to extra fat in the belly region with pregnancy or significant weight loss, you can have too much skin and the “ab” muscles may loosen. When this happens addressing the fat layer alone will not give you the result you are hoping for. Instead, we may recommend a tummy tuck in addition to liposuction. The tummy tuck enables us to address the skin, subcutaneous fat, and muscles whereas liposuction just addresses the subcutaneous fat layer. I discuss other tummy tuck benefits in this blog post.

Incisions for the tummy tuck are hidden low, beneath the bikini line and can go from hip to hip, or further if there is a lot of excess skin. There is also a small incision around your belly button – to make it smaller and relocate it to its new position. Don’t worry though; it’s still your belly button, just in a new location!

Once the skin is elevated and we have removed some fat, we can address the laxity in the ab/core muscles. We do this by repairing the ab muscles and sewing them back together, like they were before pregnancy. Once the muscles are tightened, we remove the excess skin, advance the skin, and close everything.

In a small number of cases, a patient may only need a mini tummy tuck, which I call a “skin only” tummy tuck because it won’t include repairing abdominal muscles. It is generally only suitable for patients whose concerns are limited to the area below the belly button.

Visit my online tummy tuck photo gallery to see some of my actual patients before and after surgery.

Recovery After a Tummy Tuck

Recovery from a tummy tuck is longer than that from liposuction because skin has been removed and the core muscles have been reinforced. We use an abdominal binder/corset to help support those muscles while you heal, typically over 8 to 10 weeks. In addition, I usually use surgical drains to make sure that no fluid collects beneath the skin as you heal. These thin, plastic tubes are inserted during surgery and typically removed in the office at around 2 weeks.

Mommy Makeover

Used for: addressing the changes that can occur to a mother during pregnancy, breastfeeding, and childbirth

Best candidates: women who want to address multiple areas with a single surgery and recovery period

How It’s Done

Most mommy makeovers combine a tummy tuck and liposuction with a breast procedure. As you may know, even if a woman chooses not to breastfeed, the breasts often change dramatically with pregnancy and may not have the same fullness afterwards.

When addressing the breasts, mommy makeover patients have the full gamut of options available – augmentation, reduction, lift, or a combination. It will depend mostly on your desired goals – bigger? smaller? less saggy? We can address them all during the mommy makeover helping you to regain the aesthetic that you desire. To see actual results, look through my mommy makeover photo gallery.

Recovery After a Mommy Makeover

This depends on which procedures are performed. A big advantage is that you will only have to take time out from your responsibilities only once. Most patients need at least 10 days of dedicated rest time that includes help with any little ones.

Which Is Right for You?

For many adults, especially women who have had one or more babies, getting back a slim, firm abdominal area often requires help from plastic surgery. A board-certified plastic surgeon who is experienced in a range of procedures can help you understand whether liposuction is enough or you require a combination of procedures to get the improvements you want.

I am happy to answer all your questions; just request a personal consultation using our online form. You can also call one of our offices at (404) 476-8774 (Alpharetta & Atlanta) to schedule an appointment.

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