It can be shocking: One day, you have a firm, athletic and youthful figure. And then the next day (it seems), you're out of shape, with a spare-tire or muffin top that just won't go away.
So, you hit the gym and start cutting out foods you know could lead to weight gain, such as sugar, high-glycemic carbohydrates and trans-fats. You may lose a few pounds. You may lose a lot of pounds. But when you look in the mirror, there it is: the big, flabby tummy. You add in more crunches. More cardio. Even fewer carbs. But the bulge just won't budge.
Unfortunately, fat that is resistant to diet and exercise is usually genetically predetermined. Even if you were at your absolute ideal weight, with a healthy diet and exercise regimen, you would probably still have a little “pooch.” Hormonal changes that occur during aging, weight gain, and/or pregnancy and nursing can contribute to a permanent shift in your shape.
So, after you've done all you can do, what do you do next? For more and more people, the solution to a flabby tummy is either liposuction and/or abdominoplasty, otherwise known as a “tummy tuck.” A consultation with Julio Garcia, MD -- a Las Vegas plastic surgeon based in Henderson, NV, who performs both liposuction and tummy tuck surgery – can help you decide which procedure is best for contouring your body and getting back to a more youthful physique.
What Does Liposuction Do?
Liposuction literally suctions away fat (lipids) from areas on your body that do not respond to exercise or diet. In addition to the spare tires and muffin tops associated with abdominal fat, liposuction can also treat the following areas that tend to accumulate stubborn fat:
- Flanks (love handles)
- Thighs (saddle bags)
- Upper Arms (Aunt Minnies)
- Inner Thigh Fat (chub rub)
- Back and Bra Fat
When you contour your body with liposuction, the fat is permanently removed. One advance since the early days of liposuction is that we now perform a procedure called tumescent liposuction. “Tumescent” means “swollen.” When you receive your tumescent liposuction, your fatty areas will be “swollen” with an injection of a special saline solution that contains lidocaine to numb the treatment area (and thus avoid the need for general anesthesia), adrenaline to constrict blood vessels and thereby control bleeding, and sodium bicarbonate to break up the fat for easier removal.
For most patients, all of the stubborn fat will be suctioned away during one liposuction procedure. In contrast, nonsurgical fat-removal methods may take multiple sessions stretched over many months. While you may be able get an idea of what your new figure will look like directly after your liposuction procedure, you will probably be quite swollen for the first few days. The swelling will subside over the next weeks to months. Generally, it takes at least 3 to 6 weeks before your final, optimal results are visible.
Once the fat has been removed from your body, it will not return. That means your newly contoured shape can stay with you for the rest of your life – provided you maintain a steady weight. If you do accidentally gain a few pounds, the weight will be distributed evenly throughout your body, which means you will maintain your new proportions, although you will be bigger overall. Lose the weight and, once again, you're back in your “new” shape. However, it is important to stay as close to your ideal weight as possible. Although you will have fewer fat cells in the treated area, they can swell to accommodate extra fat when you overeat. Gain enough weight and you'll be back with a “pooch.”
OK! I'm Ready! Is Liposuction for Me?
If liposuction sounds like it could deflate your spare tire, before you meet with Dr. Garcia you should ask yourself a few questions to see if you would be a good candidate:
- Am I at or near my ideal weight?
- If I am slightly overweight, is my BMI under 30?
- Am I already committed to a healthy diet and exercise regimen?
- Am I thinking of liposuction as a body-contouring procedure rather than a weight-loss method?
- Can I afford to take off time from work to recover?
- Do I have help for my children, my pets and for myself during my recovery?
If you answered “Yes,” you may be a candidate for liposuction alone to remove your abdominal fat. However, there are two more issues that may make a tummy tuck a better option for you:
How Flabby Is Your Belly?
Sometimes a spare tire or muffin top is composed of more than just fat. If you have other issues that are causing your abdomen to look not just fat but flabby and loose, you will probably need a tummy tuck instead. Dr. Garcia will examine you to determine if:
- Your abdominal muscles have been loosened by pregnancy or inactivity.
- You have stretched-out, loose abdominal skin owing to pregnancy, weight loss and/or aging.
If you have loose skin and/or lax abdominal muscles, Dr. Garcia will probably recommend abdominoplasty to give you the flat, athletic-looking tummy you desire.
What Is a Tummy Tuck?
A tummy tuck, also known as abdominoplasty, is a surgical operation that incorporates liposuction to:
- Remove excess abdominal fat
- Tighten loose abdominal muscles
- Stretch and tighten loose abdominal skin
- Trim away excess abdominal skin
Unlike most liposuction procedures, a tummy tuck will leave a scar. Depending on how much tightening and skin stretching Dr. Garcia has to do, you will either have a scar that runs from one pubic bone to another or – if you have a mini tummy tuck – a small scar over the pubis.
Depending on how much excess fat is in your abdomen, Dr. Garcia will either remove it with liposuction during the tummy tuck surgery or schedule a separate liposuction procedure several months before your tummy tuck.
Is a Mommy Makeover Right for Me?
If you are a woman who has finished your family and you are looking to regain your youthful curves, a Mommy Makeover might be the right choice for you. While a Mommy Makeover can include any procedures you need to make yourself feel rejuvenated, healthful and energetic, the typical Mommy Makeover consists of:
- Tummy tuck
- Breast lift and/or breast augmentation
If you are considering a full Mommy Makeover, you can discuss this with Dr. Garcia during your consultation.
Make Friends With Your Mirror
When you meet with Dr. Garcia, he will look at you not only as a patient but as a beautiful work of art that just needs a few finishing touches. Because he has been trained both as a plastic surgeon and as an artist, he will create a new shape for you that harmonizes best with your own unique physique and natural proportions, based on careful measurements he will take of your body. Whether you are looking for a Mommy Makeover, a Tummy Tuck, or Liposuction in Henderson, the first step is calling Dr. Garcia for a consultation at the Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Clinic at (702) 870-0058.