Diet, exercise, fat freezing, fat burning, liposuction, tummy tuck… When it comes to what you might do to get rid of pesky belly folds for a slimmer look, the list is long and can be confusing. Let’s shed some light on what solution might be best for you, depending on your body type and your goals.
When Liposuction is Ideal
If you are generally happy with your weight and just want some fat removed in targeted areas such as your abdomen, thighs, or bra bulges, liposuction is a good option. It works best for patients with a BMI of 30 or below (calculate your BMI here) who are in generally good health without any underlying conditions that might delay healing.
Ideal liposuction candidates also have good skin elasticity. This is generally true for younger patients and women who have not undergone pregnancy and childbirth. But even if you have children or are older, you can have high enough skin elasticity for liposuction to yield good results. Your plastic surgeon will help you determine the preferred plan of action during a personal consultation.
Liposuction is a minimally-invasive procedure with a recovery of 1-2 days. It can be used for fat removal on a variety of areas such as upper abdomen, lower abdomen, waist, back, hips, male chest area, inner thighs, outer thighs, upper arms, chin, or neck.
When Adding Skin Tightening to Liposuction is Ideal
When we speak of liposuction, we mean a combination of various methods to get the best effect. This typically means using water- or power-assisted liposuction as well as radio frequency assisted liposuction. Each patient is unique and may need slightly different combinations for the best results.
You may be a generally good liposuction candidate (see above), except you have some sagging skin that will only become more pronounced once the fat is removed. This could be due to previous weight loss or pregnancy. In this case, your results can be improved by adding non-surgical tissue contracture (such as BodyTite or Renuvion) to your procedure to help tighten the skin, rather than relying on liposuction alone.
BodyTite and Renuvion have been shown to achieve anywhere from 35% to 60% of the skin contraction you could otherwise only get with a surgical procedure like a tummy tuck, with a much lower level of invasiveness and thereby a faster recovery. It is combined with liposuction to achieve both fat removal and tighter skin.
When Combining Skin Tightening with Glandular Excision is Ideal
While skin tightening, like liposuction, can be used on virtually any area of the body, it is particularly well suited to reduce male breasts. However, most male breast reductions yield the best results by not only extracting fat and tightening the skin, but by also excising some glandular tissue. This is a small surgical procedure that can easily be added on to the BodyTite and liposuction treatments.
Obviously a male breast reduction does not per se reduce belly fat. However, most men combine it with liposuction (with or without skin tightening) on their abdomen in a single one-time procedure.
When a Tummy Tuck is Ideal
A tummy tuck yields beautiful results. Most patients are ecstatic to come out of it with the flat stomach they’ve always dreamed of. However, the downside of a tummy tuck is its higher degree of invasiveness. It is a surgical procedure under IV sedation, and the recovery requires several weeks of much-reduced activity.
Tummy tucks are ideal for patients with a large amount of sagging belly skin that no amount of radio frequency treatment will shrink sufficiently to be bathing suit ready. If your BMI is between 30 and 40, a tummy tuck might be a better solution than liposuction. Both procedures can also be combined for improved results.
When a Weight-Loss Balloon is Ideal
When it’s more than just belly fat and your weight is the real culprit, removing belly fat isn’t going to work – or if you try, the results aren’t going to leave you satisfied. For such patients we typically advise a weight loss regimen before undergoing any skin tightening or fat removal treatments.
But as many of us know, losing weight is not an easy feat. Diet and exercise is often not enough to achieve our target weight. What if there was a way to lose 30, 50, or even more pounds in a set timeframe and not gain it back?
With Orbera, there is. It’s a simple, minimally-invasive procedure to place an inflatable, saline-filled balloon in the stomach. Over the course of 6 months, it reduces the feeling of hunger and helps the patient learn better (and lasting) eating habits, so that the weight loss achieved in 6 months is sustained permanently.
Orbera works best for BMIs between 30 and 40. Whether a tummy tuck or Orbera is better is something you should discuss with a plastic surgeon in a personal consultation. Orbera may even work for BMIs up to 41 or 42, depending on your situation. If your BMI is above that, however, we advise to enroll in a traditional weight loss program before undergoing any cosmetic surgery.
Where Non-Invasive Skin Tightening is Ideal
The above procedures vary in their degrees of invasiveness, with all of them requiring some amount of downtime and recovery. There is an entirely non-invasive alternative to those who don’t feel ready for more. Both Morpheus Body and Exilis are procedures that use external radio frequency controlled heat to shrink tissue and tighten skin (vs. a wand that is inserted under the skin for the minimally-invasive procedures described above).
If you just have small pockets of belly fat that don’t seem to warrant any of the above cosmetic procedures, you might want to start with a Morpheus or Exilis treatment to tighten up those folds. Both technologies are non-invasive and are pleasant and pain-free.
We hope we’ve helped you gain an understanding of your options for belly fat removal. To get started, contact us to schedule a consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon. Or simply schedule your own consultation by using our Nashville or Memphis self-schedule calendars.