When we reach down and grab a handful of belly, our first instinct is usually to diagnose ourselves with a case of the holiday munchies and prescribe a few extra minutes on the treadmill. But our assumptions might be flawed. Because that might not be fat at all—it might be skin.
Generally, people (ourselves included) are not all that great in being able to tell the difference between excess fat and excess skin. In many ways, they look and feel similar—it just looks like something getting in the way of the chiseled abs you’re after. But there is a difference in the way the two behave.
In fact, getting rid of excess skin and excess fat require completely different (though often complimentary) approaches. That’s why we have tummy tuck and liposuction—and that’s why it’s sometimes difficult to know which one we actually need.
What Are Tummy Tucks and Liposuction For?
It’s probably not shocking that tummy tuck and liposuction are used for two different things. That’s why they have different names! When we want to get rid of some excess skin we use a tummy tuck. When we’re after that hard to target area of fat, we use liposuction. Without the highly trained eyes of a surgeon, it’s often difficult to tell (especially around the belly) what’s fat and what’s skin.
Luckily, whichever one it is, these procedures have us covered. A tummy tuck can make the belly area look tight and fit, especially in cases where that skin has been stretched. Liposuction can remove fat that, otherwise, isn’t going anywhere.
Both procedures treat issues that diet and exercise alone simply can’t (no matter how many extra minutes you spend on the treadmill). They both respond to the fact that your body is, really, way too good at saving and not nearly good enough at spending. In other words, our bodies want to stay the same. Excess skin, certain areas of excess fat, they’re here to stay unless we get plastic surgery.
One reason why it’s tough to keep liposuction and tummy tuck straight is because surgeons will often combine the two. It goes like this:
- We want to get rid of some fat: So we decide to get some liposuction. That’s good! However, whenever the body removes fat, it disturbs the skin-to-volume ratio. Suddenly we’re going to have too much skin. And if we’re removing fat from the belly area, that means that we need to do a tummy tuck too, otherwise the results just won’t look right. The tummy tuck might not be extensive, but most surgeons will perform it because otherwise we’ll be left (again) with excess skin around our belly (and that handful we don’t want).
- Normal wear and tear: Our bodies have to go through quite a bit, and sometimes that shows in the belly. (It’s irritating, we know.) And that means that in some cases, that “handful” of tissue is a frustrating combination of fat and skin. In those cases, a tummy tuck combined with liposuction is really the only way we’re going to get our desired results. We’ve got to get rid of the fat and the skin in order to look firm and fit.
Staying Healthy Is Part of the Equation
That’s not to say that our daily trips to the gym are not a significant part of the equation. As always, it’s important to remain healthy and fit. Indeed, the best time to get either liposuction or a tummy tuck is when you’re close to your ideal weight. At the very least, surgeons like to ensure that patients maintain a steady weight. No yo-yoing before surgery!
It can take a lot of work, both on and off the treadmill, to sculpt your body the way you want it. Even with tummy tuck or liposuction, that work is totally worth it!