Liposuction is a cosmetic surgical procedure that slims and reshapes targeted areas of the body. It does this by breaking up and suctioning out stubborn fat deposits that resist diet and exercise.
Liposuction can treat the neck, cheeks, chin, upper arms, breasts, back, abdomen, waist, hips, thighs, buttocks, knees, and calves. The procedure is, however, not a weight-loss tool. It also doesn’t remove cellulite, stretch marks, or dimples.
In this article, I will discuss stomach liposuction. The tummy is a common problem area, especially for women after childbirth.
Liposuction can help remove excess fat stored in your midsection, improving its appearance. Read on to learn more.
What Is Abdominal or Stomach Liposuction?
Abdominal or stomach liposuction is the liquifying and suctioning out of localized fat cells in a specific area of your abdomen. The procedure aims to flatten your belly and enhance its contour.
Stomach liposuction only addresses subcutaneous fat. Subcutaneous fat is the jiggly, pinchable fat stored just beneath the skin.
It’s generally harmless and, according to several studies, may even have a protective role against blunt trauma, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases (CVDs).
For visceral fat, i.e., the fat found inside your abdominal cavity and which surrounds your internal organs, it cannot be suctioned out.
Only proper diet and exercise can safely and effectively combat this kind of fat.
Types of Stomach Liposuction
There are various liposuction techniques surgeons use today. Those commonly used for abdominal liposuction are:
The tumescent technique is the most popular. It involves injecting a medical solution into the abdominal region requiring treatment.
The fluid contains a saline solution, a local anesthetic (lidocaine), and a vasoconstrictive agent (epinephrine).
The anesthetic solution hydrates the excess fat, making it easy to suction out using a cannula attached to a vacuum pump. Tumescent liposuction allows for the removal of large volumes of fat with minimal bruising and blood loss.
Radiofrequency-Assisted Liposuction (RFAL)
RFAL is a minimally invasive procedure, which doesn’t require general anesthesia. The surgeon uses a cannula with an internal electrode that emits radiofrequency energy into the belly fatty tissue to liquefy fat and suction it from the body.
An Animated Video showing BodyTite RFAL procedure.
The radiofrequency waves also flow to an external electrode resting atop the skin, which heats the papillary dermis without harming the skin’s surface.
The heat encourages collagen production, causing the belly skin to tighten and become more toned.
Who Is a Good Candidate for Stomach Liposuction?
A good candidate for stomach liposuction:
- Is physically fit and within 30% of your healthy weight range
- Does not have a condition that could increase your risk of surgical complications
- Has good skin elasticity and muscle tone
- Is a nonsmoker
- Has realistic expectations about the procedure
How Much Does Stomach Liposuction Cost?
The cost of stomach liposuction varies depending on the size of your abdomen, your surgeon’s expertise, the geographic location of the facility, and the type of liposuction used.
Be sure to ask about add-on costs you may incur after the fact, including
- Anesthesia fees
- Hospitalization costs
- Operating room costs
- Medical tests costs
- Costs of prescribed medications
- Surgeon’s fee
Most health insurance plans will not help pay for abdominal liposuction. However, you can help offset the cost if you:
- Shop around and compare average prices in your region. According to the latest statistics by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the average cost of liposuction is $3,637.
- Choose a plastic surgeon that offers patient financing. Doing so allows you to make small monthly payments over time.
- Bundle several procedures into one. For instance, you can combine stomach liposuction with a tummy tuck, which will significantly reduce your overall costs.
Risks of Stomach Liposuction
Liposuction of the stomach can result in various risks and complications, which your surgeon will discuss with you before your procedure. The possible side effects fall into three categories:
- Risks during the procedure: shock, adverse complications, organ puncture, burn injuries if the liposuction technique uses heat, nerve damage, and death.
- Risks after the procedure: bruising, swelling, infection, adverse reactions to anesthesia or medication, blood clots, bleeding, fluid accumulation, fat embolism, heart, lung, and kidney complications, and death.
- Risks during recovery: skin contour and pigmentation irregularities, persistent bruising, swelling, or numbness, impaired wound healing, infection, scarring, and need for revision surgery.
The likelihood of experiencing complications following abdominal liposuction depends on the size of the treatment area, your surgeon’s expertise, and if you’ll have multiple procedures done in a single surgical session.
What To Expect
Before Abdominal Liposuction
You will usually have a consultation with your chosen board-certified plastic surgeon before the procedure. During the appointment, you will discuss various things, including:
- Your surgical goals
- Any medical conditions or drug allergies you may have
- Medications, supplements, and herbal medicine you’re currently using
- Whether you’ve had previous surgeries or liposuction procedures
- The appropriate liposuction technique for you
- Possible risks and complications of the procedure
Use this time to ask relevant questions and ensure you understand the answers. By the end of the consultation, you should have a good understanding of what stomach liposuction can and cannot achieve and potential risks associated with the procedure.
To confirm that you’re fit for surgery, your surgeon may also ask you to get a physical examination, lab tests, and a psychological evaluation before the procedure. The surgeon may also recommend that you:
- Stop taking certain medications such as blood thinners, NSAIDs like aspirin, and contraceptives.
- Start taking certain medications or supplements. For instance, if you have anemia, your surgeon may recommend taking iron supplements.
- Adjust the dosages of medications you are using.
- Stop smoking.
When preparing for liposuction, be mindful of what you eat as well. A healthy diet, especially one rich in antioxidants and water, can help boost healing after surgery and increase skin elasticity.
Liposuction procedures take place in a hospital, an ambulatory surgical center, or an office-based surgical facility.
Ensure to arrange for someone to drive you home and stay with you for at least the first night if hospitalized after the procedure.
During Abdominal Liposuction
Abdominal liposuction typically includes the following steps:
- An anesthesiologist or a CRNA administers general anesthesia, local anesthesia, or IV sedation to you. The choice of anesthesia depends on factors such as the liposuction technique the surgeon will use.
- The surgeon makes tiny, inconspicuous incisions where a cannula gets inserted. A cannula is a small tube used to break up and suction out the fat cells. The method used to dislodge the fat depends on the technique used.
- After successfully removing the excess fat, your surgeon will stitch the incisions. But in some cases, the incisions are left open and small drainage tubes inserted to drain excess fluid and blood. The drains are usually removed a few days after surgery.
Stomach liposuction procedures typically take several hours to complete. But you’ll spend more than a few hours in the hospital or surgical facility, even overnight, depending on the type and scope of your procedure.
If you’re dehydrated or in hypovolemic shock due to fluid loss, you will need intravenous fluid replacement, a blood transfusion, or both.
After Abdominal Liposuction (Recovery)
Your surgeon will likely require that you wear a compression garment on the defatted area during recovery for various reasons, including:
- To reduce bleeding immediately after surgery
- To lessen swelling during recovery
- To help the excess fluid drain out of the treated area faster
You may need to wear a compression garment for up to 6 weeks.
Shortly after the procedure, you will experience some mild discomfort and pain. You will also likely notice bruising and swelling. Swelling can take months to go away completely, but most of it will subside in six weeks.
Prescribed and over-the-counter pain medications and anti-inflammatory drugs will help manage the pain and swelling. You may also be given or prescribed antibiotics after the procedure to help reduce the risk of infection.
Some patients may also experience numbness or a tingling sensation in the area of treatment for weeks after the surgery. Numbness may be permanent in the event of nerve damage.
Unless you have a physically demanding job, you should be able to return to work 1-2 days after the procedure.
It may take a few weeks before your surgeon gives you the all-clear to engage in strenuous activities and exercise.
You will leave the hospital with specific post-operative instructions, including when to go for follow-up appointments and how to care for the incision sites. Be sure to follow these instructions to speed up your healing process and to get the desired results.
Stomach Liposuction Results
Do not expect to see the results immediately after your procedure. If anything, the treated area may appear fuller due to fluid retention and swelling.
It could be months before the swelling disappears completely. But as it gradually subsides, you will begin to see the results of your stomach liposuction. The final results will be apparent within 1-3 months of the procedure.
Liposuction permanently removes the fat cells from your belly region, so results tend to be long-lasting.
However, weight gain can cause the remaining fat cells to grow, comprising your results. To maintain your tummy’s improved contour, you will need to commit to a healthy lifestyle.
Abdominal liposuction can help you achieve your desired midsection appearance by removing stubborn fat deposits. Having a realistic understanding of what the procedure can do and its limitations makes the results more satisfactory. To sustain your new look, exercise regularly and eat healthy foods.
- American Society of Plastic Surgeons: Liposuction. (n.d). plasticsurgery.org/cosmetic-procedures/liposuction
- American Society of Plastic Surgeons: Liposuction Handbook. (n.d). plasticsurgery.org/documents/Patient-Education/Liposuction-Handbook.pdf
- Mayo Clinic staff (2021): Liposuction Overview. mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/liposuction/about/pac-20384586
- MedlinePlus: Liposuction (n.d). medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002985.htm
- Medical News Today (January 5, 2018). What are the benefits and risks of liposuction? medicalnewstoday.com/articles/180450
- American Society of Plastic Surgeons: What you need to know about your liposuction recovery. (n.d). plasticsurgery.org/news/blog/what-you-need-to-know-about-your-liposuction-recovery