Is Abdominoplasty With Lipo Worth It: Risks, Benefits, Prices

November 22, 2023
abdominoplastia com lipo

Every year, plastic surgeons perform more than 2.3 million liposuction and 1.1 million abdominoplasty operations worldwide[1]. These stunning numbers rank liposuction the first and abdominoplasty the fourth most popular plastic surgery procedure. In some cases, a doctor might combine abdominoplasty with lipo—and this decision has many implications, from price to recovery time. This article explains all the essential details and helps you decide whether this type of surgery is appropriate for you.

We will start by explaining what is abdominoplasty with lipo and why these procedures can be performed simultaneously. Then, we clarify the criteria that can make you a candidate for surgery and show you some examples of successful operations. It is also crucial to know how to prepare for and recover from the process and what are the risks. Finally, we reached out to Dr. Mohammed Alshehab, a board-certified surgeon from Berlin, to give answers to the most pressing questions, including how much a tummy tuck with lipo costs. Lots of information to come, so stay tuned!

What Is Abdominoplasty With Lipo?

Abdominoplasty, colloquially called “tummy tuck,” is a plastic surgery procedure that removes excess skin from the abdomen and tightens weakened abdominal muscles. We will discuss the surgical process in the insights section, but in short, a doctor would make an incision in the lower abdomen and carefully lift and trimmer the excess skin away. The size and shape of the incision can differ—a short incision is called a ‘mini tummy tuck’ and a longer one is known as a ‘full tummy tuck.’

Abdominoplasty
The anatomy of the abdominal area

Liposuction is a minimally invasive procedure that removes localized pockets of fat. To perform it, a surgeon makes small incisions in the targeted area and uses thin tubes called cannulas to remove the excess fat.

💉
Liposuction is by far the most popular plastic surgery in the world. If you are considering undergoing this surgery and need more detailed information, check out our article dedicated to liposuction.

In many cases, combining abdominoplasty with lipo enhances the aesthetic outcomes. There are 3 main goals a surgeon pursues when performing such an operation:

👤 Improve contouring

Liposuction techniques provide doctors with more ways to define body contour and make it smoother, especially in the waistline and hip areas. As a result, a patient achieves a more hourglass-like figure and an aesthetically pleasing silhouette.

🧑‍⚕️ Customize the approach

Every patient is unique, and the more a surgeon can adjust to individual body features, the better the outcome. Performing abdominoplasty with lipo allows for a customized approach that addresses specific problem areas.

Reduce surgery recovery

Performing both procedures together is often easier and more cost-effective for the patient. They only need to undergo one anesthesia, surgery, and recovery period. While the recovery after combined abdominoplasty with lipo is still significant, it may be shorter than if the procedures were conducted separately. In turn, it means that surgery causes less interruption to the patient’s regular activities.

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Now that you know the fundamentals, we will answer the first essential question, “When should I consider getting abdominoplasty with lipo?”

What Makes You a Candidate for a Surgery?

Adding liposuction to abdominoplasty is a very complex decision and can only be taken by an experienced surgeon. A doctor will conduct a thorough medical examination, plan the body contour changes, and then recommend or discourage you from an operation. Nevertheless, knowing the candidacy criteria will shape reasonable expectations and help you ask insightful questions at the doctor’s office.

The main reason to consider plastic surgery is the large amount of excess skin and fat in the abdominal area.

“We do the pinch test to assess the need for the operation—a typical candidate has more than 4 centimeters of skin and fat. They have excess skin that you can pull by hand from the umbilical toward the lower abdomen”

– says Dr. Mohammed Alshehab.

Often, the skin excess becomes noticeable after significant weight loss, pregnancy, or as a result of aging processes. Also, there are factors that a specialist has to assess before the operation:

💪 Good overall health

Surgery candidates should be in generally good health, without any medical conditions that could increase the risks associated with surgery. This includes heart disease, diabetes, and uncontrolled hypertension. It is still possible to perform an operation if a person has some of these issues, but the surgeon would have to adapt his approach and monitor the patient’s health very closely.

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⚖️ Stable weight

A patient must have a stable and healthy weight. Keep in mind, that abdominoplasty and liposuction are not weight loss procedures, but rather body contouring surgeries. Dr. Alshehab notes that the operation should not be performed if the patient’s BMI is 28 or more.

🚭 No heavy smoking or drinking

Usually, a medical specialist asks patients to quit smoking sometime before any surgery, not only abdominoplasty with lipo. Smoking and heavy drinking can interfere with the body’s ability to heal, affect blood coagulation, and ultimately compromise the results of the surgery.

Abdominoplasty With Lipo: Before and After

Let us now take a look at a couple of examples of surgeries that managed to transform patients’ appearance in dramatic ways. The photos come from the website of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. On the left are pre-operative, and on the right are post-operative photos.

A successful abdominoplasty with lipo a year after the operation. Note how the surgeon was able to change the body contour.
A successful abdominoplasty with lipo a year after the operation. Note how the surgeon was able to change the body contour. 
This patient wanted to reshape the abdominal area after pregnancy. Concomitant liposuction was used in this procedure.
This patient wanted to reshape the abdominal area after pregnancy. Concomitant liposuction was used in this procedure.
As we said, abdominoplasty with or without lipo can be performed on the male body as well.
As we said, abdominoplasty with or without lipo can be performed on the male body as well.
abdominoplastia
And this patient had a condition called
diastasis fixed by abdominoplasty with umbilical translocation.

How To Prepare for and Recover From the Operation?

Preparing for the Operation

When you come to the doctor’s office for the first time, you do not expect to get surgery tomorrow. Not only because a doctor might not have available time slots, but also because a patient needs time to implement all the medical recommendations. Usually, a patient needs to complete several medical evaluations, make lifestyle adjustments (like quitting smoking), and, sometimes, start taking food supplements.

In the case of abdominoplasty with lipo, a surgeon redirects the patient to a radiologist’s office to do the ultrasound test of the abdomen. It is done to exclude the possibility of hernia. You should also expect standard blood testing procedures and several other physical evaluations depending on your condition.

A mismatch between expectations and post-surgical reality can be a tough psychological blow. Therefore, building realistic expectations is an essential aspect of the pre-surgery period. While the operation itself is painless, you need to be prepared for moderate pain that lasts for a few days after surgery. At large, it is the job of a surgeon to explain the possible aesthetic outcomes, risks, and long-term implications of the operation. In this regard, seeing before and after photos is very helpful, but, of course, each patient has individual characteristics, and only a qualified surgeon can make reliable post-surgery predictions.

Achieving optimal outcomes is a patient’s responsibility as well, so now, we will discuss the aftercare process and things you need to do to ensure that recovery goes smoothly.

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Recovery Timeline

It is crucial to follow the surgeon’s instructions during every stage of the recovery process. A typical post-surgery timeline can look as follows:

Stage 1: Initial recovery

The first 5 days after the surgery are the toughest and the most important for the patient’s well-being because of complicated movement and unpleasant levels of pain. A patient is required to wear compression garments to minimize swelling and support the healing process. Also, a doctor can place drains under the skin to collect excess fluids. These will need to be emptied according to the instructions.

Dr. Alshehab told us that he recommends his patients start taking showers from the second day after the surgery.

“I think it is a big factor in the patient’s healing. If they can shower, they will feel fresh, and ultimately, it will help their wounds heal better. It is part of my philosophy. During the five years I performed these operations, I have never had any problems related to the water itself”

– says Dr. Mohammed Alshehab.

Stage 2: Continued recovery

Usually, most of the pain goes away by the 10th day after the surgery. Swelling and bruising decrease, though some swelling may persist for several weeks. The patient can gradually increase the activity and start taking care of the scar, which may include using silicone sheets or creams.

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Stage 3: Mid-term recovery

After ten days, patients are usually fit to do all kinds of activities they want, except heavy weight lifting. After four weeks, doing sports is not just possible, but is encouraged. The scars will continue to fade and flatten, but be careful with exposure to direct sunlight. Also, keep wearing the compression garment until Week 8.

Stage 4: Long-term implications

Abdominoplasty with lipo is an operation that has significant long-term implications for the patient’s lifestyle. As Dr. Alshehab puts it, “Such surgery is a game-changer for the patient because, after the procedure, they need to start doing some kind of physical activity. Don’t be aggressive, but try to do sports sessions two or three times a week. I would say that I do 40% of the job—the remaining 60% depends on the patient.

😴 Verdict:
Recovery and pain management are extremely important topics that deserve separate coverage. If you want to gain more confidence with this aspect of surgery, feel free to explore our related article.

Surgical Risks and Safety Measures

Some risks are inherent to any surgery, but some are characteristic of abdominal surgery. Generally, surgery always carries a risk of intensive bleeding during the operation. A surgeon always assesses the likelihood of such complications by determining blood coagulation before the procedure. Other risks include scarring and a chance of infection. If the doctor chooses the right size of the incision and experiences no bleeding issues—the scarring will become practically invisible after the full recovery. Other good news is that infections are very rare and can be easily mitigated by regular antibiotics.

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At the same time, abdominoplasty with lipo comes with more specific risks, such as seroma, skin necrosis, and thrombosis.

  • Seroma

Seroma, which is a collection of fluid under the skin, is a frequent problem, but it can be dealt with by proper aftercare—if the patient drains the liquid as instructed, seroma will reduce gradually and pose no serious threat.

  • Skin necrosis 

There is a chance to damage tissues responsible for the blood supply to the abdominal skin when performing liposuction, which can cause skin necrosis. It used to be a serious issue before, but modern technology advancements do a great job of mitigating this risk, and we will discuss those later in the article.

  • Thrombosis

Thrombosis is a condition of blood clots forming in the veins, which can pose a very serious threat. However, surgeons can prevent these complications by using blood thinner medications and compression stockings during the operation.

Overall, abdominoplasty with lipo is considered a remarkably safe procedure, as was confirmed by several longitudinal studies[2].

Insights from a Specialist

Dr. Alshehab, who has more than a decade of experience in the field and performs abdominoplasty with lipo almost every week, kindly agreed to provide us with an insider perspective on the procedure, and we have a couple of insights we would like to share with you!

Insights from a Specialist

Surgical Approach and Cutting-Edge Technology

There have been several technological advancements in the fields of abdominal surgery and liposuction that helped minimize the risks (especially the risk of skin necrosis). One of the most prominent improvements is the VASER technology[3]. Dr. Alshehab has lots of experience with it and praises the technology,

“VASER is an ultrasound liposuction method. It allows me to preserve the connective tissue while removing the fat effectively. Even if I only need to remove a small amount of fat, I still use VASER because it gives me more mobility in the connective tissue.”

Cost of Abdominoplasty With Lipo

First of all, abdominoplasty with lipo is not a simple or short procedure (in fact, it can last up to 5 hours). But many other factors influence the price of lipoabdominoplasty. When asked about the cost breakdown, Dr. Alshehab explained that the final number depends on the patient’s individual features, like BMI, the need for fat transfer, or stronger anesthesia. Of course, the price also depends on the country, but it is unlikely to be less than $7,000 (R$35,000 or €6,600).

Summary

Abdominoplasty with lipo, a combination of two popular plastic surgery procedures, offers enhanced aesthetic options for body contouring. Not every patient needs it, though, so we started by discussing the candidacy criteria in detail. The before and after abdominoplasty with lipo section is helpful to build realistic expectations while knowing about surgery risks and their mitigation works as a confidence booster.

To achieve successful aesthetic outcomes, you should follow the pre- and aftercare instructions we discuss here and in an article about the recovery process. Finally, insights shared by a board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Mohammed Alshehab, among other things, answered a question about the cost of abdominoplasty with lipo, which is, of course, a decisive factor for many patients.

We hope the reading was informative, and you learned the most important things that will facilitate your aesthetic transformation!

FAQ

🧐 Can I Have an Abdominoplasty and Lipo Together?

Yes, you can! Abdominoplasty with lipo works well for patients who have excess skin and fat in the abdominal area. It is often better to perform these two procedures simultaneously rather than separately.

💰 How Much Does Abdominoplasty With Lipo Cost?

The cost of abdominoplasty with lipo depends on a variety of factors, including the patient’s weight, country, and type of abdominoplasty. You can, however, expect the price to be around $7,000 (R$35,000 or €6,600)

😱 What Are the Risks of Having an Abdominoplasty and Lipo?

Common risks for any type of surgery include bleeding, scarring, and infection. The doctors also take measures to prevent issues like seroma, skin necrosis, thrombosis, etc.

⏰ How Long Does It Take To Recover From Abdominoplasty With Lipo?

Each person’s experience is different, but usually, the full recovery from abdominoplasty with lipo takes between 4 months and a year.

⚖️ How Many Kilos Do You Lose After Abdominoplasty With Lipo?

The weight of the fat removed by abdominoplasty with lipo is between 1,5 and 4,5 kilograms. However, keep in mind, that it is not a weight loss surgery, but a body contouring procedure.

References

[1] International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. (2022). ISAPS International survey on aesthetic/cosmetic procedures performed in 2022. https://www.isaps.org/media/a0qfm4h3/isaps-global-survey_2022.pdf

[2] Brauman, D., van der Hulst, R. R. W. J., & van der Lei, B. (2018). Liposuction Assisted Abdominoplasty: An Enhanced Abdominoplasty Technique. Plastic and reconstructive surgery. Global open, 6(9), e1940.

[3] Hoyos, A., Perez, M. E., Guarin, D. E., & Montenegro, A. (2018). A report of 736 high-definition lipoabdominoplasties performed in conjunction with circumferential VASER liposuction. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, 142(3), 662-675.

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