Excess deposits of fat can be found in many places within the abdomen. They are found in the layer between the skin and the muscles of the abdominal wall. This is the layer that can be pinched between the fingers as a roll. Fat is also deposited deep inside the muscle layer. This fat is referred to as visceral fat and is found in association with our gut and the area behind it.
Other than fat deposits, laxity of the abdominal wall can contribute to protuberance. Laxity of the abdomen can be seen as a result of changes due to aging and pregnancy. A separation of the abdominal muscles in the midline, known as divarication is often seen in such individuals. Some of the above-mentioned deformities can be tackled with the help of plastic surgery. The modalities used for correction include procedures such as liposuction and abdominoplasty.
Liposuction involves suction of fat with the help of small cannulas inserted through the skin. Fat is aspirated with the help of a vacuum producing device. Advantages of this procedure include the treatment of relatively large areas with the help of tiny incisions. Patients usually recover fast and are ambulant as soon as they are awake from the effects of anesthesia. It does not involve a prolonged stay in hospital. Liposuction targets only fat that is superficial to the abdominal muscles. We are not able to access the deep or visceral fat with liposuction. Another limitation of liposuction is that it does not address the laxity of the abdominal wall or skin.
Abdominoplasty translates into reshaping the abdomen. During an abdominoplasty, we tighten the layer of the muscles. This helps tackle the laxity of the muscle layer. Liposuction is often carried out as a part of abdominoplasty. Liposuction is used to reduce the fat deposits on the flanks and in the upper abdomen. This improves the appearance and increases the safety of the procedure by limiting the areas of surgical dissection. We also reduce the excess skin as an ellipse from the lower abdomen. The rest of the skin is draped to result in a tighter-looking abdomen. As with liposuction, abdominoplasty can't address the visceral fat.
A clinical examination helps reveal the cause of the deformity and arrive at a treatment plan. Ideal candidates for both the procedures include patients close to their ideal body weight. They should be non-smokers and have reasonable expectations about the procedure. It is also important to be aware of what can be achieved using plastic surgery. We can achieve a reduction in the fat deposits that are external to the muscles and obtain a tightening of the muscle-fascia layer and skin. Plastic surgery does not address the visceral fat. And because of this, patients need to adopt a dietary and exercise regimen to maintain appropriate levels of visceral fat.