Do Tummy Tuck Alternatives Work?

Woman showing off her slim stomach

Type “tummy tuck alternatives” into a search engine, and you’ll quickly find yourself sifting through all sorts of treatments that promise to flatten your midsection. Belts, creams, and specialized compression garments are among the “miracle” options, in addition to more standard plastic surgery procedures, such as liposuction. At our Palo Alto and San Jose area locations, patients often ask if these alternatives work.

The short answer is no, at least for patients who have excess, sagging abdominal skin that makes them self-conscious about wearing swimsuits or undressing in front of a spouse or partner. You’ll be greatly disappointed if you believe any of these nonsurgical treatments will provide the desired results.

Why don’t these treatments work? To understand, it’s important to know the reasons people get abdominoplasty (tummy tuck surgery) and why liposuction is often combined with a tummy tuck—but not performed as an alternative. We’ll also explain that some nonsurgical treatments can be effective for the right patients.

What Is a Tummy Tuck?

Skin stretched by pregnancy or other types of weight gain often loses its ability to shrink back to the body’s new contours after weight loss. That’s because the skin loses its elasticity when expanded for a long period of time. Once that elasticity is lost, no amount of dieting or exercise can tighten the loose skin.

During abdominoplasty, a plastic surgeon removes this excess skin by making an incision that extends from one hip to the other and then pulling tight the excess skin and removing it. Liposuction is often used to remove pockets of fat and to ensure the results appear smooth and natural. A tummy tuck can also remove a “belly pooch” caused by weakened abdomen muscles being stretched apart—a condition called diastasis recti. Surgeons suture these muscles together during abdominoplasty. Take a look at some of my patients’ results below.

Tummy Tuck Case 63 Before & After View #1 | San Jose & Palo Alto, CA | Daryl K. Hoffman, MD
Before & After Tummy Tuck Surgery
Tummy Tuck Case 36 Before & After View #1 | San Jose & Palo Alto, CA | Daryl K. Hoffman, MD
Before & After Tummy Tuck Surgery
Tummy Tuck Case 35 Before & After View #1 | San Jose & Palo Alto, CA | Daryl K. Hoffman, MD
Before & After Tummy Tuck Surgery

Why Don’t Alternatives Work?

Special belts, creams, and garments that promise to produce visible results don’t come close to the transformative changes produced by tummy tucks. You can see these compelling tummy tuck results in before-and-after photos featuring some of our actual patients.

Some topical treatments may temporarily tighten lax skin, but not in a way that would have any effect for people with excess skin and fat. These procedures often target fat, which shrinks and expands based on a person’s diet and exercise habits. Loose skin remains loose skin, regardless of a person’s lifestyle.

When Can You Benefit From a Nonsurgical Approach?

Women and men who retain some skin elasticity but have unwanted fat are good candidates for non-invasive treatments such as CoolSculpting® or SculpSure®. CoolSculpting isn’t designed to tighten skin. Instead, it targets localized fat pockets, “freezing” them until they die and are naturally removed from the body. In contrast, SculpSure uses laser-generated heat to damage the fat cells, which the body metabolizes and flushes from the body over time.

Which Treatment Is Best for You?

A physical exam conducted by a board-certified plastic surgeon is the only way to know for sure which approach is best for your aesthetic concerns. You can contact us using the online form to request a consultation or call us at (650) 325-1118 (Palo Alto) or (408) 371-1118 (Campbell) to schedule an appointment.

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