What is the Difference Between Abdominoplasty and Lipectomy?


Dr Bernard Beldholm

Like many men and women, you want to remove excess skin and fat from your tummy area or somewhere else on your body. If you are confused about the difference between abdominoplasty and lipectomy, you have come to the right place.

Today, Dr. Bernard Beldholm, a specialist surgeon in Australia experienced in body contouring, reveals everything you need to know about abdominoplasty and lipectomy.

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A lipectomy is a plastic surgery method that removes fat and skin. You can get a lipectomy nearly anywhere on your body, including common trouble spots like the back of your arms, inner thighs, hips, belly, and more. If you get a tummy tuck, that is technically a lipectomy of the tummy.

Lipectomy basics and origins

Lipectomy is a term that applies to a range of surgeries that removes loose tissue. The word comes from Lipo-, which is the Greek word for fat, and -ectomy, meaning to cut something out of the body. So the word “lipectomy” means cutting out fat.

Plastic surgeons & Cosmetic surgeons normally use this to mean trimming away fat and loose skin. This results in improved tightness of the skin and removal of unwanted fat for a slimmer, toned physique.

A lipectomy can be performed on  the abdomen, back of the arms, inner thighs, and more. There are even specialized names for each type of lipectomy. For example, brachioplasty (arm lift) is a lipectomy of fat and skin on the upper arms. An abdominoplasty is a lipectomy of the abdomen. An inner thigh lift is a lipectomy of the inner thigh area.

Lipectomy of the abdomen aka abdominoplasty

While you can get a lipectomy to remove fat virtually anywhere on the body, one of the most popular treatment areas is the tummy. A tummy tuck is technically a type of lipectomy, but as a surgeon, when I think of lipectomy, I think of simple skin and fat removal.

Tummy Tuck Lipectomy Type

The truth is, most tummy tucks I perform do far more than simply remove skin and fat.

When I perform a Lipo-abdominoplasty, for example, I do extensive VASER liposuction, remove loose skin, tighten the abdominal muscles if needed. If it were truly just a lipectomy, all I would be doing is removing skin and fat.

However, I would consider a classic abdominoplasty where there is no liposuction and no tightening of the abdominal muscles to be more of a simple lipectomy. See the difference?

Here’s another example. I consider an apronectomy a true lipectomy. An apronectomy involves cutting away unwanted skin and fat that hangs over the lower abdomen, a common problem after weight loss. This operation is usually much simpler than the Lipo-abdominoplasty that I do.

Types of lipectomy

Getting a lipectomy is great for trimming away excess skin and fat on your body. If you have a moderate amount of fat and loose skin to remove, lipectomy is a great option. You can get the procedure done on various body parts, making it one of the more versatile body contouring surgeries.

Is my Tummy Tuck Covered opt

For post weight loss patients who are eligible for a tummy tuck rebate, you can refer to the MBS Schedule. Note that on the MBS, all post weight loss surgeries listed are referred to as lipectomies. For example, a body lift is called a circumferential lipectomy.

I’ll be happy to help walk you through it all when you come in to discuss your body contouring goals with me, but here is the gist of the common types of lipectomies you may see on the MBS:

Belt lipectomy

This procedure is for removing excess fat and skin along your waist or “belt” line. Normally reserved for major weight loss patients, a belt lipectomy can transform your body by removing a bulk of extra fatty tissue all the way around your midsection.

Circumferential lipectomy

Also known as a lower body lift, the circumferential lipectomy can give spectacular results. The skin and fat is cut all the way around your abdomen, from the front to the back. That also means you will have a surgical scar that goes all the way around the abdomen. A body lift is a major procedure usually reserved for patients who are post major weight loss.

Major weight loss lipectomy

Major weight loss lipectomy is often the next step after sleeve gastrectomy or lap band surgery. In Australia, the MBS schedule can cover some of these operations for post weight loss patients.

Patients who have lost a significant amount of weight often have extra fat and skin. The arms, back, legs and thighs, flanks, and belly love to store excess fat. Major weight loss lipectomy is a total body overhaul that can remove these trouble spots on many parts of your body at once.

Treating multiple areas at one time can give you an extreme makeover. It is safe to have simultaneous procedures. The benefit of treating more than one area is reduced surgical costs since you only have to pay the surgical fees one time, and you will only have to take time off work once rather than multiple times, as would be needed with separate surgeries.

Arm lift

Lipectomy of the arms is known as an arm lift. It is also called brachioplasty. Are you thinking of getting an arm lift in Australia?

Inner thigh lift

Lipectomy of the inner thigh is known as an inner thigh lift. The inner thighs are a common trouble spot since this area easily holds onto extra fat. It can make your thighs rub together and cause chafing, which can be irritating and uncomfortable. Not to mention, shopping for pants is hard when you have full thighs. An inner thigh lift takes care of that by surgically removing fat from this area.

Abdominoplasty aka tummy tuck

A classic abdominoplasty is a type of lipectomy, meaning it removes both fat and skin from your belly. As mentioned earlier, I offer more advanced tummy tuck options that go beyond simple skin and fat removal.

Every patient is different, so if you are not sure what kind of tummy tuck you need, come in and see me. You may only need a simple lipectomy to remove a hanging flap of skin covering your lower abdomen, or you may opt for a more extensive procedure with Vaser lipo etc.

Causes of extra loose skin

Major weight loss and post pregnancy patients know all too well that loose skin is hard to get rid of. Your skin has elastin in it, a component that allows your skin to stretch. Aging, weight gain, and pregnancy all stretch skin to its limits. The skin can only bounce back so much afterwards.

The older you get, the less elastin your skin produces. That makes it even harder for stretched skin to snap back to its original position. As a result, the skin can appear loose, textured, and saggy. That can be frustrating, especially after you worked hard to get in shape.

Types of abdominoplasty

There are many types of tummy tuck surgeries. In this article, we will discuss the five main types of tummy tucks.

Full tummy tuck

A classic tummy tuck removes extra fat and tightens loose skin on your central abdominal region. Dr. Beldholm can even repair torn abdominal muscles during the procedure. It is basically a lipectomy of the abdominal wall.

Full tummy tucks are great for patients who have had a baby or have lost major weight through diet, exercise, or surgery. It can flatten your tummy and give you a slimmer silhouette. This operation can be combined with liposuction or VASER liposuction on the tummy for even smoother results and better fat refinement.

Extended tummy tuck

An extended tummy tuck is like a full tummy tuck, but it extends further around your midline. It addresses not just your tummy, but your hips, flanks and thighs as well, if needed.

Like a tummy tuck, it can also repair split ab muscles, also known as abdominis recti. This is a common complication after pregnancy, but can also occur in post weight loss patients. A gap between your ab muscles is not aesthetically pleasing, and most tummy tuck surgeries can take care of it.

An extended tummy tuck may leave a longer scar than a classic tummy tuck, since some patients have more fat and skin to remove around their middle and sides.

Fleur-de-lis tummy tuck

Fleur de lis abdominoplasty

fleur-de-lis surgery is for post weight loss patients. If you’ve lost a significant amount of weight, a regular tummy tuck might not be enough to flatten your abdominal area. Instead, Dr Beldholm may recommend that you get a fleur-de-lis tummy tuck.

This helps tighten the abdominal skin both vertically and horizontally. It can also repair torn abdominal muscles if needed.

Mini Tummy Tuck

This one is very popular among new mums. If you have had a C-section, most pregnant women are left with a flap of loose skin below the belly button.

A mini tummy tuck can take care of that. It’s not just for women who have had children, though. If you lost a moderate amount of weight, you may have a flap of extra skin and/or fat in the same area. A mini tummy tuck can remove it surgically. It has a smaller scar than other types of tummy tucks.

Deciding to get body contouring

It’s important to understand when it is suitable to get an abdominoplasty and/or lipectomy of other body parts.

Are they weight loss surgeries?

No. Abdominoplasty and lipectomy are not substitutes for weight loss surgery. Examples of major weight loss surgery includes bariatric surgery or gastric bypass. These are designed for patients who have an extreme amount of weight to lose, and who have committed to a healthy lifestyle change.

Body contouring surgery is just that. It refines the body contours after you have already lost the weight. For this reason, if you have a lot of weight to lose still, diet and exercise or weight loss surgery should be done before body contouring.

Can you get an abdominoplasty or lipectomy to lose fat instead of dieting?

While both surgeries remove excess fat, they are no substitute for diet changes. Eating healthy, reducing your calorie intake, and regular exercise can help get you to your goal weight.

For many people, this is easier said than done. You must commit to changing your eating habits and working out if you want to lose weight. This can sometimes be difficult for new mums, patients who have substantial weight to lose, and busy professionals, especially those with sedentary office jobs.

However, the results of lifestyle change are well worth it. Not only will you be healthier and more attractive, but you will feel great about yourself for reaching your physical goals. It can be very rewarding.

Download our short guide: “Preparing for your Abdominoplasty Surgery Checklist”

Preparing for your Tummy Tuck Surgery

Body contouring 101

Body contouring surgery like abdominoplasty and various lipectomies are great for refining fat and skin that’s leftover after losing weight.

Who is a good candidate for a tummy tuck or lipectomy?

Dr. Beldholm recommends abdominoplasty for patients who wish to remove extra fat and skin. The importance of being at a stable weight cannot be overstated. If you get the procedure only to pack on the kilos again, you’ll be right where you started. Given the expense and downtime, surgical body contouring is only appropriate for patients who are committed to maintaining their goal weight.

When should I get a lipectomy or abdominoplasty?

When you have reached a stable weight, that is the time to get body contouring. If you are still in the process of losing weight, or your weight is still fluctuating more than a few kilos, you aren’t ready for body contouring just yet.

Body contouring can help refine extra fat and skin once you have reached your goal weight through diet, exercise, or weight loss surgery, and you have remained stable at that weight for about six months or longer.

Also, if you have a baby and plan to get pregnant in the future, you should wait until you’ve had your last child. This isn’t a safety issue, since neither procedure impacts fertility. Rather, it is because your skin will stretch each time you get pregnant. It isn’t worth your time or money to get body contouring if you haven’t finished bearing children. You’ll put the weight right back on with each pregnancy.

Think of body contouring as the last stop on your weight loss journey. First comes diet, exercise, and a commitment to being healthy. Then comes body contouring, where the remaining stubborn fat and loose skin are removed.

Are you considering a tummy tuck in Australia?

Check out real patients photos from Dr. Bernard Beldholm here. Viewing patient photos is helpful for getting a realistic picture of what your results might look like. Dr. Beldholm and his caring team would be thrilled to help you reach your body contouring goals.

You can schedule a consultation if you are interested in learning more about what your options are for body contouring.

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30 Belmore Rd
Lorn NSW 2320


This website contains adult content. You must be 18 years or over to read. All surgery carries risks. You should seek a second opinion before proceeding. Results vary from patient to patient. See our disclaimer.
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