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Can Tummy Tuck Alternatives Deliver Great Results?

Dr. Frank Campanile, Top Denver Plastic SurgeonBy Frank Campanile

Non-surgical tummy tuck alternatives are often hailed as cheaper, less invasive options that can deliver comparable results to the real thing. These claims to fame range in nature from pop-science ploys to simply less effective cosmetic procedures. The reality, however, is that these gimmicks often fall very short of actually helping anyone reach their appearance goals.

Tummy Tuck® System
Also known as the Tummy Tuck Miracle Slimming System or the Tummy Tuck Belt, this product is advertised as a cheap way to burn belly fat with minimal effort for a slimmer stomach. First a warming cream referred to as a “Thermal Accelerator” is applied to the midsection, followed by a belt. Then, according to the creators, just two minutes of standing abdominal squeezes “ignites a fat-burning chain reaction” that continues long after removal of the belt.

While the belt itself may minimize the appearance of bulges of belly fat and skin while you are actually wearing it (similar to many compression garments that are worn under the clothes), that’s about all the Tummy Tuck® System is good for. The alleged fat-burning chain reaction is not scientifically possible with only light exercises and a warming cream, and the claims of real results are not substantiated by clinical trials. Reviews of the Tummy Tuck® System are largely negative, and consumers report that the cream alone ends up costing more than the belt because the vendor automates regular deliveries of the cream once the product is purchased.

Smartlipo® is a laser lipolysis procedure. Advertisers claim that lasers used in the procedure “melt” fat from the body while simultaneously tightening the skin, delivering results comparable to a tummy tuck or liposuction. However, patients should approach the procedure with caution.

Laser alternatives to tummy tucks do not have consistent reviews and lack the extensive studies and regulations that would indicate safe, predictable results. Smartlipo® uses heat energy to destroy the membranes of fat cells. However, without a highly specific laser strength, fat cells may become merely damaged rather than destroyed, which can affect the surrounding tissue and may result in long-term bruising or pain. Furthermore, the alleged skin-tightening benefit seems to be a temporary result of swelling and immature scar formation rather than a permanent change.

Tummy Tuck Benefits
Unlike tummy tuck alternatives, abdominoplasty is a tried and true method of delivering measurable body contouring results. Not only is excess fatty tissue removed, but the abdominal muscles are also tightened and repaired, an advantage that cannot be offered by any non-surgical alternative. Finally, the skin is smoothed and tightened over the abdominal area and the belly button is repositioned for a beautiful final result. Patients interested in treating lingering pockets of subcutaneous fat can opt for a drain-free tummy tuck, which combines liposuction with a
traditional abdominoplasty.

While a tummy tuck is a surgical procedure that requires more downtime than non-invasive alternatives, it also delivers real, significant results. Furthermore, a tummy tuck delivers results as a one-time surgery rather than needing repeated treatments. Perhaps the most notable advantage of a tummy tuck, however, is that the procedure is safe, highly regulated and has a proven track record. While no surgical procedure is completely risk-free, investing in a tummy tuck alternative that has not been backed by studies or undergone thorough development is much riskier, and can result in a lot of wasted money and disappointment.