Abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) is a well established and very effective operation when performed correctly. For appropriate patients, liposuction is likewise a very effective procedure for body contouring. However, when they are performed in combination the potential for complications certainly may increase. A recent study comparing rates of seroma formation in abdominoplasty found just that (Plast Reconst Surgery Vol 127, Number 1, Jan 2011, p417). Patients who underwent concurrent flank liposuction in conjunction with their abdominoplasty procedure had nearly double the rate of development of abdominal seromas. This study, which considered patients body mass index (BMI) as well, also noted that rates of seroma formation were distinctly higher in overweight patients.
Although I routinely perform a small amount of liposuction of the hips and waist in conjunction with abdominoplasties, my use of liposuction in these patients is judicious. In fact, if I believe that patients will require a large amount of liposuction (in addition to a tummy tuck) I will frequently stage the liposuction, performing it many months after the initial operation. You may not find many plastic surgeons in Los Angeles who take this approach. Although this may be less convenient for some patients, for some it ultimately may be safer.