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Christopher K. Patronella, MD, FACS, FICS homepage


Looking At the Body as a Whole: A 3-D Approach to Body Contouring

Posted June 11, 2015 in Body Contouring, Liposuction, Mommy Makeover, Tummy Tuck

By Dr. Christopher Patronella
Houston plastic surgeon

When I look at a woman’s body during a cosmetic plastic surgery consultation, I’m viewing  the body as a whole. For example, a prospective patient may be primarily focused on restoring a firm, flat pre-baby appearance to her abdomen after childbearing, citing loose abdominal skin and/or a tummy pooch as her main aesthetic concerns.

But if she gained 40 pounds during pregnancy, other areas in addition to the abdomen underwent stretching that resulted in excess skin and sagging. Patients such as this often also have waviness in the outer thighs and hips. I might have them look in the mirror and show them that I can lift the buttocks and outer thighs as well, and it will give them a better overall appearance.

This is a 3-dimensional concept. The individual may be focused on one thing, but it’s my duty to explain how doing a tummy tuck or other plastic surgery procedure will impact their overall body contour, discussing if adjacent areas should be treated to optimize the overall result. If the person’s goal is to look better in a swimsuit, and they have a roll of fat on their hips, I might fall short of meeting their expectations if this or another area is not addressed in conjunction with the primary concern. It’s my duty to educate them. The results we are trying to achieve will appear more authentic if it’s blended with adjacent areas.

One of the most obvious examples of this would be to perform a tummy tuck procedure without  also giving attention to the waist, so that the abdomen appears flat and markedly improved, but the patient’s love handles are now more noticeable. It would appear unnatural and imbalanced to have a flat toned abdomen and a loose, flabby waist because this does not happen in nature. This scenario would create a disconnect, giving the abdomen a surgical appearance. While the decision ultimately rests in the patient’s realm, it’s my responsibility to review how one procedure can affect an adjacent area that may need contouring for a natural-looking result.

In my experience, the majority of the women I see in consultations want to know my opinion and tend to have an open attitude to what I perceive and how I can make them look better and more well-balanced overall. As in any artistic endeavor, attention to details such as proportion, composition, and contour lines is necessary to create harmony and the most ideal aesthetic outcome possible.

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