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SmartLipo vs. Tummy Tuck Surgery: Kelly’s Story

Posted December 30, 2014 in Liposuction, Tummy Tuck

By Sherri Roberts

Dr. Chris Patronella frequently performs revision surgery to correct the poor aesthetic outcome that results when patients who needed a tummy tuck received SmartLipo or other methods of liposuction instead. “You’re taking fat out and depending on the skin to shrink smoothly. But if loose skin exists, skin will not shrink evenly,” said Dr. Patronella, who performed corrective tummy tuck surgery to improve the contour irregularity that resulted from the SmartLipo procedure this patient received elsewhere.

Before her 40th birthday, Kelly made the decision to have a mommy makeover. Like many mothers, pregnancy had left her with loose abdominal skin and breasts that had lost volume and firmness. As the mother of two young boys who “live at the pool during the summer,” she wasn’t interested in looking like she was in her 20s again, but she also wasn’t ready to resort to a one-piece to disguise her figure imperfections. “I wanted to feel better about my body and to be able to wear a bikini. Instead, I felt very boxy and square-shaped and not very feminine,” said Kelly.

Though she was a little surprised when the plastic surgeon with whom she consulted recommended a laser liposuction procedure rather than a tummy tuck to restore a firm, flat appearance to her abdomen, she trusted his judgment. In addition to being a board certified plastic surgeon, he’d been recommended by friends and seemed to be the right one among the four plastic surgeons she interviewed. He assured her that the procedure would leave her with fabulous results.
After undergoing surgery, Kelly’s anticipation quickly dissolved into disappointment when she observed that—although her breasts had turned out “fantastic”—her abdomen looked worse than it did before surgery, with odd-looking contours both there and on her thighs where he had removed fat and added it to her hips—a fuller look that she had not requested but that he performed to give her a more dramatic hourglass shape.
When Kelly expressed her concerns, she was taken aback by the response she received.  “They told me ‘results vary.’ I had written a $20,000 check, and nobody seemed to care,” commented Kelly, who added that the enthusiastic welcome she had felt before surgery became noticeably cooler afterwards.
The ensuing months were difficult emotionally for Kelly, dealing with the mix of discouragement and frustration she felt over the poor results she’d received despite the diligent research she thought she’d performed. “I was mad. I felt like I’d been taken by someone in whom I’d put all of my trust and my money,” she recalled. “Because my abdomen had irregular contours and was not smooth, it affected the way I looked in clothes.”
Encouraged by her husband to seek help from a physician who was skilled at performing revision surgery, Kelly made an appointment for a consultation with plastic surgeon Dr. Chris Patronella after seeing the impressive tummy tuck results a good friend received from him. “My friend just raved about Dr. Patronella,” said Kelly. “Although she followed very disciplined exercise and healthy eating habits and wore a size four, she still could pull loose skin left behind by pregnancy over her jeans. Dr. Patronella removed 10 inches of skin from her abdomen during her abdominoplasty procedure, and within 10 days, she was up and around with her normal daily routine.”
Though Kelly was fearful about going through surgery again, Dr. Patronella’s reassuring, yet straightforward discussion with her gave her hope. “He’s very personable and doesn’t put on airs,” said Kelly. “You get the feeling that he’s going to take care of you.”
The surgeon told her that—because of her skin’s good elasticity and the fact that her loose abdominal skin had been located primarily beneath her belly button—he would have recommended a mini tummy tuck to improve the appearance of her abdomen prior to her first mommy makeover procedure.  Unfortunately, the underlying scar tissue and contour irregularities left behind from her laser liposuction procedure would limit his ability to restore a smooth appearance to her abdomen to the degree he typically could achieve through abdominoplasty surgery.
“Though it stung to hear the truth, I appreciated that he was honest with me,” commented Kelly. “He sets your mind where it needs to be, and he was very patient and understanding. “ The surgeon explained to her that—although he couldn’t promise he’d be able to give her the abdomen of a 22-year-old—he would definitely be able improve its appearance by performing a tummy tuck procedure.”
During the revision procedure, Dr. Patronella repaired her abdomen to restore a more ideal appearance and also removed fat from her hips to give her the slimmer proportions she desired. The results she received not only gave her a new look of which she could be proud, it renewed her confidence and ability to enjoy life more fully again after the disheartening aftermath of her first surgical experience.
“You wear clothes differently when you feel good about your body,” said Kelly. “I’m not pear-shaped anymore. I’m able to enjoy wearing strapless and backless fashions, and other feminine styles that I haven’t worn since the years before I had children and think, ‘I look good in this.’”

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