THE Food Network’s salty Southern chef PAULA DEEN is clashing with her husband – because she doesn’t want to be sliced and diced by a cosmetic surgeon!

While she’s dropped a whopping 40 pounds, Paula has refused to go under the knife to tighten up her saggy body parts. But sources say her hubby Michael Groover is cook­ing up plans to change her mind.

“Michael really LOVES Paula’s thinner body and wants her to re­ward herself with surgery to get rid of the loose skin from her weight loss,” a family source told The ENQUIRER.

“Paula’s midsection, butt, thighs, upper arms and chin were once pleasingly plump, but now there’s a lot of wrinkled layers of loose skin.

“Michael wishes she’d do some­thing about it. He feels that a few simple surgical procedures would be the perfect gift for her after all she’s done to drop her weight, but so far Paula isn’t budging.”

The feisty star admits that she’s got a problem with saggy skin, but still insists that cosmetic surgery isn’t for her.

“At 66, you’ll find your chin in your lap, you know, if you lose that much, because that loose skin has to go somewhere, doesn’t it?” she once said in an interview, but later add­ed: “I don’t want to be cut on. Folks wake up dead after that surgery sometimes. I’m just scared of it.”

Still, sources close to Paula say her tugboat captain hubby Michael, 57, thinks a nip-tuck is just what she needs and keeps trying diplomati­cally to get his wife of nine years to change her mind, said the source.

“Michael has to tread very lightly when it comes to en­couraging Paula about undergoing cosmetic surgery,” revealed the insider.

“She wears the pants in their household, so if he pushes her too hard, she’ll undoubt­edly send him straight to the doghouse.

“Michael is trying to be as subtle as possible, but he’s struggling to find super creative ways to drop hints about surgery.”

Paula – whose popularity once stemmed from her fatty, unhealthy recipes – did a dietary turnaround after being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. The ENQUIRER revealed that news in April 2011 – nearly nine months before she made the official announcement.

AFTER Paula began taking a healthier approach to eating, Michael and her two sons, Jamie, 45, and Bobby, 42, followed her lead, and collec­tively they dropped nearly 200 pounds.

“Michael has tried everything he can think of to push Paula into getting the surgery,” said the source.

“And he knows the excess skin will continue to get worse as time goes on and she loses more weight.”