Tummy Tuck or Liposuction: What's the Difference, and Which Is Right for You?

Dr. Sacha Obaid, Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon Serving Dallas, Plano, Southlake, and Nearby Fort Worth, Texas

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Liposuction and tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) are two different cosmetic surgeries that can produce similar results. That means it's not always easy to choose between the two when your goal is to enhance your tummy area! If you are considering one of these procedures for yourself, read on to find out more about what makes each one unique.

Tummy Tuck Versus Abdominal Liposuction

Both of these procedures target the abdominal area, but they work their magic in very different ways.

Abdominal Liposuction

The Procedure In abdominal liposuction, a surgeon makes tiny incisions in the target area of your abdomen and then inserts a medical suction tool into those incisions to remove fat. The incisions are so small that they heal very quickly and leave no scarring. The Results The goal of this procedure is to remove those last few stubborn areas of fat that diet and exercise can’t touch. Liposuction isn’t able to remove large amounts of fat from the body and isn’t a tool for weight loss. It’s actually a body-sculpting tool that is very efficient at smoothing out lumps and bumps caused by fat deposits that don’t respond to other methods. This is why liposuction is a great solution even for patients whose bodies are already fit and toned. Those last few stubborn pockets of fat can be incredibly frustrating! The Recovery Liposuction recovery is typically very quick. Most people can return to all their normal activities after only a week or two. This procedure does give permanent results, as the fat is permanently gone from the body, and doesn’t “grow back”. However, that doesn’t mean it’s no longer possible to gain weight at all. Liposuction is definitely not a substitute for healthy eating and exercise. tummy tuck or lipo  

Tummy Tuck

The Procedure Abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) is more extensive and invasive than liposuction. Your surgeon makes an incision across your lower abdomen. This incision is made beneath the pelvic line, so the scar can be hidden by underwear or a bikini. Your surgeon then removes excess skin and fat from your abdominal area. They may also tighten underlying abdominal muscle to strengthen your core and further flatten your tummy. The Results The tummy tuck is a procedure for people whose bodies have changed as a result of one of two things:

  1. Weight loss
  2. Pregnancy

If you’re in one of these two categories and feel frustrated by the way your body has changed, a tummy tuck could be the answer. When a patient has loose skin in the abdominal area after losing weight, it can make the tummy look flabby, but a tummy tuck can remove the last of the fat as well as the excess skin. While it’s not a substitute for dieting, a tummy tuck can remove a more significant amount of fat than liposuction, along with excess skin. The results it produces are much more dramatic than liposuction results, as excess abdominal skin often makes a person appear to be more overweight than they really are. The Recovery Because the tummy tuck procedure is more invasive than liposuction, recovery takes longer. You’ll be able to return to a normal level of activity after several weeks, and it can take several months before you see the final results of surgery. While it provides permanent results, they do take longer to be revealed than the results of liposuction.

Liposuction vs. Tummy Tuck: What’s Best for You Depends on Your Body Goals

Is removing small pockets of fat your goal, or do you want to smooth and flatten your abdominal area with a tummy tuck? Which procedure is best for you depends on you and your body goals. For example, if you’re close to your goal weight but have some abdominal fat that can’t be dieted away, then liposuction is the best way to get rid of that fat. On the other hand, if your abdominal area has loose skin from weight loss or pregnancy, then a tummy tuck is the best way to trim and smooth your tummy. Liposuction is less likely to give good results if you have loose skin or poor skin elasticity. In short, liposuction is great for making small improvements, but a tummy tuck is better if you want bigger changes to your body.

The Combined Approach

These two procedures both give great results in the right situation, but they can also be combined and performed at the same time, to give even better results! Many people who want to improve their abdominal area are hoping for and picturing the kinds of results that can only be achieved by performing both liposuction and a tummy tuck. This is especially true for women who hope to regain their pre-pregnancy shape, as it’s very common for pregnancy to result in both excess abdominal skin and weight gain that’s hard to diet away. When performed together, liposuction and a tummy tuck can be very effective at improving the appearance of the abdominal area. The liposuction ensures your abdominal region is smooth and free of lumps and bumps, and the tummy tuck removes skin folds and tightens core muscles, so the skin of your abdominal area lies smoothly over your tummy.

Talk to a Board-Certified Surgeon

Are you interested in having a tummy tuck or abdominal liposuction? Or do you know you want to make some changes to your body, but aren’t sure what to do next? Making an appointment for a consultation with a board-certified surgeon is your next step! A surgeon can give you some great advice about what procedures are appropriate for your body goals and help you make the choice that’s right for you.