Lipo or Tummy Tuck – What’s the Difference?

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


By Sacha Obaid

lipo or tummy tuck picSurgical methods to improve the shape and contour of the abdomen are very common cosmetic procedures with a high rate of success. Each method has its place, and if you are considering plastic surgery it is important for you to understand the differences.

Patients frequently misunderstand the distinction between abdominal liposuction and tummy tuck surgery. While both procedures target the abdomen, the approaches are otherwise quite different and can even be viewed as complementary techniques that can be used together. Our overview below highlights the key differences between these procedures and their typical applications.

The basic differences between lipo and tummy tucks

Understanding the right way to apply these procedures begins with understanding the procedures themselves. Abdominal liposuction involves targeted removal of relatively small volumes of fat by suction. Essentially, a vacuum is connected to a small tube with a sharpened end, which is inserted through tiny incisions and used to carefully remove fat deposits.

Tummy tucks are much more extensive procedures, with an incision made across the lower abdomen followed by the removal of significant amounts of skin and fat. The underlying muscle and connective tissue is also adjusted in some cases to tighten and flatten the abdominal area. These procedures are often done for people who have experienced a significant amount of weight loss leading to sagging skin and mothers who are left with a bit of extra skin after their baby bump goes away.

Your baseline matters

Which of these procedures makes sense for you? The answer is, of course, that it depends. In general, liposuction is intended for smaller alterations to the body’s contour and cannot really be used to correct skin sagging or folding. So, if you just need a touch-up to remove stubborn fat deposits, liposuction will probably be sufficient to help you get the results you want. If large amounts of fat need to be removed or there is excess loose skin, a tummy tuck is the best option to get this result.

Consider your goals

You should consult closely with your plastic surgeon to determine what a realistic result would be like. Part of the consultation should cover the other, non-surgical changes you will need to make to your lifestyle in order to get the most out of these procedures.

A combined approach

Given that the two procedures are so different, it might be a bit surprising to know that they can actually be performed simultaneously. In fact, in many cases, patients are seeking a major abdominal overhaul that can only be achieved with a combination of both tummy tuck surgery and liposuction.

This duo of procedures can be very effective at improving the appearance of the abdominal area while simultaneously re-shaping the figure to give it a sleeker silhouette.

The best way to get started is to schedule a consultation; your doctor will be able to give you specific recommendations about how to get the abdominal improvements you are seeking.