close up of a woman's waist and abs in tan underwear

Both liposuction and tummy tucks are popular cosmetic procedures designed to trim, tone, and slim down the abdomen in general. As the desired results are similar, the question of “Liposuction vs. tummy tuck?” comes up a lot when people are deciding on plastic surgery.

While there are similarities between liposuction and tummy tucks, the two are distinct procedures that result in different outcomes. While liposuction focuses on fat removal, a tummy tuck primarily treats issues associated with skin laxity. However, sometimes a tummy tuck can be a follow-up to liposuction.

The best way to determine whether you should undergo a tummy tuck or liposuction is to book a consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon. However, below we will offer a brief overview of the differences between the two procedures to help you start your decision-making process.

Liposuction Vs. Tummy Tuck: The Basics

Liposuction removes unwanted fat from areas all over the body, often including the stomach. During the liposuction procedure, a surgeon makes a small incision near the treatment site and inserts a cannula. Fat is then removed via a suction cannula.

Recovery from liposuction is usually well tolerated. For a minimum of two weeks, you will need to wear a compression garment over the treatment areas. In many cases, your surgeon will recommend compression garments for at least six weeks. Within a few weeks, tenderness and swelling will subside and within three to six months you see the final results from the procedure. In most cases, you can resume normal daily activities within several days and resume exercise within two weeks.

A tummy tuck is significantly more invasive and entails a longer recovery process. During a tummy tuck, your surgeon will make an incision, usually from hip bone to hip bone. They then remove excess skin and fat and tighten the underlying abdominal muscles.

You need to rest for the first few days following a tummy tuck and may have drainage tubes put in place. It will take one to two weeks to resume normal daily activities and six weeks before you can do any heavy lifting or significant exercise. On average, it takes about three to six months to see the full results from a tummy tuck.

Who Is A Good Candidate For Liposuction?

Liposuction is usually designed for people with fat deposits – often the result of genetics – that do not respond to lifestyle changes like diet and exercise. Liposuction is not a weight loss technique and is designed for people at or close to their ideal weight.

Many people undergo liposuction after having lost weight if fat will not come off certain areas. However, liposuction does not address issues like sagging skin, which often result from extreme or rapid weight loss.

Good candidates for liposuction usually have a small amount of abdominal fat they want removed and do not have extreme skin laxity issues.

Who Is A Good Candidate For A Tummy Tuck?

Much like liposuction, a tummy tuck is designed for people who are near or at their ideal weight, but unsatisfied with the appearance of their stomach. However, a tummy tuck addresses issues that liposuction cannot treat.

As opposed to liposuction, a tummy tuck treats skin laxity issues. Extreme weight loss – such as weight loss after bariatric surgery – often causes sagging skin. Pregnancy – especially multiple pregnancies – can cause similar issues. A tummy tuck is designed for patients who both want to remove excess skin.

A tummy tuck – like liposuction – is not a form of weight loss. You need to be at a healthy weight to safely undergo a tummy tuck.

Liposuction And Tummy Tuck

Because there is a lot of overlap between what both liposuction and tummy tucks attempt to achieve, many patients end up undergoing both procedures. Often, skin laxity can show up or get worse after liposuction. Your plastic surgeon may recommend a tummy tuck as a follow-up. Liposuction and tummy tucks are also frequently done simultaneously, though the amount of liposuction done to the abdomen must be minimized to prevent healing issues.

Liposuction And Tummy Tuck: The Bottom Line

Removing excess fat from the stomach is a common goal of cosmetic surgery. Tummy tucks and liposuction are the two main means of achieving this goal. Both procedures are safe, effective, and can leave you with a flatter, tighter stomach.

However, the procedures do have key differences that are important to consider when deciding between them. While both can remove fat from the stomach, liposuction cannot treat the skin laxity issues often corrected by a tummy tuck. The best way to decide which procedure is right for you is to book a consultation with a plastic surgeon. Ready to get started? Leif Rogers is an Ivy League-educated, board-certified plastic surgeon and a standing member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. If you are considering a tummy tuck or liposuction, get in touch with his team to schedule a consultation.

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