Liposuction vs Tummy Tuck: Which is better?

When considering medical procedures to assist with weight loss, two of the most common methods used today are liposuction and tummy tucks. However, the two are not necessarily interchangeable, and the right procedure for you will depend on a number of factors, including where you are currently with your body, what you’re looking to correct, and the desired results. So while each person is different, it is important to have a basic understanding of each. This way, when you go in for a consultation, you’ll have a knowledgeable foundation when considering liposuction vs tummy tuck.

Liposuction vs Tummy Tuck: Which is better?

The tummy tuck is a common form of surgery performed to help improve the appearance of muscle and skin in the abdominal region. While both men and women can take advantage of this medical procedure, it is most commonly used by women following the birth of a child. Often times the skin does not tighten back up to its pre-pregnancy form, which can leave the skin baggy.

A tummy tuck isn’t always just the removal of a large belly bulge. In addition to removing excess fat (particularly on the lower abdomen), it is also removing stretched out skin and repositioning the stomach muscles to give you a toned and tight abdomen.

The full extent of a tummy tuck will depend on your body. In some instances, it very much is a simple “tuck.” However, if the muscles have pulled away and become loose, or if you have excessive stretching (which can occur both following pregnancy and following substantial weight loss), you may need a more extensive form of surgery. It is important to schedule a consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon who can go over the medical procedure with you and help you understand the full extent of the tummy tuck.

What to Expect

When you receive a tummy tuck it will be done at an operating room under general anesthesia. The surgery itself will take anywhere from two to six hours to complete.

During the surgery, your plastic surgeon will remove the baggy skin and fat tissue around your abdominal section. Sometimes, additional baggy skin around your sides (also known as the “love-handle” area) may be removed as well. If your abdominal muscles have become stretched out, your doctor will tighten the muscles and suture them back to where they’re supposed to be. Some patients are left with small drainage tubes that allow excess fluid to drain from the abdomen – these stay in place for a few days.  In some cases, tubes aren’t necessary and drains are eliminated altogether thanks to progressive-tension suturing.  Each patient is truly unique.

You will be sent home that same day with simple aftercare instructions, and you will return for a post-operative visit the next day.  You will continue to heal over the course of 1 to 2 weeks with intermittent visits to your surgeons’ office throughout to make sure you’re healing properly.

Combining Procedures

As you will be under anesthesia for several hours, many individuals choose to have a tummy tuck with liposuction at the same time, or even other cosmetic procedures, so that they are put under once and have a singular recovery period.  For example, you may have heard of patient’s doing this with a“Mommy Makeover” which often includes a tummy tuck with a breast augmentation or breast lift.  It is important to discuss the advantages and limitations of combining cosmetic procedures with your board-certified plastic surgeon, as everyone is different.


Liposuction is different in that it is the physical removal of fatty tissue. During a tummy tuck, baggy fat and skin are cut away around the abdominal region, but with liposuction, fat cells are removed using a suction process (also known as body contouring).

Liposuction can be done around your stomach region, but it can also be done in other areas of your body. Every person is different, but some of the most commonly treated areas are the thighs (especially the “banana roll”), upper arms (or “bat wings”), back (or “bra roll”), buttocks, under the chin (“double chin”), and even above the knees.

Methods of Liposuction

There are a number of different ways to perform liposuction procedures. With some techniques, ultrasound or vibration is used to break up the fat cells to make them easier to remove.  In other techniques, a laser is used to break up fatty deposits.  Regardless of how the procedure is performed, the overall framework remains the same – areas of localized fat deposits are broken up and sucked out through a thin metal straw called a cannula.  These cannulas are very small, and only require a little incision in order to be inserted into the area, meaning scarring is essentially a non-issue for most people.

With liposuction, you will be sent home that same day with some simple aftercare instructions and possibly a compression garment. You’ll feel sore, bruised, and a bit swollen for 1 to 2 weeks.

Talk ToA Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon

Both liposuction and a tummy tuck can help improve your physical appearance and help you get back to feeling more like yourself after experiencing major weight loss or child birth. However, the right procedure for you may not be right for the next person. It depends on a number of health and lifestyle factors, ranging from what your body is like currently and the final results desired. Due to this, the best way to identify what is right for you is to make an appointment with Charlotte Plastic Surgery and receive a consultation. During the consultation, a plastic surgeon will sit down with you, discuss the final results you’re looking to accomplish, and then, based on your body, select what is right for you.