What’s the Difference Between Plastic Surgery Abdominoplasty and Liposuction?


Nothing is more frustrating than eating right, working out, doing your best to live a healthy lifestyle—and still not having the body you want. For many of our clients, though, this is a reality: Despite their best efforts, they just can’t work off those love handles, get rid of that belly bulge, or tighten that little bit of extra skin around their tummy. The good news is that there are surgical options to address these stubborn areas of fat, including both plastic surgery abdominoplasty (more popularly known as the tummy tuck) and liposuction.

While these are both good options for contouring your body, they’re not at all the same procedure—and it’s important to know not only how they differ, but which one is ultimately right for you.

What is Abdominoplasty?

Let’s take a look at what both of these procedures actually entail, starting with the abdominoplasty or tummy tuck.

The plastic surgery abdominoplasty procedure is something we recommend to women and men alike—basically anyone who has loose abdominal skin or a belly bulge that they’d like to tighten up, resulting in a flatter tummy.

plastic surgery abdominoplasty

In a standard tummy tuck, our surgeons will remove flaccid abdominal skin and tighten any abdominal muscles that have been weakened, either by pregnancy and childbirth or simply by weight gain.

There are some variations on this, as well, including the “mini tummy tuck,” which involves only one small incision and can be effective for those whose extra abdominal skin is fairly minimal.

Plastic surgery abdominoplasty has been around for decades, but recent advancements have made it a more practical and appealing option than ever before. Two specific advancements come to mind: First, there is Exparel, a non-narcotic local anesthetic that allows our clients to be virtually pain-free for the first three days of their recovery—enabling them to sail through the most uncomfortable days of their recovery and also helps them use less pain management drugs throughout their downtime. Drain-free recovery is the other big innovation, allowing our clients to recover more quickly and without the need for inconvenient drains.

Now, it is important to emphasize that the tummy tuck is not intended as a fast track to weight loss. Rather, it’s an option for the kinds of individuals we described above—generally healthy people who eat well, exercise, but just can’t seem to do anything about some of that stubborn abdominal fat or loose skin. If that describes you, you may be a good candidate for plastic surgery abdominoplasty at Charlotte Plastic Surgery—but more on that in just a moment.

What is Liposuction?

Let’s now take a look at liposuction, commonly abbreviated as lipo.

Liposuction is meant to address some of the same goals as the tummy tuck—e.g., stubborn areas of fat that you just can’t get rid of. Unlike tummy tucks, however, lipo isn’t just about the abdomen. In fact, we have clients who use it to address “double chins,” upper arms, thighs, and beyond.

Lipo is actually one of the most common surgical procedures in the entire country, and for most clients, it is perfectly safe and effective. As with abdominoplasty, there are a few different types of lipo to be aware of. Suction-assisted lipo is the more traditional option, using a high-negative-pressure vacuum to remove fat from the target area. This vacuum is inserted through a small incision, which minimizes potential scarring.

There is also ultrasound-assisted lipo, best for fibrous body areas and larger amounts of fat. This method uses an ultrasound probe to “liquify” the fat before it’s extracted. Finally, make note of power-assisted lipo, where quick and tiny vibrations are used to break up the fat into miniscule pieces; again, this makes for easier extraction.

We’re proud to offer all three of these methods to our clients at Charlotte Plastic Surgery—but we’ll offer the same caveat as before. This isn’t a “get-thin-quick” method. This is recommended for clients who lead reasonably healthy lifestyles, but just can’t quite get rid of that stubborn fat.

Are You an Ideal Candidate for Plastic Surgery Abdominoplasty or for Lipo?

The question is, which of these two methods is the right one for you?

Believe it or not, you don’t have to choose. We actually have a lot of clients who have both procedures done. While a patient is having a tummy tuck performed, our surgeons can also use lipo techniques to remove some extra fat. This results in the best of both worlds—the removal of fat and a tightening of the tummy.

We should also note that both of these procedures are available to men and women alike—with some restrictions. We’ve already noted the biggest one: We recommend you be in relatively good health before having either procedure. One of our plastic surgeons will consult with you before your surgery, ensuring that you’re a good candidate for a safe and healthy procedure.

An additional note about tummy tucks: We usually advise that women wait until they are done having children before they have abdominoplasty of any kind. The reason for this is simple: Pregnancy and childbirth can sometimes undo the effects of a tummy tuck, leaving you back where you started—and potentially feeling rather frustrated about it!

The best way to determine whether a plastic surgery abdominoplasty or liposuction is right for you is to come visit us at Charlotte Plastic Surgery. We’ll sit down with you for a private and casual consultation, answering any questions you may have about these surgeries and helping you zero in on which one you need—or if you might like to have both done at once. We will also evaluate your overall physical wellbeing to ensure you’re really a good fit for lipo or for a tummy tuck.

Charlotte Plastic Surgery has been at the forefront of these cosmetic procedures for decades now, and one of our great pleasures is meeting with clients and showing them how they can look and feel more youthful. Maybe the solution you’re seeking is a tummy tuck, liposuction, or both. Find out today by making an appointment with Charlotte Plastic Surgery.