Tummy Tuck vs. Lipo: Body Contouring Treatments Dreams are Made of!

In order to look and feel your best, there’s really no substitute for smart nutrition and regular exercise. Even with the most significant of lifestyle changes, however, many people do not achieve the trim, shapely figure they dream of. In fact, even people who lose a lot of weight may be left with sagging skin and excess flab, which even diet and exercise can’t seem to shake.

For these patients, we typically recommend body contouring procedures. There are some good non-surgical options available, including CoolSculpting, but for more drastic results you may wish to consider surgery. The two most popular surgical options for body contouring include the tummy tuck and liposuction.

The question is, which procedure is best for you? The way to find out is to schedule a consultation with one of our board-certified physicians. In the meantime, here is a quick guide to deciding between a tummy tuck vs lipo.

Body Contouring Treatments Guide – Tummy Tuck vs Lipo

What is a Tummy Tuck?

To begin with, let’s define what each of these procedures entails, starting with the tummy tuck.

A tummy tuck is a plastic surgery procedure in which your surgeon will make some small incisions, allowing them to remove excess fat and tissue from your abdominal area. Your surgeon will also remove any excess skin, and, if needed, strengthen the walls of your stomach. The goal is to provide you with a flat and toned tummy.

Tummy tucks can be especially good for patients who have gone through significant shifts in their weight, including weight gain due to pregnancy. These weight shifts often stretch out the skin surrounding your abdomen, but a tummy tuck can restore you to a flatter, more aesthetically pleasing contour.

Another benefit of the tummy tuck: Many women experience a rupture of their rectus abdominis (their “situp muscles”) during pregnancy and childbirth. During a tummy tuck, your surgeon can stitch these muscles back together, resulting in stronger, tighter abs.

What is Liposuction?

Liposuction works a little bit differently. In liposuction, your surgeon will make small incisions. Through those incisions, the surgeon will vacuum out unwanted fat in targeted areas of your body.

Indeed, liposuction can be an especially good way to remove small but stubborn fat deposits from problem areas. Many patients seek liposuction to address excess fat in their hips, thighs, upper arms, or buttocks. Lipo can also be used around the abdominal area.

Liposuction can help remove large bulges of fat and give you a more streamlined, contoured physique. It’s worth stressing, however, that body contouring is not the same thing as weight loss; getting lipo may help you achieve a more aesthetic appearance, but it isn’t intended to change the number on the scale, nor to be a treatment for obesity.

Tummy Tuck vs. Lipo: What is the Treatment Like?

As you seek to decide between these two treatments, you’ll also want to learn a bit more about what the procedures are actually like. Here is a general overview:

Tummy Tuck 

Tummy tucks are performed under general anesthesia. This ensures a procedure that is comfortable and pain-free. Once you are fully sedated, your surgeon will make incisions, typically near the bottom of the skin covering your abdominal wall.

These incisions will enable the surgeon to pull your skin tight over the abdominal muscles and trim off any excess skin or tissue.

Tummy tuck procedures generally take between two and three hours. These surgeries are performed on an outpatient basis. Patients only need one tummy tuck; there is no need to plan for a second, follow-up session. 


Liposuction is most often performed with the patient under general sedation. This ensures that the procedure itself is comfortable and free of any pain. Once you are fully sedated, the surgeon will make small incisions near the targeted area, then insert a thin tube known as the cannula to siphon off the unwanted fat cells.

The time required for liposuction varies according to the treatment area; the larger the treatment area, the more time the procedure will take. Generally speaking, the lipo surgery will last between one and two hours. Most patients get the results they desire with just a single session. Lipo is performed on an outpatient basis.

Tummy Tuck vs Lipo: Which is Best for You?

In considering which procedure to get, it may be helpful to think about the pros and cons of each.

Liposuction is best for removing localized deposits of fat; in other words, it can be a good choice for patients who have a big bulge somewhere on their body that they wish to get rid of. Lipo is also a natural choice if you’re looking to address your arms, thighs, or anywhere beyond your abdomen.

However, liposuction does not do all the things that a tummy tuck can do. For instance, lipo does not tighten your skin, remove excess skin, or repair the ab muscles. Lipo usually isn’t as well-suited for patients who have experienced major weight shifts, including weight shifts due to pregnancy.

Generally speaking, then we’ll recommend a tummy tuck for patients who are dealing with excess skin. However, there is one final thing that patients should be aware of, and that’s the reality that you don’t have to choose between these procedures. Actually, a majority of patients who come in for a tummy tuck have lipo performed at the same time, ensuring the best possible results.

Learn More About Your Tummy Tuck vs Lipo Options

To learn more about which procedure is right for you, or to consider having both procedures done at the same time, we invite you to join us for a consultation.

Charlotte Plastic Surgery boasts decades of experience helping patients achieve the body they want. We’d love to listen to your needs and goals and to recommend the surgical or non-surgical body contouring treatments that are best for you.

To schedule a consultation with one of our board-certified physicians, we welcome you to contact us at Charlotte Plastic Surgery today.