Liposuction vs. Tummy Tuck: What Is the Difference?

What is a Tummy Tuck?

tummy tuck is a cosmetic surgery procedure that is performed to make the abdomen thinner and more firm. The surgery involves removing excess fat and skin from the abdomen to tighten the fascia and muscle of the abdominal wall.

It is a popular cosmetic procedure among individuals seeking to lose stubborn fat from their abdomen. It is most necessary following pregnancy, a massive weight loss change, or when the abdomen is flabby with weak muscles that are impairing the body’s contour and aesthetic appearance.

Nowadays, it is easier than ever to achieve your dream body. When you have access to trusted surgeons and recommended hospitals, they can make your journey to a better body smooth and quick.

If you have ever considered plastic surgery to achieve a flatter stomach and a more pleasing appearance, read on to find out the difference between liposuction and tummy tuck procedures.

What is Liposuction?

Liposuction is a cosmetic surgery procedure that involves removing extra fat from the body in order to improve the contours or shape of the body. Excess fat is removed from areas such as the thighs, buttocks, abdomen, neck, arms, or back.

Through this procedure a physician can immediately reshape the contours of the body, improving its overall appearance. Liposuction is a weight loss strategy that focuses primarily on fat that could not be removed through diet and exercise.

What’s the Difference Between Liposuction and a Tummy Tuck?

The difference between a tummy tuck and liposuction is liposuction involves removing small fat deposits from the body found on specific areas such as the thighs, buttocks, hips, or stomach. While a tummy tuck involves removing excess skin and fat from the middle or lower abdomen area.

A tummy tuck procedure specifically targets the abdominal region on the body while liposuction focuses on other areas of the body. The procedures are similar however they are different in terms of operation, risks involved, and recovery time.

Who is the ideal candidate for each procedure?

The ideal candidate for a tummy tuck procedure is someone who is unhappy with the appearance of their abdomen, has realistic expectations, and is at a stable weight and physically healthy. This person should be finished having babies, and have increased amounts of skin laxity or looseness from the belly button down to the suprapubic region. 

The ideal candidate for a liposuction procedure is someone who is unhappy with the appearance of a specific area on the body due to excess fat deposits. They should have firm, elastic skin and good muscle tone and be within 30% of their ideal body weight.

How are the procedures performed?

A tummy tuck is performed by first placing the patient under general anesthesia. Two incisions are made: one from the hip bone on one side to the hip bone on the other side of the body, near the pubic region, the other incision is made around the navel. Skin is then separated from the abdominal muscles, then the abdominal muscles are pulled together and stitched into place for a more narrow waist. 

The separated flap of skin is then stretched over the newly tightened muscles, and excess skin is removed. Finally, the navel is reattached to a place it looks natural. The incisions are closed up and a sterile dressing is applied over the area. This procedure takes 2-5 hours to complete. Liposuction is performed through small inconspicuous incisions. First local anesthesia is infused to decrease bleeding and trauma.

Then a very thin tube or cannula is inserted through the incisions to loosen the excess fat using a controlled back and forth motion. Lastly, the dislodged fat is suctioned out of the body region through the use of a surgical vacuum or syringe that is attached to the cannula.

The difference in the results.

The difference in the results is liposuction will be long-lasting, given that you maintain a stable weight and exercise generally. It may take up to 6 months following the procedure to see the final result. While a tummy tuck procedure shows results almost immediately following treatment. 

Tummy tuck results are considered to be more permanent because the skin and fat cells are removed and cannot grow back. Although great results are expected from the liposuction procedure, in many situations more surgery may be required in order to achieve optimal results.

Different Complications.

Complications specific to liposuction include contour irregularities, fluid accumulation, numbness, infection, internal puncture, fat embolism, lidocaine toxicity, and potential kidney and heart problems. 

Complications specific to tummy tuck procedure include persistent pain, anesthesia risks, infection, seroma, skin loss, poor wound healing, skin discoloration, and prolonged sweating, scarring, recurrent looseness of the skin, fat necrosis, asymmetry, deep vein thrombosis, cardiac and pulmonary complications, suboptimal aesthetic result, and the possibility of revisional surgery. 

Recovery processes for each procedure.

The recovery process for liposuction includes receiving elastic bandages or a compression garment to cover treatment areas once the procedure is completed. This helps compress the skin to it’s new body contours and also controls swelling. Upon being discharged one may experience mild to moderate pain during the first 48 hours. The pain should be easily controlled with oral medication. During the first 24 hours, one can also expect to see some fluid discharge from the incisions. Bruising is also normal during this period. 

Patients are expected to leave their bandages on during the first five days following the procedure and should refrain from bathing. Recovery lasts about two weeks and one should refrain from exercise for at least four weeks.  Normal activities can resume after this time. Swelling may take several months to resolve so expect to see end results a few months out. The recovery process for a tummy tuck involves wearing an abdominal binder for about six weeks. 

Drains will also be left in for a few days after the procedure and patients are expected to empty and care for them as instructed. After surgery, one should also avoid any vigorous exercise and strenuous activity during the six weeks. One can expect to shower or bathe 48 hours after drains are removed and to be prescribed an antibiotic.

Work, working out, eating.

Following a liposuction treatment, one may return to work within a few days, however, it is commonly suggested to take time off during the first two weeks. It is advised to wait 4-6 weeks after surgery to engage in any strenuous physical exercise.

Following the procedure, one should focus primarily on consuming nutritious food, and avoid salty foods, sugars, saturated fats, and alcohol for at least 2-4 weeks. After a tummy tuck procedure, one should not return to work for 2-6 weeks. After two weeks it is encouraged to begin light cardiovascular exercise. Patients should consume tons of water and eat plenty of protein for a fast recovery. 

What happens if you gain weight

What happens if you gain weight after liposuction is other regions of the body unaffected by the procedure may become larger than they would normally with previous weight gain. This is due to the removal of the fat cells in the treatment area making it a challenge for remaining cells to expand and produce fat in the region. 

If you gain weight following a tummy tuck procedure it can cause skin and abdominal muscles to stretch and create a bulge. If the weight gain progresses you may need a tummy tuck revision. It is important for patients to maintain their results by following the aftercare instructions and committing to a healthy lifestyle.

Difference in price

Differences in the price vary by patient. Liposuction on average for a single area can cost anywhere from $4,000 to $4,500.  The cost will largely depend on the individual’s treatment plan and expectations for the procedure. The average price for a tummy tuck procedure is around $5,798. This will also depend on the patient’s treatment plan and their expectations because patients may seek follow-up treatment.

Can you get both procedures at once

You can get both procedures done at once. It is common to have liposuction of other areas done during a tummy tuck operation. The two procedures are seen as complementary for improving the appearance of the abdomen, as well as the body’s contours.

Choosing the right surgeon

Choosing the right surgeon is crucial for Houston tummy tuck and liposuction procedures. The choice of a cosmetic surgeon will be one you live with for years. It is important to consider their level of experience, and how familiar they are with the procedures. You should also always make sure the surgeon is board-certified and that they make you feel comfortable.

If you have only a few isolated fatty areas, liposuction could be an easier and simpler choice. Schedule a personal consultation to learn more about your case, and let us know your desired results.

Whether you want a tummy tuck versus lipo, we can answer your questions and concerns. Contact us online, or give us a call today at 713-794-0368.

Schedule a Consultation

Contact us today to schedule your appointment with the renowned plastic surgeon and breast & body specialist Dr. Mark Schusterman. Take your first steps to a more beautiful you.

Accessibility: If you are vision-impaired or have some other impairment covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act or a similar law, and you wish to discuss potential accommodations related to using this website, please contact our Accessibility Manager: (713) 794-0368.