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How Do I Know if I Need a Tummy Tuck or Lipo?

Doctor Answers (24)

Tummy tuck vs liposuction

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If you have loose extra skin, stretch marks, muscle laxity from pregnancy you need a tummy tuck. If you have strong muscles, no rolls or folds of extra skin, minimal to no stretch marks and great skin elasticity you need lipo.

If you have had kids, about 95% will need a tummy tuck to get the best flattest abdomen they can have. There are far more patients unhappy with what lipo didn't deliver than those who are not happy with a tummy tuck.

Tummy Tuck vs Liposuction only

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Many patients are confused about whether they need a tummy tuck or liposuction. It is easy to think about it like this. Liposuction is a volume reduction operation, while a tummy tuck is a skin and abdominal wall tightening operation. If you have good skin quality and muscle tone, but just have a small area of stubborn fat that is resistance to diet and exercise, then you are probably a candidate for liposuction. However, If you have poor skin quality (stretch marks) and a weak abdominal wall (from pregnancy) then you are most likely a candidate for a tummy tuck. Depending on your particular case, your plastic surgeon may suggest a combination of liposuction and tummy tuck to achieve the desired result.

Before your consultation, look at yourself in the mirror. Decide what bothers you the most. Determine if you just want to rejuvenate your abdomen, or if you also want to improve you love handles and upper back roll. If you let your plastic surgeon know your priorities up front, he/she will be in a better position to design a solution that meets your goals and your budget. Hope this Helps. Thanks.

Tummy tuck vs. liposuction - which is better?

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A tummy tuck tightens fascia and removes extra skin. There are several types of tummy tucks, basically falling into three categories:

Mini tucks just below the belly button - OK for scar revision but does not tighten skin or fascia above the belly button. Short incision.

Hybrid tummy tuck(R) - tightens fascia all the way up, removes minimal skin. OK for patients with very little loose skin. Small incision.

Full tummy tuck - removes lots of skin and tightens the deep layer. Long incision.

Liposuction by any method removes skin only. I am totally unconvinced that laser / VASER do any significant tightening of the skin, and usually it is more of a marketing ploy to patients who hope to avoid the incisions of a tummy tuck.

Don't be conned into getting liposuction alone if you have lots of extra skin, or if you have a loose deep fascia. You will only be lumpy and disappointed.

Brent Moelleken, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 102 reviews

Many factors to consider when deciding between Tummy Tuck or Liposuction

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There are many factors that go into deciding if you are better off with a tummy tuck or liposuction.

Generally speaking, if you have extra skin then you are better off with a tummy tuck. Also, if you have had children or loss a great deal of weight you are probably better off with a tummy tuck. Usually these patients have stretched the fascia layer just above the muscles and the rectus muscles are separated. The only way to correct this separation is with sewing the muscles together and that is usually done with a tummy tuck.

Lipo works best for localized areas of fat that have not improved with diet and exercise.

Hope this helps, good luck with your contouring.

Suresh Koneru, MD
San Antonio Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

Tummy Tuck or Lipo

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Without photos we can not judge exactly what you may need. Go see 3 boarded plastic surgeons in your area or post some photos so we can help. Regards.

Tummy Tuck or liposuction: which one do I choose?

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Tummy Tuck = Treatment for loose skin, separated rectus muscles.

Liposuction = Treatment of localized fatty deposits in patients with excellent skin tone.

If you have had children or massive weight gain/loss, I would venture to say that there is a 95% chance you will need a tummy tuck

If you are young, fit, or have not had children and exhibit good skin tone with no hernias then you may be a better candidate for liposuction alone.

There are many other possibilities as well as permuations and combinations of these procedures and the decision making process is not always black and white.

This is the value in seeking a consultation with a board certified plastic surgeon to discuss your options.

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 51 reviews

Tummy tuck vs. liposuction

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Tummy tuck and liposuction are very different procedures with different outcomes. Tummy tucks are suggested when there is excess skin around the abdomen coupled with stretch marks that cannot be remedied through diet and exercise. A tummy tuck will remove the loose skin and stretch marks by excision typically leaving a scar from hip to hip. Liposuction on the other hand removes fat from the abdomen by a suction method. You should discuss with several board certified surgeons in your area and discuss your desired outcome.

Amy K. Alderman, MD, FACS, MPH
Alpharetta Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 14 reviews

Choosing between a Tummy Tuck and Liposuction

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Please review my video about tummy tucks after reading this answer. Both the tummy tuck and abdominal liposuction can be used to improve the abdomen. Most people want to avoid visible scars, so there is a tendency to hope the liposuction will improve abdominal contour. Lipo is much more limited in its true application, as the majority of women are not good candidates for only having lipo:


  • What it does: Removes fat from below the skin surface
  • Good surgical candidate: Patients with localized fat deposits who have good skin tone (ie: no stretch marks, no hanging skin, no stomach wall laxity). Typically these are young women who have not had children.

Tummy Tuck

  • What it does:
    • Removes a section of abdominal skin and fat
    • Tightens the abdominal muscular wall (flattening the abdomen)
    • Tightens the abdominal skin
    • Pulls in the waist line
  • Good surgical candidate: Medically healthy women who were not good candidates for abdominal liposuction. (ie: most women who have had children).

Best regards,


Tummy tuck or liposuction

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Tummy Tuck (abdominoplasty) and Lipo (liposuction) can both be performed on the stomach area to remove fat.

Lipo is best used on the abdomen if the skin over the stomach has not been overly stretched with weight gain or pregnancy. In this case, the skin is expected to redrape over the suctioned area smoothly without sagging or hanging.

If, however, skin excess is present, an abdominoplasty is the proper procedure to perform because it addressed the skin excess by removing skin in the lower abdomen to restore youthful skin tone after the surgery.

A board certified plastic surgeon is best qualified to assist you in determining which procedure is best for your tummy, but this information will give you a head start in determining which is best for you.

-Dr. Robert Bledsoe

Robert C. Bledsoe, Jr., MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

Tummy tuck or liposuction

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Without seeing you or examining a patient it is impossible to say what they would be best served having, either liposuction or an abdominoplasty. For those patients whose skin has fallen loose, a skin and subcutaneous tissue tummy tuck may be all they need. For those whose connective tissue envelope, fascia, has weakened by large weight gain or pregnancy, the fascia may not be able to prevent the muscle wall of the belly from bowing forward which creaetes a big bulge. When the doctor examines a patient, they feel the fat compartment under the skin and above the muscle. They might have you tense your belly muscle, when you are lying down by lifting your heels off the table and seeing how much fat is above the muscle. While standing and bending forward as if you were diving into the water, the profile of the abdomen is examined for a weakening of the muscle wall. If there is little fat but a big bowing forward, then a tummy tuck with muscle tightening is in order. See a board-certified plastic surgeon or dermatologic surgeon who performs a lot of liposuction. There are some patients who benefit from both procedures, liposuction and a tummy tuck, but they may be done at different times for safety issues (there could be a fat embolus traveling to the lungs, which could be fatal, when both procedures are done together. I have performed liposuction on the abdomen and after healing referred my patient to a plastic surgeon for a tummy tuck with very good results.

Ronald Shelton, MD
Manhattan Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.