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

Doctor Answers 28

Tummy tuck vs liposuction

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.


Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 67 reviews

Tummy Tuck vs Liposuction only

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.

Andrew Jimerson, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 544 reviews

Tummy tuck vs Liposuction

This is difficult question to answer for a specific person without a consultation.  In general, liposuction alone is good for those with minimal skin laxity desiring fat reduction.  A tummy tuck is where the magic happens for abdomens with more skin laxity, midline bulging from widened abdominal muscles, and stretch marks that the patient wants to get rid of as the tummy tuck can address all of these concerns.  If the patient has an upper abdominal bulge (above the belly button), a tummy tuck can help smooth this out too.  Liposuction can be combined with tummy tucks to contour the waistline as well. 

Grant Stevens, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 148 reviews

Tummy tuck vs. liposuction - which is better?

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
4.9 out of 5 stars 178 reviews

Tummy Tuck or Lipo

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.

Darryl J. Blinski, MD
Miami Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 174 reviews

Tummy Tuck or liposuction: which one do I choose?

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
4.9 out of 5 stars 82 reviews

Tummy Tuck or lipo?

One common myth I hear during consultations is that a Tummy Tuck and liposuction are the same thing and are interchangeable. This is untrue. The two procedures address different things. While liposuction of the abdomen removes excess fat deposits it does not address the skin or 'pooch' that is left behind. Liposuction also does not address the muscle separation that often results from pregnancy. A Tummy Tuck contours the physique. It tightens the skin and muscles of the abdomen. It is designed to remove excess sagging skin and correct abdominal muscle separation.

Francis X. Fleming, MD
Kennewick Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Do I need a Tummy Tuck?

Hi Jame! Thank you for your question.  I get this question a lot.  Liposuction only addresses the fat component behind the skin.  It is a wonderful procedure if you have good quality skin and does wonders for contouring and minimizing areas of Lipodystrophy.  An Abdominoplasty will get rid of poor quality skin (ie stretch marks below the naval, laxity of skin, and possible old existing scars), fat in the lower abdomen and tightens up the abdominal wall on the inside.  Your PS should evaluate all of these components and your exact concerns.  Most of the time I combine the two procedures if that patient is a good candidate.  Just always remember that you can not exercise skin and that you can always do Liposuction first and come back and address the other issues later.  Always up to the patient.  Good Luck.

Shelby Brantley, MD
Jackson Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 31 reviews

Tummy Tuck or Liposuction?

It is difficult to say if you would need liposuction or a tummy tuck without first examining you.

It will depend on your skin laxity around the abdominal area and what exacty the patient wants to achieve. Some patients want to look good in clothes but don't care if they have loose skin in the abdominal area.

Some patients want to have a bikini stomach -- in this case, unless the patient has no damaged skin and good elasticity, a tummy tuck would be the best way to go.
Your doctor can tell you after he examines you.
Best Wishes.

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,504 reviews

Tummy tuck vs. liposuction

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
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 40 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.