Smart Lipo or Mini-tummy Tuck?

I'm 33 years old and have three kids all naturally birthed (no c-section).  I am 5 feet tall, 120lbs and in my lower abdomen I have some pockets of fat. It's noticeable when I sit down, it's not saggy, but it certainly doesn't look good.

Do you think I would be a better candidate for Smart Lipo or for a mini tummy tuck?

Doctor Answers 26

Which is better, tummy tuck or smart lipo?

This question arises in my office every day. While I do refer patients to plastic surgeons for tummy tucks occasionally, the majority of patients can be treated with a combination of tumescent liposuction and smart lipo. Notice that I said, tumescent liposuction and smart lipo, not just smart lipo.

What this all comes down to is picking your surgeon wisely. If you go to a dermatologist for your liposuction, there is a good chance that you won't need the tummy tuck, but if you go to a plastic surgeon for it, you probably will get one whether you need it or not. On the other hand, if you go to a 'cosmetic surgeon' du jour (family practice, ObGyn, or 'other'), goodness only knows what you will get, but it won't be good.

The key factor here is making sure that the doctor does excellent tumescent liposuction, because the other part of it, the smart lipo, is only the icing on the cake, while the initial part is where it all will either be made or not. So, choose wisely and hopefully you can get away without having the pain, cost, long recovery time and risk of the tummy tuck as well as the 12 inch scar. Good luck!

Omaha Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 34 reviews


Liposuction is less invasive and quicker to recover from than a Tummy Tuck (abdominoplasty). This is because liposuction only involves removing fat from beneath your skin. Your body will cause the overlying skin to contract only to the degree it is capable, often leaving redundant skin which can be unsightly. In other words, you need good elasticity to get a good result.
A Tummy Tuck involves removing redundant skin and tightening the underlying muscles. Sometimes liposuction is combined as needed with a Tummy Tuck for the best possible result. The question is whether the shape of your abdomen is affected by an excess of fat, skin, muscle separation or laxity, or some combination thereof. This can only be determined by examination, so go ahead and consult with a board certified plastic surgeon. Some of my patients elect to have liposuction first, and then opt for a Tummy Tuck if the results are not satisfying. Smart Lipo offers little or no advantage vs other forms of lipo in my opinion.

Larry S. Nichter, MD, MS, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 102 reviews

Probably tummy tuck

Most ladies who have had three children would benefit from a tummy tuck or abdominoplasty as we call it. This procedure would address the loose skin, underlying fat, and stretched muscles of the abdominal wall. Liposuction of any kind will only address the fat which lives between the muscle and the skin. Liposuction has no effect on the muscles or skin quality. See a Plastic surgeon in consultation who can offer either tummy tuck or liposuction and see which is best for you... If you see a doctor who only offers one option, guess what they will recommend? Remember, if all they have is a hammer, then everything looks like a nail!

Stephan Finical, MD
Charlotte Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

Lipo or Tummy Tuck: Choosing What's Best For Your Anatomy

When patients present with contour irregularities of their abdomen following pregnancy it’s important that they undergo a comprehensive evaluation.  This evaluation should consider muscle strength, skin laxity, abdominal scars, the amount of abdominal fat and the patients overall health.  Based on the findings of this evaluation an appropriate treatment plan can be developed.

This type of comprehensive treatment plan addresses the entire abdomen, not just the subcutaneous fat.  It’s important to realize that some patients will require liposuction, while others may require mini abdominoplasty or abdominoplasty depending upon their particular deformity.  No two patients are alike and the treatment plan needs to be individualized based on the anatomic findings.

Without the ability to perform a physical examination it’s hard to know which option is best for you.  Based on your description you might be a good candidate for liposuction, but in my experience the majority of women who have had three children usually require an abdominoplasty.

It’s important to be evaluated by a plastic surgeon who can perform the entire range of surgical procedures to correct abdominal contour irregularities.  Make sure your surgeon can perform liposuction as well as abdominoplasty.  Make sure he’s not the guy with a hammer so the whole world becomes a nail.

Smart Lipo or Tummy Tuck

If you have had 3 children, a mini tummy tuck is a limited operation in patients that have no excess skin above the umbilicus or have never had children. If you have had children and have any redundant skin, a mini abdominoplasty will not work. Smart Lipo does not work. Smart liposuction is a technology that is largely unproven and if you have any redundant skin, any type of liposuction will not work and will actually make it worse.

Rod J. Rohrich, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 40 reviews

Smart Lipo or Mini Tummy Tuck

This is best answered at your consultation with your Surgeon. A physical examination will evaluate your muscle anatomy to your abdomen that can sometimes be affected by pregnancies, widening the center of the rectus muscle that runs straight down your abdomen and this may cause a projected abdomen. This can only be repaired with a formal abdominoplasty because the plication, or bringing together, of the rectus muscle is done above and below the naval. The amount if fat that lies above your abdominal muscles will also be evaluated to determine if liposuction is appropriate and would give the results you want. Sometimes, weight loss and exercise can be an option too! You may not need a mini tummy tuck with the description given, but again, a physical examination is necessary. 

Pamela Gallagher, MD
Long Island Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

SmartLipo vs. Mini Tummy Tuck: Which is more effective?

Thank you for your question.  Without photos or an examination, it's difficult to fully assess your situation.  However, I can tell you that generally speaking, it depends on the amount of fat as well as the condition of your skin.  You mentioned that it doesn't sag, however, there is only so much skin tightening that SmartLipo can offer, and while the effects are positive, the are unfortunately not guaranteed.  I have, however, successfully used SmartLipo in conjunction with Mini Tummy Tucks to great results.  It's very important to keep in mind that SmartLipo, or any other laser assisted liposuction is just a tool that is used to augment the traditional liposuction procedure.  There is only so much that it can do on it's own.  I recommend that you make an appointment for a consultation with a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon in your area to have a frank discussion regarding your aesthetic goals. 

Mytien Goldberg, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

Must be accessed through an in-person consultation

The appropriate body contouring procedure for your needs can only be accessed through an in-person consultation with a board certified plastic surgeon.  During your consultation, your prospective surgeon will examine your abdomen and talk with you about your cosmetic goals before making a procedure suggestion.  After three children, it is possible that you have some muscle separation and not just pockets of fat that would need to be retightened to achieve a flatter abdomen.  The mini tummy tuck is instead designed to address excess fat and skin instead of muscle.

John L. LeRoy, MD, FACS
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

Smart Lipo vs tummy tuck

Your qyesiton depends on your specific circumstances. Smart lipo will not help to remove that loose skin that has lost elasticity. It may however assist you to remove pockets of fat which create contour abnormailities or slim you down, assuming your skin has good elasticity.

Liposuction vs. Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck)

For patients with young retractable skin and fat deposits (not obesity), liposuction is a good option. Smart lipo is just a trade name and tumescent liposuction actually has fewer complications but either way works well for the right patient. An abdominoplasty is an excellent option for a patient who has had children as your abdominal wall may be stretched (your 6-pack has moved laterally) and part of the prodedure is tightening the underlying fascia giving you a flatter abdomen.

Most importantly, the 2 procedures are not interchangeable. You must go to a surgeon who can perform either procedure and is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Definitely don't have surgery by someone who took a weekend course in any procedure.

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.