What's the difference between liposuction and tummy tuck?

What's less painful tummy tuck or liposuction and how long does it takes

Doctor Answers 8

Liposuction vs. tummy tuck

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Thank you for the question. Tummy tuck and liposuction address different needs so it would help to conduct an in-person exam to give you an individualized answer. 

A tummy tuck offers the most effective way to correct loose skin and muscle separation in addition to eliminating excess fat. Liposuction will also remove fat, but it can't address flabby, hanging skin that typically persists after weight loss. For this reason, many patients who have experienced a massive weight loss or recent pregnancy tend to opt for a tummy tuck.

As for discomfort, you will not experience any pain during the procedure itself since your plastic surgeon will use anesthesia. A tummy tuck will involve more bruising and a more prolonged recovery since it's a more invasive procedure. If you pick a qualified surgeon and carefully follow the post-op instructions, however, you should not experience any complications.

The bottom line is a full tummy tuck will not only remove excess fatty tissue, but also eliminate excess skin and correct abdominal muscles that have been separated and weakened by lack of physical activity or pregnancy. 

An in-person exam with a board certified plastic surgeon is always the best way to fully assess your needs and address your concerns. Best of luck!

Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 121 reviews

Difference between Tummy Tuck and Liposuction

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Tummy tuck is a procedure that will remove excess skin and fat from the lower abdomen. This procedure will also tighten the underlying muscles of the tummy. An incision is needed from hip to hip and usually drainage tubes are placed with recovery being about 2 weeks.   Liposuction is a procedure that will reduce some of the fat under the skin using a thin instrument inserted through the skin requiring a very small incision. As for discomfort or pain the Tummy Tuck will be a longer recovery and maybe a bit more uncomfortable due to the tightening of the muscles. A Board Certified Plastic Surgeon can give you advice as to which procedure will benefit you best.

Eric Schaffer, MD
San Antonio Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 27 reviews

Difference between TT and liposuction

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Great question. 

Basically, liposuction is used to remove excess fat only. Your skin must be examined to see if it has the ability to retract after the procedure. If it is too loose (damaged, stretched out, etc), you will not be a good candidate. A TT actually removes the entire area between your belly button and the top of your mons pubis. This allows to have access to your abdominal muscles which can then be plicated and create a flatter tummy. I often place a large piece of mesh to help keep your tummy flat for years to come. It is advised to be done with pregnancies when considering mesh placement. The mesh acts as an internal girdle of sorts that also helps to maintain a healthy weight. A TT, because of its more extensive involvement, requires a longer recovery time and is more painful.

Best wishes and kind regards, 

Gary M. Horndeski, MD
Texas Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 230 reviews

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What's the difference between liposuction and tummy tuck?

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Liposuction is the process of removing fat with a blunt instrument called a cannula under suction. It assumes that the skin elasticity is satisfactory. A TT is a procedure whereby excess skin is removed due to pregnancy(ies) and/or increased weight loss. This is usually accompanies by tightening the abdominal muscles which have become stretched and moved apart. A TT is a larger caliber procedure with a longer recuperation. But a TT is very common either as an isolated procedure or as part of a Mommy-makeover.

Tummy tuck vs liposuction

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This is one of the most common questions that are posed by my patients. Briefly, tummy tuck involves an incision so that loose skin can be tucked (cut away) from the lower abdomen but can also include some liposuction to sculpt away unwanted fat from the nearby areas. Liposuction involves the use of a narrow tube inserted via small incisions (about 1 cm long) to suction out the fat deposits. It WILL NOT tighten skin nor will it tighten lax muscle. So, if you are pleased with your figure except for some redundant fatty deposits (and your skin is snug and there is no muscle laxity such as from child bearing) then liposuction alone may be your best choice. If any of the other features are present, then a tummy tuck is appropriate.

Tad Grenga, MD, FACS
Suffolk Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

What's the difference between liposuction and tummy tuck?

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Liposuction will treat excess fat and a TT with treat excess skin. Seek a plastic surgeon that performs hundreds of these procedures, has great reviews and photos, and is an expert in this field.

Ron Hazani, MD, FACS
Beverly Hills General Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 317 reviews

Tummy tuck versus liposuction

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  • It is common for people to wonder which is better for them.  In general liposuction can thin an area of fat, but does not do that much to tighten skin. If you have a lot of lax skin then a tummy tuck is better.
  • The discomfort is not great for either so long as you have some pain meds.  Certainly pain and recovery are not so different that it should influence your decision.  The surgery to give you the best result is the most important consideration.

Rodger Shortt, FRCSC
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 85 reviews

What's the difference between liposuction and tummy tuck?

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Thank you for the question.  

Generally, the tummy tuck operation involves removal of excess skin/adipose tissue of the lower abdominal wall and re approximation of the abdominal wall muscles that may have spread with pregnancies and/or weight gain/loss. Liposuctioning is often used as a tool during the procedure.

Generally speaking, the “ideal” patient for tummy tuck surgery is one who has completed pregnancies, is psycho socially/emotionally/financially stable, has an excellent social support system surrounding him/her, is capable of arranging enough recovery time, does not smoke and who has reached a long-term stable weight.

Liposuction surgery, on the other hand, refers to an operation that essentially suctions out adipose tissue. The operation does not involve any skin removal or re approximation of abdominal wall muscles. The best candidates for liposuction surgery of the abdominal wall are patients with good quality skin elasticity and a moderate degree of diet and exercise resistant adipose tissue superficial to the abdominal wall muscle layer. Patients who are significantly overweight, have significant abdominal wall laxity, and/or have lost a significant amount of skin elasticity are not generally good candidates.

My best suggestion: seek consultation with board-certified plastic surgeons who can demonstrate significant experience helping you achieve the type of outcome you will be pleased with. You may find the attached link, dedicated to tummy tuck surgery concerns, helpful to you as you learn more. Best wishes.

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.