Liposuction vs. Tummy Tuck

The midsection is one of the most common ‘problem areas’ on the body. Belly fat is hard to lose and often resistant to diet and exercise. In addition, some people may have an extra bulge in the abdomen area from pregnancy, weight fluctuations, or a genetic predisposition to holding excess fat in the abdomen. For some, plastic surgery is the most effective way to achieve a smooth, flat stomach.

Liposuction and tummy tuck surgery can drastically change the look and shape of your midsection. However, the two procedures are significantly different. Read on to learn more about these common body contouring procedures to discover which approach is best for you, your goals, and your lifestyle.

Lipo Vs. Tummy Tuck: What’s the Difference?

These two cosmetic surgeries are vastly different from the best candidates to the desired results. Here’s a deeper look at the results, procedure invasiveness, pain levels, recovery, and costs.

What Results Can You Expect?

 Choosing between a tummy tuck or liposuction procedure largely depends on your desired results. For example, liposuction does not address excess skin, lax muscles, or stretch marks. Lipo eliminates isolated areas of unwanted fat from various areas of the body, including the arms, legs, abdomen, chest, back, chin, neck, buttocks, and hips. Liposuction permanently removes fat cells to slim and contour the treatment area. Liposuction in the abdominal area may include the lower belly below the navel, waist, and lower back.

On the other hand, tummy tuck surgery or abdominoplasty can tighten lax abdominal muscles and remove excess fat to completely transform the appearance of the stomach. If you have loose abdominal skin after losing weight or post-pregnancy, usually the best way to achieve a flat stomach and restore abdominal strength is with plastic surgery, like a tummy tuck procedure.

How Invasive Are the Procedures?

 Liposuction is a much less invasive procedure compared to a tummy tuck. Lipo can be performed under local anesthesia rather than general anesthesia for most patients, meaning you’ll remain awake. Liposuction procedures are generally quick and only require several small incisions, which allow a small tube called a cannula to be inserted into the treatment areas. The cannula sucks out fat deposits to contour the body.

Tummy tuck surgery is more invasive, requiring a larger incision and general anesthesia, meaning you’ll be asleep throughout the entire procedure. A board-certified plastic surgeon will make incisions that run horizontally between the hips and sometimes around the belly button. The surgeon will cut loose skin and tissue and manually tighten loose or lax abdominal muscles. The incisions are closed with sutures across the lower abdomen, and there is usually a visible scar.

What is Recovery Like?

 The recovery times for lipo are faster than tummy tuck recovery. Liposuction is an outpatient procedure, and most patients can resume light activity within 2-3 days post-op. Swelling, bruising, and minor pain are common but should subside within a few days. Most patients manage pain with over-the-counter pain medications. You’ll also be given a compression garment to help with the healing process. In most cases, liposuction patients can resume moderate to strenuous activity after 2-3 weeks.

 Recovering from a tummy tuck is a longer, more painful process. Most patients will rest for 2-3 weeks before returning to work or light activity. The pain is attributed to the incisions and the tightening of the abdominal wall during a tummy tuck procedure. Prescription pain medication is often given to help ease any pain or discomfort. Patients usually return to moderate or strenuous activity only after 3 months post-op, which gives the muscles and incisions time to heal fully.

What About Scarring?

 Like any surgical procedure, there is a risk of scarring. The risks of developing visible or long-lasting scars are much lower after liposuction compared to a tummy tuck procedure. Modern liposuction techniques only require tiny incisions typically hidden by undergarments or bikini bottoms. Tummy tuck incisions are more prominent and may extend from the right to the left hip and around the belly button.

FUPA liposuction (Left) - Monsplasty (Pubic Lift) (Right)

Quick Comparison: Lipo & Tummy Tuck

 When you’re deciding which procedure is right for your body, keep the following in mind.


  • Minimally invasive
  • Permanently removes unwanted fat cells from the body
  • Can be performed almost anywhere on the body
  • Sculpts and rejuvenates the treatment area
  • Leaves minimal scarring
  • Short recovery times.
  • Can go back to work within a few days
  • Can be incorporated as a step in other body contouring procedures

Tummy Tuck:

  • Requires general anesthesia
  • Tightens the abdominal muscles
  • Removes excess skin
  • Leaves a scar on the abdomen
  • Recovery time is up to six weeks on average
  • May include lipo to address stubborn fat deposits.


Procedure Costs: Liposuction & Tummy Tuck

 Liposuction costs usually depend on how much stubborn fat is removed and the side of the areas treated. Minor liposuction procedures can start at around $2,000, while more in-depth techniques treating several sites at once can cost up to $8.000. Tummy tuck surgery is more complex and requires general anesthesia, which adds to the overall cost. Tummy tuck surgery can range anywhere from $6,000 to $10,000.

Each patient is unique. So the only way to get a detailed quote on any type of plastic surgery is to meet with your doctor for a consultation.

Liposuction vs. Tummy Tuck: Which is Better?

 One surgical procedure isn’t necessarily better than the other – it all boils down to your body goals!

If you have intact stomach muscles and good skin elasticity but struggle with excess fat, lipo can be a practical fat removal technique to help create the body you desire. Liposuction permanently removes stubborn subcutaneous fat on the stomach, leaving you with a slim waistline and a more toned abdomen.

If you recently experienced weight loss, you may have a considerable amount of loose or sagging skin in your midsection. You can not remove excess skin with liposuction alone. If you have loose abdominal skin, the best way to achieve a flat stomach is with a tummy tuck.

Both cosmetic procedures can help boost your confidence and self-esteem and make a life-changing impact on your appearance. Depending on your plans for your appearance, select the approach that aligns with your goals.


Who is a Good Candidate for Lipo or a Tummy Tuck?

 You might be a better candidate for lipo or a tummy tuck, or both. There’s also a chance you may not qualify for either. Check out common things to look for when figuring out if you’re a good candidate.

The best candidates for liposuction generally:

  • Are within 20 pounds of their ideal body weight
  • Have maintained a steady weight for at least one year
  • Have no history of complex medical conditions
  • Do not have loose muscles or excess (sagging) skin
  • Wish to have pockets of isolated fat removed that are diet and exercise-resistant
  • Don’t smoke and lead a generally healthy lifestyle

The best candidates for abdominoplasty generally:

  • Have been pregnant or experienced significant weight loss
  • Have excess, loose, or sagging skin
  • Have problems related to lax or loose muscles
  • Want to remove fat and tighten the skin
  • Have no history of complex medical conditions
  • Don’t smoke and lead a generally healthy lifestyle

Other Body Contouring Procedures

 There is no one size fits all treatment sculpting the body. In some cases, you may benefit from one or a combination of cosmetic procedures to achieve your desired results. For example, some patients may have a tummy tuck and liposuction combined for a smoother, more toned middle. Others may opt for a breast augmentation, breast lift, mommy makeover, or even a facelift combined with lipo or another procedure to achieve the best results.

In most cases, it’s safe to combine liposuction with other more invasive surgeries, and in some cases, the fatty tissue removed may be reinjected in the body. For example, fat cells can be harvested, sterilized, and reinjected into the breast for a natural breast augmentation or in the buttocks for a BBL procedure.


Book Your Consultation Today

Not sure if you’re a good candidate for liposuction? If you’re ready to give your body a makeover, book a consultation at Phoenix Liposuction today to learn more about our fat removal procedures. We’re here to do everything we can to help you look and feel your best.


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