In the realm of body contouring options, two procedures stand out above the rest: abdominoplasty surgery (popularly called a tummy tuck) and liposuction, the surgical “spot treatment” for stubborn pockets of fat. If you’re considering a tummy tuck vs. lipo, I’ll break down your options in this blog post to help you decide which one is right for you.
What’s the Difference Between Liposuction and Tummy Tuck?
Liposuction is a minimally invasive body contouring procedure that breaks up localized fat deposits and suctions them out. It can be used to sculpt multiple body areas, including the:
- Flanks and waistline
- Back, especially along the bra line
- Inner and outer thighs
- Upper arms
- Neck and chin
Tummy tuck surgery specifically focuses on the abdominal area. Patients who have undergone significant weight loss or pregnancy may have separated abdominal muscles (diastasis recti) and sagging, baggy skin that has not retracted to its slimmer form.
In abdominoplasty, your board-certified plastic surgeon repairs the musculature and removes the excess skin (which may include stretch marks and cesarean section scars) to create a tighter, more balanced appearance.
Does a Tummy Tuck Remove Fat?
A tummy tuck can remove fat, but this isn’t the primary focus of the procedure. Tummy tuck is not a weight loss surgery and will only result in a modest change on the scale (typically no more than 10 pounds, depending on how much skin is excised).
Most patients will drop 2 to 3 pant sizes after surgery as excess skin and the protruding belly caused by separated abdominal muscles no longer take up volume in their clothing.
How Does Liposuction Work?
During liposuction, a thin tube called a cannula is inserted into the target area and used to break pockets of fat into smaller pieces that can be suctioned out.
We offer a modern variation called SAFELipo®, an acronym for its three-step process of Separation, Aspiration, and Fat Equalization. This liposuction technique is gentler on the surrounding tissues and blood vessels as it first loosens and separates the fat, then suctions (aspirates) it out of the body. The final step, fat equalization, sculpts the remaining tissue for a smooth, balanced result.
Liposuction is not intended for large-scale fat reduction. Instead, it is better thought of as a “spot treatment” for areas of fat that won’t budge with diet and exercise.
Enhancing a Tummy Tuck With Liposuction
Combining a tummy tuck procedure with liposuction can significantly enhance a patient’s results. Liposuction can remove excess fat around the abdomen for a smoother “base” for the skin to be draped over, while other cosmetic trouble areas, such as love handles or the waist, can be slimmed down to further highlight the abdominoplasty’s achievements.
Tummy tuck and liposuction are both surgical body contouring procedures that can restore patients’ confidence and give them a slimmer, more balanced figure. Which one you should choose depends on your aesthetic goals.
Abdominoplasty is appropriate for patients with significant skin laxity and issues with the underlying muscles, while liposuction is ideal for patients looking for a targeted reduction in fat (around the abdomen or other parts of the body).
A combined procedure, however, often yields the best results. Patients who are good candidates for a tummy tuck can enhance their abdominoplasty with liposuction but can also benefit by treating multiple areas at once for full-body refinement.
Our before-and-after photo gallery can show you the beautiful results both body contouring treatments can achieve. If you are interested in learning more about tummy tuck surgery, we cover what questions you should ask your plastic surgeon in our related blog post.