Difference Between Tummy Tuck & Liposuction

Both liposuction and tummy tuck can make your mid-section appear flatter, slimmer, and tighter. The key to determining which is the best option for you is the amount of loose skin as well as the type of results you are wanting. Liposuction is used to remove fat in localized areas that are resistant to diet and exercise. The best results are seen in those with good skin elasticity; i.e., young people who have not had significant weight changes or pregnancies. For those who have less elastic skin (ie, older, fluctuations in weight, multiple pregnancies), liposuction is still an option provided they have appropriate expectations regarding the loose skin that is left behind. Liposuction will require 4-6 small incisions, each less than ½ inch long, with a 3-5 day recovery period.

In contrast, a tummy tuck removes excess skin, excess fat, and tightens the vertical abdominal muscles (when needed). Pregnancy and weight changes can stretch out the skin, leading to excess, loose hanging skin. This requires skin excision to achieve a smooth contour. These life events can also lead to weakening of the vertical abdominal muscles (called diastasis) which can be tightened at the time of tummy tuck to create a flatter profile. Since tummy tuck includes skin excision, it necessarily results in a scar. The scar is usually placed low, just above the pubis, but can extend from hip to hip depending on the amount of loose skin. There may also be a scar around the belly button as part of the procedure. The contour changes seen with a tummy tuck are more drastic than those from liposuction alone, but the scar burden is also more significant. Tummy tucks also require significantly longer recovery times compared to liposuction alone, 10-14 days off work and additional activity restrictions for 6 weeks.

Neither of these procedures should be considered a weight loss procedure.