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Tummy Tuck vs. Lipo

  • Neodyne
  • September 8, 2021

If you are considering liposuction or a tummy tuck to accelerate fat loss, you may be unsure which to choose. While both procedures aim for similar results, there are different benefits, risks, and recovery considerations to think about. In this post, we'll provide a definition for tummy tucks and liposuction, and compare their differences.

Read on for an in-depth overview of tummy tucks vs. lipo, or use the links below to navigate throughout the article.

What is a Tummy Tuck?

A tummy tuck, also known as an abdominoplasty, is a surgical procedure in which excess skin and fat are removed from the abdomen through an incision just above the pubic area. In addition to fat and loose skin removal, tummy tucks typically involve tightening the abdominal muscles to reveal a more contoured look. Finally, the remaining skin and fat will be repositioned over the abdomen and a new hole will be created for the navel. It's important to consider that tummy tucks do leave permanent scarring near the pubic area so that they can easily be concealed by undergarments.

Although they are not a replacement for weight loss, tummy tucks may be performed if you have excess fat or skin as a result of:

  • Significant weight loss
  • Pregnancy
  • Abdominal surgery, such as a C-section
  • Aging
  • Natural body changes
Man's stomach being pinched by

Benefits of a Tummy Tuck

The benefits of a tummy tuck vary depending on the desired outcome. Cosmetic benefits of a tummy tuck may include:

  • Enhanced self-confidence
  • Clothing fits better
  • Slimmer, more toned appearance

In addition to cosmetic benefits, tummy tucks may offer several medical benefits, including:

  • Correction of ventral hernia
  • Alleviate stress from urinary incontinence
  • Decrease back pain
  • Improve posture

Who is a good candidate for a tummy tuck?

Before undergoing a tummy tuck, it's important to determine whether or not you're a good candidate.

According to PlasticSurgery.org, the following may indicate that you're a good candidate for a tummy tuck:

  • You are physically healthy and have maintained a stable weight for a substantial period of time
  • You have realistic expectations and are committed to a healthy lifestyle henceforth
  • You are a nonsmoker
  • You would like to alter the appearance of your abdomen

What is Liposuction?

Liposuction, commonly abbreviated as "lipo," is a cosmetic procedure where a surgeon will suction fat from specific areas of the body (i.e. arms, hips, thighs, abdomen, buttocks). As fat is removed, liposuction helps create a contoured, slimmer look in the areas where the procedure was performed. Liposuction is much less invasive than abdominoplasty, only requiring a small incision in the treated area. Therefore, liposuction scarring is typically less visible than tummy tuck scars.

Although it is not considered an alternative to weight loss, lipo can be a good option for fat loss in areas that have not responded to diet and exercise. Liposuction is most often performed in the following areas:

  • Abdomen
  • Upper arms
  • Buttocks
  • Calves and ankles
  • Chest and back
  • Hips and thighs
  • Chin and neck

In addition to cosmetic applications, lipo may also be used to treat medical conditions, such as:

  • Lymphedema
  • Gynecomastia
  • Lipodystrophy syndrome
  • Extreme weight loss after obesity
  • Lipomas

With proper weight management, results from lipo may be permanent. However, it is important to note that the skin adapts to the contoured shapes of the treated areas after liposuction. The skin will appear smooth if you have a good skin tone and elasticity, but if your skin is thin and brittle, the skin in the treated regions may appear loose. Cellulite dimpling, stretch marks, and other skin surface abnormalities are not improved with liposuction.

Facelift before and after

Benefits of Liposuction

The benefits of liposuction vary by individual, but may include:

  • Improved sense of confidence
  • More contoured, toned appearance
  • Permanent removal of fat cells
  • Improved health, as a result of fat loss
  • Reduction in pain or discomfort from extra fat and skin
  • Treatment for certain medical conditions

Who is a good candidate for liposuction?

Like any surgical procedure, liposuction has associated risks. To be considered a good candidate for lipo, you should:

  • Be within 30% of your goal weight
  • Have skin with high elasticity
  • Have good muscle tone
  • Not have any medical conditions that may complicate the surgery or pose additional risks (i.e. coronary artery disease, restricted blood flow, diabetes, weakened immune system).
  • Be a non-smoker
  • Be devoted to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and have specific body contouring goals in mind.
Woman with pre-surgery markings

Difference Between Tummy Tuck and Lipo

As you research and compare the difference between a tummy tuck and lipo, keep these points in mind:

  • Liposuction removes the tissue beneath skin and fat but not any excess skin.
  • Tummy tucks remove excess fat and skin and reposition the remaining skin.
  • Liposuction is a much less invasive procedure than tummy tucks.
  • Liposuction is a better fit for small deposits of fat, whereas tummy tucks remove larger portions of fat and skin.
  • Tummy tucks are best suited for healthy individuals who have abdominal fat that has not subsided with diet and exercise.
  • Tummy tucks are only performed in the abdominal area, while liposuction can be used to remove fat from the limbs, buttocks, chin, and more.

Which is the best option for me: a tummy tuck or lipo?

If you have loose skin on your stomach, a tummy tuck is more likely to deliver the results you're looking for as it removes excess fat and skin. Liposuction, on the other hand, is probably the best option for you if you just have a few little pockets of fat around your waist or under your arms that you'd like to get rid of.

Do you need lipo with a tummy tuck?

No, liposuction is not a prerequisite for a tummy tuck. However, liposuction may accompany a tummy tuck depending on the individual's desired results and physical condition.

While adding lipo to your tummy tuck is optional, doing so may lead to better results and a more straightforward recovery. The potential benefits of a lipoabdominoplasty include:

  • One surgery can target exercise-resistant fat and address excess skin.
  • Your plastic surgeon may be able to eliminate the need for post-surgical drains by using a layered suturing technique.
  • You can maximize your body contouring results by incorporating both methods.

Which costs more — tummy tuck or lipo?

As a less invasive surgery, liposuction ranges between $4,000 and $8,000, whereas a tummy tuck costs between $6,000 and $10,000.

Which is more dangerous?

Because it is more invasive and requires reconstruction of the abdominal muscles, tummy tucks are considered more dangerous than liposuction. Before moving forward with either procedure — tummy tuck vs. lipo — make sure to have an honest and clear conversation with your surgeon about the potential risks involved.

Need help finding a plastic surgeon? Refer to our find a plastic surgeon directory to browse embrace® providers near you.

Wrapping Up

Both tummy tucks and liposuction can help you achieve your aesthetic and personal health goals, but it's important to consider the differences in order to determine which is best for you. Use this guide as a starting point to help you begin your research. And remember, whether you elect to have abdominoplasty or liposuction, embrace® can help.

While they vary in size, the surgical scars left behind from lipo and tummy tucks can be distracting and undesirable. embrace® silicone scar sheets help minimize scarring with clinically proven results. For more information on scar therapy, check out our patient testimonials and before and after photos.