Tummy Tuck vs. Lipo

So, you’re thinking of getting a tummy tuck or liposuction. It’s definitely something to look forward to; the tummy tuck and liposuction happen to be two of the most effective body contouring procedures in the world. But what makes them different? If you’re not entirely sure which one will help you achieve the body of your dreams, we’ve got you covered with this handy guide to the differences between the tummy tuck and liposuction.

What’s a Tummy Tuck?

A tummy tuck, also known as an abdominoplasty, is a plastic surgery procedure that’s designed to create a flatter, more athletic stomach. It addresses a variety of problems such as loose muscles, excess skin, and stubborn pockets of fat that can’t be removed through exercise.

A tummy tuck is performed by first creating an incision below your navel and above your pubic bone. Then, your surgeon will lift the skin off the underlying tissues, remove excess skin, remove excess fat, and tighten loosened abdominal muscles. After closing the incisions, patients are able to go home on the same day.

Why a Tummy Tuck?

The tummy tuck is especially popular with patients who want to reverse the effects of excess weight loss or pregnancy on the belly. And because the tummy tuck can tighten the abdominal muscles, it can also help women strengthen a core that’s been weakened by pregnancy. Of course, patients who want to remove stubborn pockets of fat that don’t respond to diet and exercise can also have a tummy tuck.

In some cases, patients can qualify for a mini-tummy tuck, a milder form of the tummy tuck. A mini tummy tuck allows patients to have a shorter recovery. But, it’s reserved for patients that that only need mild correction.

What Will a Tummy Tuck Scar Look Like?

The tummy tuck scar usually spans from hip to hip, but the length of the scar will depend on how much tissue needs to be manipulated. It’ll also be located above the pubic bone, so it can be easily hidden by your underwear – even a swimsuit if need be.

Your Recovery from the Tummy Tuck

Patients take around 2 weeks off from work to recover from a tummy tuck. They’ll need to wear a drain in their incisions for around 1-2 weeks to prevent fluid accumulation. To further reduce swelling, patients are also asked to wear a compression garment for 4-6 weeks.

What’s Liposuction?

Liposuction is a plastic surgery treatment that extracts fat from the body to create a sleeker, more athletic figure. It’s performed using a cannula, a narrow hollow tube that gently extracts fat deposits from under the skin. As your cannula extracts the fat from the body, your surgeon will sculpt the remaining fat to create a sleeker, smoother contour.

There are many types of liposuction. The traditional version uses a metal cannula to remove fat. Another version uses ultrasound energy to liquefy the fat for an easier removal. Laser liposuction uses laser energy to remove fat in a way that protects the tissues.

Why Liposuction?

Unlike the tummy tuck, liposuction can be performed almost anywhere in the body. And unlike the tummy tuck, liposuction won’t remove excess skin. In fact, it can worsen the degree of sagging. Because the skin needs to shrink in to the new contours created by liposuction, patients need to have excellent skin elasticity to qualify for the procedure

What Would Liposuction Scars Look Like?

Your surgeon will need to make a few incisions to allow the cannula access to the subcutaneous layer of fat. The good news is that the incisions are quite narrow, and once they heal, the scars only resemble small moles.

Recovery from Liposuction

Which area you treat, what liposuction method you choose, and the extent of the fat removal will determine how long your recovery will be. By and large, patients take 1-2 weeks off work to recover.

They’re also usually asked to wear a compression garment for 4-6 weeks. The garment is crucial for a speedy recovery because it reduces swelling and helps shape the area.

Why Not Both?

Here’s a thought: why not do both? The tummy tuck and liposuction are different enough that they can complement each other. A liposuction won’t just be able to target additional areas of the body, it can also refine the results of a tummy tuck by sculpting the abdomen.  A tummy tuck will also be able to remove excess skin and address loosened abdominal muscles in addition to targeting fat deposits on the belly.

There’s more to learn about the tummy tuck and liposuction. If you’d like to talk to an expert, contact the Maryland Institute of Plastic Surgery for a consultation with one of our board-certified surgeons.