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What’s The Difference Between Liposuction And A Tummy Tuck?

By: Austin-Weston


Chances are, you have heard of both liposuction and the tummy tuck. You may even know some of the basics about each procedure, including the fact that both can be useful in helping people achieve a slimmer and more appealing contour. However, there are several key differences between the tummy tuck and liposuction, and it is important to understand these when trying to determine which procedure is right for you. The experienced plastic surgeons at Austin-Weston, The Center for Cosmetic Surgery are dedicated to helping Northern Virginia patients sort through the sometimes confusing world of cosmetic surgery and find the procedure(s) that can best help them accomplish their ultimate aesthetic goals.

If you are looking for ways to trim down your midsection, both liposuction and the tummy tuck could have potential benefits for you. In order to decide which one may be more appropriate for your particular case, it is important to first understand some of the basics about each procedure.

What is liposuction?

Liposuction on its own is a minimally invasive surgery that is usually performed for the primary purpose of eliminating stubborn deposits of fat around the body. In many cases, liposuction is performed as the first step of a larger procedure, such as a Brazilian butt lift, or in conjunction with other surgeries, like a mommy makeover.

What is a tummy tuck?

The tummy tuck, formally known as an abdominoplasty, is a surgical procedure designed to remove excess skin from the abdomen. In cases where the abdominal muscles have weakened and separated, which often happens with pregnancy or significant weight fluctuation, the surgeon can re-tighten the abdominal fascia during a tummy tuck.

What are the differences between liposuction and a tummy tuck?

While both procedures can produce stunning results, the main difference between a tummy tuck and liposuction lies in its purpose. A tummy tuck is designed to remove excess, loose, stretched out skin from the abdomen, while liposuction is used to remove fat – not skin – from various areas of the body. In many cases, however, patients can enhance the results of their tummy tuck procedure with the addition of liposuction, making the two complementary procedures. Some of the other noteworthy differences between liposuction and a tummy tuck include:

Incisions required

Liposuction is a minimally invasive procedure, requiring only very tiny incisions in the areas being treated. A tummy tuck, on the other hand, is a relatively significant surgery during which the surgeon will make a lengthy incision horizontally across the lower abdomen. The specific length of the incision will depend on the amount of excess skin that needs to be removed.


As a result of the larger incision required for a tummy tuck, the procedure will result in a visible scar. However, the talented surgeons at Austin-Weston, The Center for Cosmetic Surgery are highly experienced in placing incisions strategically so that the resulting scars can be easily concealed under clothing and swimsuits. Patients who undergo liposuction will be left with tiny scars that are often so small and fade so much that they are barely visible after a few years. 

Recovery period

Though it may sound quite casual, a tummy tuck is actually a fairly involved procedure and requires an extended recovery period. Most tummy tuck patients plan to take several weeks off of work and have regular help around the house, as their mobility will be severely limited immediately after surgery. Patients who undergo liposuction can typically go back to work within a week, depending on the extent of the procedure and whether or not any other treatments were performed. Wound care is minimal, thanks to the small incisions, but patients will need to wear compression garments for several weeks to help reduce swelling and promote proper healing.

Possible results

There is no denying both liposuction and a tummy tuck are capable of producing beautiful results. However, it can be argued that a tummy tuck gives patients the opportunity for a more dramatic transformation when compared to liposuction alone. Liposuction patients must understand that there is a limit to the amount of fat that can be removed during the procedure, and it is designed to eliminate small to moderate deposits of fat. While the tummy tuck certainly has limitations as well, surgeons are generally able to excise a relatively large volume of excess skin and sculpt the patient’s abdomen far beyond what is possible with liposuction. 

Should I get a tummy tuck or liposuction? 

If you are having trouble understanding whether liposuction or a tummy tuck may be most useful for you, the first question to ask yourself is whether your major concern is excess skin or stubborn fat. The best way to determine whether liposuction, a tummy tuck, or both, may be most appropriate for you is to be evaluated by a qualified, certified, and experienced plastic surgeon in Northern Virginia. Call Austin-Weston, The Center for Cosmetic Surgery to schedule your one-on-one consultation with one of our plastic surgeons today, and discover how getting the body of your dreams may be easier than you think!


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