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Should I Have Liposuction or a Tummy Tuck?

By Dr. Matthew D. McLeod

By Dr. Matthew D. McLeod

If you want to smooth and trim your waistline, there are a couple cosmetic procedures that can help. These are liposuction and tummy tuck (abdominoplasty), and while you may have heard them used interchangeably, they aren’t the same. These very different procedures change your body in different ways.

Liposuction vs. Tummy Tuck: About the Procedure

Both cosmetic surgeries are body sculpting procedures that trim and tighten the waistline, but they differ in terms of how these results are achieved.

Liposuction in Savannah, GA


In the liposuction procedure, small amounts of fat are removed from specific areas of your body using a surgical suction tool. To do this, the cosmetic surgeon makes tiny incisions in the skin, then inserts the tool into the incision. Fat is then removed via suction.

While liposuction can get rid of small amounts of fat from the body, it’s not really a weight loss tool. Instead, it’s more about streamlining your body by removing stubborn pockets of fat that won’t go away despite traditional methods like diet and exercise. If you’re at a healthy weight—or close to it—but you have some fat deposits that just won’t budge, then liposuction could be your best surgical option.

Tummy Tuck

In a tummy tuck procedure, the surgeon removes excess skin from the abdominal region. There are different kinds of tummy tucks, which differ mostly in how much skin is removed, and from where.

  • Mini tummy tuck – Skin is removed from the region below your belly button.
  • Standard tummy tuck – Skin is removed from above and below the belly button area.
  • Extended tummy tuck – Skin is removed from the abdominal region in the front of the body, as well as from the back, above the buttocks.

A tummy tuck is a more invasive procedure than liposuction. It requires making larger incisions, plus the removal of a significant amount of excess skin and fat. Depending on the patient, the surgeon might also tighten the abdominal muscles underlying the skin.

Liposuction vs. Tummy Tuck: How Much Does It Cost?

Tummy Tuck Cost

According to RealSelf, the average price of a tummy tuck is $8,250. How much you pay depends on several factors, such as where you have the procedure and the kind of tummy tuck you have.

The actual amount you pay for a tummy tuck can range from around $3,350 to $13,025. A mini tummy tuck is at the lower end of the range in cost, while an extended tummy tuck is towards the upper end.

Learn More About the Ins and Outs of Tummy Tuck Cost

Liposuction Cost

The average cost of liposuction is $6,150, according to RealSelf. Again, this is an average cost, and the actual amount you pay can vary from $1,600 to $10,425.

The cost of liposuction is so variable because you can have liposuction on more than one part of your body during the same procedure. When you have liposuction, you typically pay a fee for each area from which fat is removed. If you have liposuction in just one or two spots, you’ll pay a lot less than if you have it in multiple different places.

Liposuction vs. Tummy Tuck: What Results Can You Expect?

With both procedures, you can expect a trimmer, more toned-looking abdominal area. Liposuction will smooth out any unwanted lumps or bumps in this region, so liposuction results are a flatter stomach and slimmer waistline. With the tummy tuck surgery, you’ll have a similar result, achieved with the removal of excess skin and abdominal fat. While both procedures can slim and tone your waistline, the removal of extra skin is what gives the tummy tuck the potential for more dramatic results. This is because, if you have excess skin in your abdominal area, it can make you look overweight even when you’re not.

Both procedures give permanent results, as they surgically remove either skin or fat from your body. However, this doesn’t mean your body won’t ever change again. It’s still possible to experience weight gain after a tummy tuck or liposuction, so it’s important to follow a healthy diet and exercise routine if you want to maintain your results.

Liposuction vs. Tummy Tuck: What Is Recovery Like?

Liposuction Recovery

Liposuction is a minimally invasive procedure, as the incisions made by the surgeon are very small. This means your liposuction recovery time is likely to be very quick. You’ll have some swelling as your body heals, but you can resume a normal level of activity in just one or two weeks. Once you’re fully healed from the liposuction, there won’t be any scarring.

Tummy Tuck

This procedure is more invasive than liposuction, with larger incisions, and often the removal of a significant amount of skin and fat. Because of this, the recovery process takes longer, meaning restricted activity for a couple weeks. Because of swelling and other changes to your body as it heals, it takes several months to see the results of your surgery.

Because a tummy tuck surgery involves a larger incision, most patients have a visible scar. However, an experienced surgeon makes a tummy tuck incision so that scarring is hidden by underwear or a bathing suit.

Which Procedure Is Best for You?

If you’re trying to decide between a tummy tuck and liposuction, the best way to choose is to think about what your body goals are. Then choose the procedure that best helps you achieve your goals.

Are you close to your goal weight, but have some stubborn pockets of fat that just won’t go away, even after exercise and dieting? In that case, liposuction is the best option. Liposuction can get rid of that last pound or two and streamline your body.

On the other hand, if pregnancy or weight loss has left you with loose skin in your abdominal area, then a tummy tuck is the best option. A tummy tuck will remove that extra skin, smooth out your abdominal area, and trim your waistline.

A third option is to have both procedures. This can be a good choice if you have both loose abdominal skin and a little extra weight. It’s a popular option with women who have given birth, as pregnancy often results in loose skin, plus extra pounds that are hard to get rid of. Having both procedures together is often done as a mommy makeover—sometimes with a breast augmentation or breast lift—and can give you an even better result than just one or the other.

Ask Your Surgeon for Advice

Not sure which plastic surgery procedure is right for you? Make an appointment for a complimentary surgical consultation for expert advice from a plastic surgeon. They can help you choose the procedure that will best help you meet your body goals, so you can look and feel great.