Liposuction vs. Tummy Tuck—Which Is Better?

Woman with tape measure around her waist

Many people don’t know which procedure will better meet their needs: a tummy tuck or liposuction. At our practice near Atlanta, we offer both procedures, which, when combined with a healthy lifestyle, can improve body contours. While a tummy tuck may be the best solution for one patient, liposuction could be ideal for another. Hopefully, this post can help you decide if a tummy tuck, liposuction, or a combination of both could be right for you.


Both surgeries require that you be at a healthy BMI and a stable weight. You must be physically and mentally healthy and have no medical conditions that put you at high risk during or after surgery. All cosmetic surgery patients should have realistic expectations for their results and understand that neither of these surgeries is intended for weight loss or a substitute for a healthy diet and exercise.

To undergo liposuction, a person should have any medical conditions under control. When fat is removed, the skin must shrink to fit the new, slimmer contours. If a patient does not have good skin elasticity, sagging, and contour irregularities are more likely after the procedure.

Tummy Tuck
On the other hand, excess, sagging skin is the hallmark of most tummy tuck candidates. They may also have muscle laxity due to aging, genetics, pregnancy, or weight loss. Though not mandatory, it may be a good idea to wait until you are done having children to have a tummy tuck. Pregnancy may warrant a follow-up procedure.

Treatment Areas

Liposuction is versatile in that it can be performed on several areas on the body. Men often get liposuction on the neck, chest, abdomen, and flanks. Women typically choose liposuction on the neck, upper arms, abdomen, buttocks, thighs, and calves. You can learn more about areas that can benefit from liposuction in this related blog post.

Tummy Tuck
A tummy tuck corrects a sagging, protruding abdominal area. It can restore a flat, firm tummy and give you a more defined waist.


During a liposuction procedure, your surgeon will make small incisions and insert a thin tube called a cannula, which will break up and suction out excess fat. It can be performed using local or general anesthesia.

Tummy Tuck
A tummy tuck requires a horizontal incision between the hipbones and another incision around the belly button. Separated abdominal muscles are repaired and excess skin is removed from the abdomen. The remaining skin is pulled taut and the incision is sutured closed. Tummy tuck surgery requires general anesthesia.

You can view an animation of the tummy tuck process in this video by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

Recovery Processes

After liposuction, you may feel stiff and sore for a few days and bruising is normal. You will wear a compression garment for the first few weeks to control the swelling. You should begin walking around as soon as possible but should avoid strenuous activity for several weeks. Some patients can return to work after a few days depending on the extent and area of the treatment.

Tummy Tuck
After your tummy tuck, you will typically have bandages and drains for approximately a week. You will also wear a compression garment for several weeks to help with healing. You will not be able to stand upright at first, but you should begin walking as soon as possible. Many patients can return to a desk job after 10 to 14 days. Strenuous work or activities should be avoided for 4 to 6 weeks.


Fat removal from liposuction is immediate, but you won’t be able to see the final results until the swelling goes down. After a few months, you will be able to enjoy your new body, and your most troublesome areas won’t be an issue anymore. Often patients are inspired by their new look and go on to lose more weight or get into better physical shape. Check out our liposuction photo gallery for before and after photos of patients.

Tummy Tuck
After a few weeks of recovering from your surgery, you will be able to see your new, slimmer, flatter waist and abdomen. Often patients express that their only regret is not having the procedure done sooner. In our tummy tuck photo gallery, you can see the drastic improvement for some of our patients.
The best way to determine which of these two procedures is right for you is to consult with a plastic surgeon. Both procedures, when performed by a qualified surgeon on the right candidate, can improve confidence and body image.

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