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Tummy Tuck Vs Liposuction: Which Is Best?

Tummy Tuck Vs Liposuction: Which Is Best?

If you are concerned about stubborn, excess weight or skin around your midsection, you may be considering a tummy tuck or liposuction procedure. Both types of plastic surgery effectively address cosmetic issues around the midsection; however, the type of surgery that’s right for you will depend on your specific needs and concerns, including whether you wish to address loose or drooping skin.

What Is a Tummy Tuck?

A tummy tuck, also known as abdominoplasty, is a type of cosmetic surgery that involves the removal of loose abdominal skin and fat around the midsection. During a tummy tuck, your surgeon can also tighten weak abdominal muscles, and restore muscles that have weakened or become separated. A tummy tuck surgery creates a firmer profile and a more sleek, proportionate silhouette. This type of surgery may be ideal for those who have loose or excess skin due to dramatic weight loss or other significant body changes, such as pregnancy.

A before-and-after comparison of a tummy tuck procedure, showing a sagging abdomen on the left and a flat, toned abdomen on the right.

Other Types of Abdominoplasty

There are a number of types of abdominoplasty, separate from a complete tummy tuck procedure. One type of abdominoplasty is the mini tummy tuck, which is a less invasive procedure that is ideal for those who are already at or near their goal weight and are in good physical shape, and who would like to have a more minimal amount of excess skin and fat removed. A mini tummy tuck is often combined with liposuction, and is overall a less invasive procedure than a full abdominoplasty, meaning the recovery time is much shorter. 

A belt lipectomy, also known as a male tummy tuck, is a procedure designed to remove excess abdominal skin and excess fat, but is tailored for men. This procedure removes skin that has lost its elasticity and does not “bounce back”, without affecting the belly button or abdominal muscle tone. 

What Is Liposuction?

Liposuction is a type of body contouring procedure that removes localized fat through aspiration, or suction, through small, hidden incisions. In addition, modern liposuction also “melts away” excess and unwanted fat using laser, radiofrequency, or ultrasound energy. At SpaMedica, liposuction surgeries involve the use of energy-assisted devices such as SmartLipo™, BodyTite™, and VASERLipo™. Most procedures are performed with local anesthesia, and recovery takes a maximum of three weeks.

Before-and-after comparison of liposuction on a person's profile view, showing a fuller abdomen and hip on the left, and a slimmer contour on the right

The result is a smooth, sleek silhouette. Liposuction can be performed on the stomach and midsection, or anywhere else on the body where there is excess, unwanted, stubborn fat. 

Can Fat Return After Liposuction?

The specific fat cells that are removed during liposuction will not grow back. However, it is still possible for the remaining fat cells to grow larger, even after your liposuction procedure, if you do not follow a healthy diet and lifestyle. You will not likely gain weight in the area where your liposuction was performed, as your body will not produce new fat cells there after your treatment, but you will be able to gain weight elsewhere. This will negatively affect the results of your liposuction procedure by altering the smooth, proportionate silhouette created during your surgery. 

Do the Procedures Have Anything in Common?

In the case of both liposuction and abdominoplasty, surgery can be performed to smooth and contour the midsection, including the stomach and hips. Some abdominoplasty procedures are combined with liposuction, to create a more pronounced, contoured result. 

The Main Differences Between a Tummy Tuck and Liposuction

A tummy tuck or abdominoplasty is more commonly performed on an individual who is addressing excess, loose skin around their midsection, in addition to stubborn, excess fat. This type of procedure is ideal for those who are not simply looking to reduce fat cells, but also to remove sagging skin, tighten muscles, and improve their overall silhouette.

Liposuction is performed on an individual who is looking to reduce or eliminate excess fat cells. Liposuction patients are less likely to have an excess of drooping skin, and their area of concern is primarily the reduction of fat cells. It can be performed on the midsection, or anywhere else on the body where there is unwanted fat, such as the thighs, hips, buttocks, or arms. 

Who It’s for

Candidates for both a tummy tuck and liposuction should be in general good health, and who have either unwanted pockets of localized fat (liposuction) or excess, drooping skin (abdominoplasty). In both cases, patients should be close to their goal weight, and have realistic expectations about their surgery results. While some reduction in overall body weight will result from either procedure, these procedures should not be viewed as weight-loss strategies.

How the Procedure Is Performed

For liposuction, patients are put under local or general anesthesia. A small incision is made near the treatment area, and a probe is inserted to begin the liquefaction of fat. Then, the fat is aspirated (removed) from the body using a small device called a cannula. 

For a tummy tuck, the patient is also put under local or general anesthesia. The abdominal skin is lifted, and weak abdominal muscles are repaired. Excess skin is then trimmed and stitched together. In some abdominoplasty procedures, a new opening must be made for the belly button (this is not the case for male tummy tucks). 

Your Recovery Time

Tummy tuck patients generally fully recover within 2-4 weeks. Liposuction patients typically recover after one week. In both cases, it’s important to follow the detailed recovery instructions provided by your surgeon, to minimize any risks or complications.

The Results

With both types of procedure, the result is a smoother, more sleek silhouette. With a tummy tuck, patients will see a reduction in excess skin and fat, and tighter stomach muscles, where liposuction patients — who are less likely to have concerns with drooping skin — will see the reduction in localized fat. 

The Cost

Liposuction varies in cost, depending on the size of the area being treated. Small zones begin at $4,999, while large zones begin at $6,999. Abdominoplasty procedures begin at $8,999.

Can You Combine a Tummy Tuck with Liposuction?

Yes, you can combine a tummy tuck with liposuction. In fact, many procedures — such as a mini tummy tuck or mommy makeover — combine both types of body contouring procedures. While it is possible to be concerned just with excess skin or excess fat, many patients find that they have both issues around their midsection; combining the removal of excess skin, which takes place during abdominoplasty, with the melting of localized fat deposits that occurs during a liposuction is often the best way to accomplish a flatter, more toned midsection and proportionate silhouette. 

Which Procedure Is Best for You?

Whether you choose liposuction or abdominoplasty, or choose to combine the two, the type of plastic surgery that is best for you depends on your individual areas of concerns and desired outcomes. While it is most likely that, if excess skin is your primary concern, an abdominoplasty is the ideal choice, it may be the case that combining this procedure with liposuction will yield the best results. When you schedule your consultation with Dr. Bell or another one of the experienced plastic surgeons at SpaMedica, they will work with you to determine the best procedure for your needs, in addition to discussing your desired outcomes and recovery plan. 

Contact SpaMedica to book your consultation, and begin your journey towards a more proportionate, pleasing silhouette today! 

Dr. Thomas Bell | SpaMedica

by Dr. Thomas Bell

Dr. Tom Bell, with over 25 years of practice experience dedicated to cosmetic plastic surgery, pioneered Avenue Road and Yorkville as Toronto’s Beverly Hills of plastic surgery with his first surgical center in Yorkville’s Avenue road corridor back in 1986. Named as Canada’s best plastic surgeon by W magazine and one of the world’s best, Dr. Bell returns home to join the SpaMedica Plastic Surgery team as the reigning King of Plastic Surgery.
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