Liposuction vs. Tummy Tuck Surgery: What’s The Difference?

Written by Cameron Craven, MD, FACS, Board Certified Plastic Surgeon on March 12, 2014 24 Comments

tummy tuck vs liposuction

Quick Answer: Tummy tuck surgery (adominoplasty) is best at addressing excess skin and loose muscles. Liposuction targets isolated fat pockets that are resistant to diet and exercise. Tummy tuck procedures are more invasive, requiring general anesthesia and an extensive recovery period. In contracts, liposuction can be done under twilight anesthesia and features relatively little downtime. Continue reading to learn the differences between liposuction and tummy tuck surgery.

Many of our patients that are interested in a flatter stomach ask what the difference is between a tummy tuck and liposuction. After all both procedures can drastically help clients improve the abdominal area by creating a tone and tight midsection. However, liposuction and tummy tuck procedures are actually very different in terms of the results they provide.


Liposuction is ideal for removing localized fatty tissue that is centralized to specific areas (think “buldges”). The tumescent liposuction is specifically effective for safely removing excess stubborn fat. Liposuction is also far less invasive than a tummy tuck, which involves a scarring, general anesthesia, and long recovery times.

Additionally liposuction can be used on many other places of the body than the stomach, including the sides (love handles), arms, chin, legs, and butt.

Liposuction is perfect for people who generally have good skin and muscle tone. These are individuals who do not have issues like excess skin in the midsection or loose abdominal muscles. Often liposuction improves the shape of the patient’s stomach to a point where they look better in and out of clothes; solving the main concern of the patient.

However liposuction will not eliminate extra skin, stretch marks, and issues stemming from loose abdominal muscles. Often these issues can be associated with massive weight loss or pregnancy.

Tummy Tuck

A tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) is a great procedure for removing excess abdominal skin while tightening the abdominal muscles.

The tummy tuck procedure starts with an incision across the lower abdomen allowing a surgeon to remove excess skin and tighten slack muscles. Any remaining skin is then re-draped over the abdominal area leaving a flat and tight stomach.

In short, a tummy tuck is the best solution if the main issue experienced by the patient is loose skin or stretched muscle tissue (not fat).

Which Procedure is better for you?

While both liposuction and tummy tuck are excellent body contouring procedures it’s extremely important to determine what specific issues must be corrected to determine the best course of treatment. If the problem is excess skin or loose abdominal muscles from excessive weight loss a tummy tuck may be your best option. For individuals who just need to improve isolated areas liposuction is usually the best course of treatment.

Still unsure which procedure would be best for you? Contact us today for a free no-obligation consultation.

Cameron Craven, MD, FACS

Cameron Craven MD, FACS is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Dr. Craven specializes in the full spectrum of cosmetic surgery including breast augmentation, liposuction and body contouring, facial rejuvenation, laser surgery, eyelid surgery, and rhinoplasty, as well as reconstructive surgery for skin cancers.

24 Responses to “Liposuction vs. Tummy Tuck Surgery: What’s The Difference?”

  1. Kelsay says:

    I underwent both lipo and a tummy tuck and I look amazing!

  2. Jacqueline says:

    Hi my name is Jacqueline and I just wanted to drop you a quick note here instead of calling you. I came to your Liposuction vs. Tummy Tuck Surgery – Which Is Best? post and just wanted to thank you for such great information. I’m out of state but you helped me out so I just wanted to say thanks!

  3. Mela says:

    What’s the difference between lipo and smartlipo?

  4. Ella says:

    Very helpful post! So am I correct in thinking that liposuction will not address lose skin where as tummy tuck can take care of that?

  5. Debbie says:

    Is it alright to have a tummy tuck after having 3 c-sections? The last one was done 26 years ago!

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Debbie, that’s a great question! Basically it all depends on the specifics of the patient; particularly how they healed after their procedures. If, for example, extensive scar tissue exists that could complicate the procedure.

      Your best bet would be to schedule an in-person consultation with a provider. They will be able to asses your candidicacy and discuss any applicable considerations that must be made. If you are in the Austin-area please feel free to contact us for a free consultation!

      Thanks again for reading and submitting a great question!

      –WD Staff

  6. Chrishuna says:

    I have fibroids that make abdominal weight loss unsuccessful. I am otherwise healthy and would like to get the Physician’s recommendation on liposuction v. Tummy tuck in my case. Thank you

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Chrishuna, Thanks for taking the time to read our post and submitting your question. Unfortunately it will be very hard to recommend a treatment plan without assessing you in person. Are you in the Austin area? If so, please feel free to give us a call to setup a free assessment! Otherwise we would encourage you to seek a consultation with a board certified plastic surgeon in your area.

      It all comes down to specific characteristics of your body. Do you have excess loose skin? Or is the issue fat pockets isolated to specific body areas. This can only be determined with an in-person consultation.

      WD Staff

  7. Ramon says:

    What I liked the most was when you said that liposuction was not only helpful in removing the excessive stubborn fat but also far less invasive than the tummy tuck surgery. I think my sister will settle for a liposuction over a tummy tuck because she does not want to undergo painful surgeries that take months to heal. She wants to look beautiful on her wedding day, so I’m helping her out, otherwise, I wouldn’t agree with it. Thanks. I’ll discuss this again with her.

  8. Ashley says:

    What is the general range of cost for a tummy tuck or Lipo?

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Ashley,

      Thanks for reading our post and submitting your question. In general, it’s very difficult to quote prices as each patient may require a different treatment plan. For both lipo and Tummy Tuck procedures there are numerous different techniques, each with different costs.

      That said, we did a great post to get a general idea of pricing for common cosmetic treatments. Please see this post: It gives price range by metro area (U.S.).

      However, we would encourage you to see a provider for an in-office consultation. That’s the only way to really get the exact cost (and treatment plan) that is right for you!

      If you are in the Austin area, please give us a call!

      WD Staff

  9. Violet says:

    What if you have both loose muscles and excess skin (that lovely “mama apron”) resulting from pregnancy, but also excess fat to remove? Generally speaking, would you do both lipo and a tummy tuck?

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Violet,

      Thanks for reading our post and submitting your great question! You are correct, patients with the characteristics you describe may best benefit from combining a Tummy Tuck procedure with liposuction. However, the only way to know for sure would be to see a plastic surgeon for an in-person consultation. They’ll need to determine the laxity of the skin and underlying muscles to determine the best course of treatment.

      If you’re in the Austin area, please give us a call at 512.328.3376 for a free consultation!

      Thanks again,
      WD Staff

  10. April says:

    Does liposuction get rid of cellulite? Or is it more to get rid of just fat?

  11. Ritika says:

    Hi ,i have done liposuction surgery but my stretch marks are not gone yet …what should i do now should i go for tummy tuck surgery ….??

  12. David says:

    Get both 🙂

  13. Jenna says:

    Thinking about getting a tummy tuck after loosing alot of weight. Thanks for explaining how a surgeon can removed excess skin and is best for extra skin or stretched muscle.

  14. Marjorie says:

    I had a tummy tucks 3 years ago. Is it safe to do liposuction?
    Really the question is can you do liposuction after a tummy tuck
    Thank you

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Marjoire,

      In most cases it is safe to do lipo post tummy tuck. However you may need to visit a board certified plastic surgeon to ensure that you are a good candidate. There are instances where scar tissue from a previous surgery can be problematic. An in-person consultation is the best way to verify a treatment plan and see if you qualify!

      WD Staff

  15. Mike says:

    Can one get both liposuction and a tummy tuck? what cases would that be good for?

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Mike,

      There are cases that require the combination of both procedures. This is often the case for patients who need to remove both excess fat and excess skin. We would advise you to get an in-person consulation with a board certified plastic surgeon in your area to learn if you are a candiate for both procedures!

      WD Staff

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