Liposuction vs. Tummy Tuck

Liposuction vs. Tummy Tuck: What’s The Difference

Patients seeking a tighter and flatter stomach often ask about the differences between liposuction vs. tummy tuck. The question makes sense considering both are plastic surgery procedures that target the abdomen. However, beyond these similarities, there are a number of differences between liposuction and tummy tuck. Below, we have outlined some of those differences to help patients determine which surgery is best for them. 

About the Procedures


Liposuction is a procedure that removes excess fat from specific areas of the body. When you gain weight, the size and volume of your fat cells also increase. Liposuction reduces the number of these excess fat cells in specific areas to create a slimmer and contoured body.

Also referred to as lipoplasty, lipo, and body contouring, the procedure typically focuses on areas of the body that don’t respond to diet and exercise, particularly when overall body weight is stable.

While there are several non-invasive body contouring treatments available, only liposuction removes the fat in a consistent, predictable, and permanent manner.

Tummy Tuck

A tummy tuck is a surgical procedure that cosmetically improves the appearance of the abdomen. Formerly known as an abdominoplasty, the procedure removes excess skin and fat from the abdomen, repairs diastasis recti, or muscle separation that can occur from childbirth, and repositions the umbilicus in an aesthetically pleasing site. The end result is a smoother and more toned abdominal area.

Tummy tucks strengthen the lower abdominal wall and remove excess skin and fat that are often the result of weight lost and gained over time due to aging, pregnancy, prior surgery, weight loss surgery, genetics, or other significant weight fluctuations.

Who are the best candidates?

Liposuction and tummy tucks can both target the midsection to flatten the stomach. With that being said, one procedure may be a better option than the other based on a patient’s specific goals.


Liposuction is typically a good fit for patients looking to remove excess fat from specific areas of the body. Liposuction removes excess fat from these target areas very effectively, but it is ultimately a contouring tool that is best for patients who are within 30% of their ideal weight and without significant excess skin. As such, the procedure is also not recommended for obese patients.

Tummy tucks are typically a good fit for patients who want to remove excess fat in the midsection as well as excess skin. Since tummy tucks remove both fat and the resulting excess skin, it should be considered by patients who:

  • are trying to lose weight
  • may have had liposuction but the procedure did not improve the appearance of the abdomen
  • have excess fat or skin after pregnancy
  • have stretch marks
  • are experiencing cellulite
  • have retracted scarring of a c-section or surgical scar
  • have a separation of their abdominal muscles (rectus diastasis) 

How are the procedures different?


Liposuction is generally performed under general anesthesia but can also be performed under IV sedation or under local anesthetic only, based on a patient’s preference. The procedure requires small incisions to be made in natural body creases near the areas to be treated. 

Dr. Mahmood performs suction-assisted lipectomy using a power-assisted device for optimal fat removal, or ultrasound-assisted lipectomy. Suction-assisted lipectomy involves mechanical disruption of the fat with a power-assisted device and cannula to break up the fat and suction it out, and ultrasound-assisted lipectomy involves the use of ultrasonic energy to liquefy the fat and suction it out.

Most patients return to work within several days after liposuction and full recovery takes about one month.

Tummy Tuck

Unlike liposuction, tummy tucks must be performed under general anesthesia. The procedure requires a horizontal incision to be made low in the bikini line, which is a larger incision than liposuction requires.

Dr. Mahmood performs tummy tucks by elevating the abdominal skin flap above the muscle to free up the tissue. She then stretches the skin down firmly to determine the maximum amount of tissue that can be removed. She will then tighten the fascia, which is the covering over the abdominal muscle, with permanent sutures. This corrects the rectus diastasis and provides an ‘internal corset.’ The skin around the belly button is then re-positioned and the bellybutton is inset into a natural position. Tummy tucks can also be combined with liposuction for a more sculpted waistline.

Most patients return to work approximately 1 week after a tummy tuck and full recovery takes about 4 to 6 weeks. 

How are results different?

Liposuction improvements are noticeable immediately following the procedure. Results will continue to improve as swelling and fluid retention decreases during the first three months after surgery and it may take several months for swelling to resolve fully.

Liposuction results are long-lasting, as long as patients maintain a stable body weight and a healthy lifestyle after surgery.

Results of a tummy tuck are immediate, and improvements continue over several weeks following the procedure, as swelling decreases. 

Tummy tuck results are long-lasting, but patients are encouraged to follow a healthy diet and regular exercise to maintain the results.

Liposuction vs. Tummy Tuck: Which is right for me?

Both liposuction and tummy tucks focus on improving the appearance of a patient’s midsection. Both procedures have their advantages, but they are not interchangeable for most candidates. Determining the procedure that is best for a particular patient comes down to their current weight, aesthetic goals, and timetable for recovery.

We encourage candidates to view our stomach liposuction before and after photos, and tummy tuck before and after photos to better understand what can be achieved with each of the procedures.

For more information about liposuction and tummy tuck surgery in Union Square, New York please contact Dr. Mahmood or call 917.426.2936.

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