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Liposuction And Tummy Tuck: What is the Difference?

By Dr. Charles J. Galanis

Liposuction and tummy tuck

If you dislike the way that your midsection looks you are certainly not alone. When it comes to areas of the body that we dislike, our lower abdomen regularly ranks as one of the most commonly cited.  We don’t like or feel comfortable in our underwear and bathing suits.

There can be a range of reasons for this, from weight gain that leads to excess belly fat accumulating in the stomach and abdominal area to the after-effects of pregnancy, such as separated or weakened abdominal muscles.

Achieving the desired body contour after significant weight loss often requires body contouring surgery. Lifts become essential when loose skin or areas where liposuction surgery may not suffice are present.

Combining multiple body contouring procedures is common in many cases. Your surgeon will conduct a thorough analysis of your body structure and lifestyle, tailoring their recommendations to a specific surgical technique.

Whatever is causing you to feel down about the shape and firmness of your abdomen, there is liposuction surgery and tummy tucks that can help you achieve the smoother, flat stomach that you desire.

Many patients confuse liposuction and a tummy tuck since both can dramatically alter the shape of your midsection. However, the procedures for both are very different, as can be the body contouring results that they provide.

To help you to determine which is the right body contouring procedure for you, or if these body contouring procedures should be combined. Here is a guide to the differences between a tummy tuck and liposuction.


Liposuction is a minimally-invasive cosmetic surgery procedure that is designed primarily to remove localized excess fatty tissue from specific parts of the body. While in this case we are talking about the abdomen, liposuction can also successfully be used on the thighs, buttocks, upper arms and other areas of your body.

Liposuction procedure

The procedure itself involves our surgeon injecting salt water into your abdominal area, which will break up the fatty deposits so that they can be removed. Then the liposuction cannula, which is a long, thin metal tube, will be inserted under the loose skin and into the fatty area.

This is attached to another tube and a vacuum, which will suck out the excess fat cells and deposit them into a container. To help break up the excess fat deposits further, our surgeon may move the cannula forwards and backwards.

In most instances, multiple entry points to your abdomen will need to be used. These incisions are very small and will heal without stitches. Any lipo scarring is minimal and will fade over time.

Liposuction Recovery

In many cases, liposuction can be performed using just a local anesthetic. However, you may prefer to be put to sleep for your procedure – this can be discussed with our surgeon.

The recovery period from liposuction is usually fairly simple and short. You will need to wear a compression garment over the affected area for up to eight weeks which will help reduce swelling.

Post-operative pain relief will also be provided. You should be able to return to work within a week of your surgical procedure.

Liposuction is recommended for…

Liposuction is generally a good option for those patients who have relatively good skin quality and muscle tone, and simply want to remove excess fat and enjoy a more streamlined silhouette.

It is important to understand that liposuction will not eliminate excess skin nor improve the appearance of stretch marks or address issues to do with loose abdominal muscles. For these types of cosmetic problems, you would be best off considering tummy tuck surgery.


A tummy tuck is a body contouring procedure that is designed specifically to tighten up the entire abdominal area, removing excess skin and eliminating the puckering and stretchmarks that make many patients feel self-conscious.

Tummy tuck procedure

Tummy tucks are available as full and partial procedure. In a full tummy tuck the entire abdomen is addressed while in a partial tuck, our surgeon will focus on improving only the area that sits below your belly button.

After you have been given a general anesthetic which will put you to sleep, our surgeon will create an incision that runs the width of the lower part of the abdomen, and another to free your belly button from surrounding tissue.

The skin will then be separated from the abdominal wall so that it can be pulled tightly before being secured in place using sutures and excess skin cut away.

In some cases, the separated abdominal muscles underneath the skin may also need to be realigned before the remaining excess skin can be secured. The button can then be replaced, and in some cases will be situated higher on your new, smoother, flatter stomach.

Tummy tuck recovery

Since a tummy tuck is a major operation, the recovery period is much more significant than that of liposuction. You can expect to need to take up to six weeks off of work and will be unable to participate in strenuous activities for three months or more.

You will be given a compression garment to wear over your wound which you should wear for as long as directed.

Wound care is particularly important to prevent a post-operative infection from setting in and you will be given specific instructions for caring for your wounds effectively. Strong painkillers may be necessary for the first few days or so, after which point, overt the counter medications should be sufficient.

Tummy tuck is recommended for…

A tummy tuck is recommended for patients who have excess loose skin or stretched muscle tissue, which liposuction will not be able to treat. After recovering from your tummy tuck procedure, you will find that you abdominal muscles are better aligned and you have a smooth, flat and relatively scar-free abdominal area.

Difference between liposuction and tummy tuck

Questions and Answers

Can you get lipo and tummy tuck at the same time?

Combining these two procedures offers patients the advantages of both, minimizing pain and recovery time compared to separate surgeries.

Which is better a tummy tuck or liposuction?

A tummy tuck is better in tightening loose abdominal skin, especially addressing stretch marks between the belly button and pubic area. Unlike liposuction, it doesn’t correct loose abdominal muscles, making it a typically more dramatic transformation.

How many pounds can you lose with lipo and tummy tuck?

Liposuction can safely remove up to 11 pounds of abdominal fat. When combined with the potential 2 to 15 pounds lost from excess skin through abdominoplasty, you may achieve a total weight loss of up to 28 pounds.

Which lasts longer a tummy tuck or liposuction?

While liposuction eliminates excess fat, weight gain can lead to its return. Abdominoplasty results are typically permanent with weight maintenance and a continued healthy lifestyle.

What questions should I ask before my tummy tuck?

  1. What will be required of me to achieve the best tummy tuck results?
  2. Can you provide details on where and how the tummy tuck procedure will be performed?
  3. What specific surgical technique do you recommend for my case?
  4. Am I a candidate to do both a tummy tuck and liposuction at the same time?
  5. How long is the recovery period after my tummy tuck?

Body contouring is an amazing way to address excess skin, sagging skin, stubborn fat, and exercise resistant fat.  Sometimes we are at our ideal body weight after adhering to a great diet and exercise routine but just need a little help to finish the process.

Contact Our Office Today

If you would like to find out more details on tummy tuck and liposuction, or would like to make an appointment with board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Charles Galanis for an initial consultation for a different body contouring procedure, contact us at Galanis Plastic Surgery in Beverly Hills and our knowledgeable team would be happy to assist you. Please contact our offices today.



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