Liposuction vs. Tummy Tuck: Key Comparisons

If you’ve been battling unwanted (and stubborn) belly flab, you may have discovered that even the strictest diet and most intense workouts just won’t make the fat disappear. When it comes to reducing an unwanted belly bulge, you have two main body contouring options available: tummy tucks or liposuction. There are some major differences between the two types of procedures, which make some patients more suited to one treatment than the other. Dr. Kaveh Alizadeh—an experienced and board-certified plastic surgeon for Long Island, Manhattan, and Westchester—counsels patients in choosing one procedure, the other, or both as necessary.

Everyone typically has at least “problem area” on their body. Having some extra belly fat can be the result of a number of factors. It’s common after a pregnancy and weight gain. A flabby look due to excess skin can remain even after significant weight loss. Smoking, excess alcohol consumption, and stress can contribute to the problem. Fat pockets and skin laxity may also be the result of genetics and the realities of aging.

That said, there are different surgical approaches to take whether the main cosmetic problem in the abdomen is excess fat, loose skin, or both.


Liposuction can be performed on most areas of the body, from the upper arms, neck, chest, and back to the buttocks, calves, and ankles, and everything in between. It separates and suctions away fat deposits from isolated areas under the skin, with access gained through a small incision. Plastic surgeons use a thin, flexible tube called a cannula to remove the liquefied fat.

When we lose weight through diet and exercise, our fat cells simply shrink in size. Smaller cells lead to a reduction in volume, which leads to a slimmer look. Since not all cells shrink when or where we want them to, however, lifestyle changes are frequently not sufficient to contour specific areas on the body that can use a slim-down. Liposuction takes the fat-reduction idea a step further by physically removing fat cells from trouble spots. Ideally, the skin will tighten and conform to the new, defined body shape. That is not always the case, however.

Tummy Tuck

During tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) surgery, the plastic surgeon removes excess skin and fat from the belly area. The procedure also generally includes repairing stomach muscles that may have been separated, as well as repositioning and tightening skin so that it sits taut over the flatter belly. The goal is to create a firmer, more toned appearance.

Similarities Between Liposuction and Tummy Tucks

Liposuction and tummy tucks are both surgical ways to reshape the body and involve physical removal of fat. Neither is a weight loss solution, nor a substitute for eating right and exercising. To maximize and prolong the results of either procedure, it’s important to maintain a stable weight in the months and years that follow.

Differences Between Liposuction and Tummy Tucks

Liposuction is geared strictly toward removing fat. The general consensus is that those who want to target more than just the belly area especially benefit from this procedure, since it can provide more extensive body contouring around the flanks, love handles, hips, thighs, and other areas surrounding the abdomen.

If you have large sections of stretched, loose skin on the stomach, a tummy tuck is ideal. Tummy tucks typically require a longer recovery time than liposuction because they are more involved and include a range of techniques. Women are advised to wait until after they’re finished having children to get a tummy tuck, as pregnancy can reverse some of the lifting and tightening effects of the surgery.

Combined Procedures

While liposuction and tummy tucks are frequently chosen as stand-alone procedures, some patients choose to optimize the outcome from a tummy tuck by adding liposuction into the mix. This allows for the best of both worlds in just one surgery. The results can be more dramatic than those of either treatment used by itself.

Considering body contouring? Dr. Kaveh Alizadeh at Alizadeh Cosmoplastic Surgery can answer questions about the available options. To schedule a consultation, call 212.348.0100 (Manhattan/Westchester) / 516.439.5010 (Long Island) or fill out a contact form for more details.

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Categories: Beauty Lifestyle