Tummy Tuck vs. Liposuction

Tummy tuck is commonly thought of when a flatter tummy is desired. Abdominal fat can be very resistant to diet and exercise. Prior to the development of liposuction, the only real surgical alternative in the diet and exercise – resistant case was the tummy tuck. The tummy tuck procedure is still performed, but liposuction is a better alternative for most patients. The tummy tuck involves the removal of a large amount of skin from the lower abdomen. Therefore, if a very large, or extreme amount of excess skin is present, a tummy tuck is appropriate. This may be the case after an extensive amount of weight has been lost and large, drooping, or loose skin folds are present.

before liposuction (liposuction performed using only local anesthetic) after liposuction (liposuction performed using only local anesthetic)
before liposuction and after liposuction (liposuction performed using only local anesthetic)

However, because of skin shrinkage which occurs following liposuction, there is rarely a need to remove the excess skin of the abdomen. For most patients, the problem of excess fat in the lower abdomen is more of an issue than excess skin. Of course, if there is excess fat, there is bound to be some excess skin present as well. However, the amount of skin shrinkage after liposuction of the lower abdomen is usually substantial. A good example of this is how the skin returns after pregnancy.

For most patients, liposuction alone is sufficient to correct the problem. There is also growing evidence that tumescent liposuction of the area is safer than a tummy tuck, since it is a much less traumatic procedure than a tummy tuck. The tummy tuck operation is a pretty substantial one. The incision usually extends from one hip to the other, and thus can often be almost 2 feet long. In addition, the umbilicus, or belly button, is often moved downward a considerable amount. In contrast, liposuction surgery involves only a few very tiny incisions which become hardly noticable, and no displacement of the belly button. Recovery after liposuction, particularly tumescent liposuction, is easier than aftera tummy tuck as well.

In addition, tumescent liposuction technique allows liposuction to be performed using only local anesthetic; no general anesthesia or sedation is required. This eliminates the risks associated with general anesthesia, and allows for a much more rapid recovery. Patients are up and walking immediately after the procedure, and usually back at work in 3 days or less.