Comparing Body Contouring Procedures: Tummy Tuck Vs. Liposuction

By: Dr. Sean Kelishadi, M.D. FACS


For one reason or another, there comes a point in time where many men and women decide to undergo plastic surgery. Whether pregnancy and breastfeeding have caused unwanted physical changes or extreme weight loss has left you with excess skin, cosmetic surgery likely has a solution to help you achieve the body of your dreams. Without a doubt, the midsection is one of the most common areas of concern for men and women across all age groups and walks of life. Fortunately, there are multiple treatment options for sculpting a smooth, tight, toned abdomen. However, choosing the most appropriate procedure can often be confusing.

The knowledgeable team at SSK Plastic Surgery, led by board-certified Newport Beach, CA plastic surgeon Dr. Sean Kelishadi, is committed to providing highly personalized care to each patient and can help you better understand the differences between two of the most popular body contouring procedures, tummy tuck and liposuction, as well as which one may be the best choice for you.

Should I get a tummy tuck or liposuction?

Many patients know what their end goal is: a smooth, sleek, gorgeous abdomen. However, they aren’t quite sure whether liposuction or tummy tuck – or another procedure – can help them achieve their specific goal. The answer is not always black and white, and it is important to seek the advice of an experienced and skilled plastic surgeon to determine your best course of action. In the meantime, it is helpful to at least have a basic understanding of your options, including how they work, what they are used for, the expected results and recovery time, and more. To prepare yourself to decide between a tummy tuck and liposuction, here are some of the most commonly asked questions and answers about each procedure:

What is a tummy tuck, and what is liposuction?

The best way to differentiate between a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) and liposuction is to define its purpose. A tummy tuck is primarily a skin removal procedure that aims to get rid of loose, sagging skin from the upper abdomen, lower abdomen, or both. This is a common side effect of pregnancy or significant weight loss, but many patients begin to notice sagging skin associated with aging alone. Additional cosmetic and functional improvements can also be made with abdominoplasty, including:

  • Excess skin removal
  • Create a tighter, firmer, smoother abdomen
  • Hernia correction
  • Correct diastasis recti
  • Tighten and reinforce abdominal muscles
  • Reduce the appearance of an abdominal “pooch”

Liposuction, on the other hand, aims to remove small to medium deposits of fat cells across various parts of the body. Over time, many men and women develop these stubborn pockets of fat that don’t respond to traditional diet and exercise in an expected way. This can, understandably, be frustrating, and prevent a person from reaching his or her ideal physique. When this occurs, liposuction can be a fantastic solution. Common areas where patients receive liposuction fat removal include:

  • Abdomen
  • Hips
  • Flanks
  • Buttocks
  • Thighs
  • Back/bra line
  • Neck/under chin

It is important to note that neither tummy tuck nor liposuction is meant to be used as weight loss tools. Before considering either procedure, patients should be at or nearly at their healthy goal weight but have concerns about either loose, hanging skin or stubborn fat bulges – or both.

How long is recovery after a tummy tuck vs. liposuction?

Liposuction and tummy tuck are both procedures requiring anesthesia, incisions, and healing time, but recovery details do vary between the two. Recovery after tummy tuck typically takes several weeks, during which time patients should expect to have some level of discomfort, swelling, bruising, and limited mobility. A dramatic improvement should be visible after a tummy tuck, but the final results can take several months to develop as the residual swelling resolves, and the tissues continue to settle. During your initial consultation in Newport Beach, CA, Dr. Kelishadi can help you better understand what to expect after tummy tuck to ensure you prepare accordingly for your postoperative period.

In general, liposuction recovery is less extensive than tummy tuck recovery. While patients will need to wear compression garments for several weeks and allow their bodies time to rest and recover, most are able to return to work and light daily activities after 1 – 2 weeks. In many cases, liposuction is performed as part of a larger procedure, such as a mommy makeover, which requires a much lengthier recovery period than when liposuction is performed on its own.

How long does liposuction last?

When fat cells are removed with liposuction, the results are long-lasting! When patients maintain a healthy, stable weight with regular diet and exercise, the results of liposuction can be long term. However, future weight fluctuations, including pregnancy, can cause the remaining fat cells to grow and can even generate new cells. Unfortunately, plastic surgery can’t stop the aging process completely, and certain medications or medical conditions may impact your results in the future. In any case, the best way to maintain your liposuction results for as long as possible is to avoid weight gain.

A tummy tuck can also provide long-lasting results. In fact, some patients maintain their tummy tuck results indefinitely. Similar to liposuction, future weight gain and/or pregnancy after a tummy tuck can significantly compromise the original results and lead to the need for a repeat procedure. For this reason, women considering tummy tuck are strongly advised to wait until they are done having children before undergoing surgery.

Can I get tummy tuck and liposuction at the same time?

Most definitely! Liposuction is often paired with a tummy tuck to create an even slimmer, smoother abdominal contour, and truly fine-tune a patient’s results. Many women even combine tummy tuck, liposuction, breast augmentation, and other body contouring treatments into a mommy makeover for a more dramatic full-body transformation.

Trim your body and boost your confidence with a tummy tuck or liposuction in Newport Beach, CA

There’s no doubt that cosmetic surgery can be life-changing. Not only do patients love their new look, but most men and women feel more confident than ever after cosmetic surgery!

Stop daydreaming about the body you’ve always wanted; call the friendly team at SSK Plastic Surgery in Newport Beach, CA today to schedule your office visit or convenient online consultation with renowned board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Sean Kelishadi, and make the body of your dreams a reality once and for all!

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.