tummy tuck patient

BlogDifferences Between Tummy Tuck and Liposuction

Many of our patients come to South Shore Plastic Surgery seeking a flatter, smoother and more sculpted abdomen. The truth is that, no matter how dedicated you are to diet and exercise, a healthy lifestyle alone may not be enough to give you the body you want. Even the fittest physiques sometimes struggle with pockets of fat, and no one is exempt from the changes that come with aging, weight fluctuations or pregnancy.

Men and women who want to improve the appearance of their midsection often ask Dr. Vasisht about the distinctions between a tummy tuck (also called abdominoplasty) and liposuction. After all, both are cosmetic body contouring procedures performed by plastic surgeons that are intended to flatten the stomach when diet and exercise fall short. There are obvious similarities between the two techniques — so what are the differences? And which one is right for you? Below are some factors to consider.

Tummy Tuck Procedure vs. Liposuction Procedure

A tummy tuck is a surgical procedure that involves the removal of excess skin and fat as well as the tightening of loose or separated abdominal muscles. Pregnancy or significant weight changes can stretch the skin over the stomach. Although diet and exercise can help reduce fat and tone the abdomen, they have no effect on excess skin. Abdominoplasty can address all three of these issues in a single procedure.

Liposuction is a less invasive surgical procedure that removes unsightly fatty deposits that are resistant to diet and exercise. During liposuction, a plastic surgeon moves a thin tube called a cannula under the skin while a medical vacuum suctions out dislodged fat cells. Liposuction can eliminate small bulges and improve abdominal contour, but it does not tighten the underlying muscles or remove excess skin.

Tummy Tuck Risks vs. Liposuction Risks

No surgical procedure is without risk. For abdominoplasty, risks include bruising, swelling, numbness, infection, bleeding, blood clots, fluid accumulation, poor wound healing, unfavorable scarring, persistent pain and tissue necrosis. For liposuction, risks include bruising, swelling, changes in skin sensation, fluid accumulation, contour irregularities, infection, damage to deeper structures (such as blood vessels or nerves) and, in rare cases, fat embolism.

In general, serious complications are rare, and risks can be minimized when the procedure is performed by a board-certified surgeon. Thorough preoperative assessment and careful adherence to postoperative instructions are key to a safe and successful procedure.

Tummy Tuck Recovery vs. Liposuction Recovery

Because abdominoplasty is a more invasive procedure, it requires a longer recovery. Tummy tuck patients can expect swelling, discomfort, limited movement and use of a compression garment after their procedure. One week to 10 days of downtime away from work is recommended. Most gentle activities can be resumed within two weeks, followed by exercise in four to six weeks. It may take up to a year for the body to fully adapt to its new contour.

Abdominal liposuction involves a comparatively shorter and more comfortable recovery. After the procedure, a liposuction patient can expect some swelling, bruising and pain. Wearing a compression garment helps to minimize swelling and helps the body adjust to its new shape. Many patients resume light activities within a few days and return to work within a week. The exact length of recovery time depends on the type of liposuction performed and the volume of fat removed.

Tummy Tuck Scarring vs. Liposuction Scarring

Any procedure that requires an incision may leave a scar. In tummy tuck surgery, a horizontal incision is made in the lower abdomen from hip to hip. The length of this incision is dictated by the amount of excess tissue that must be removed. A second incision may be made around the belly button. Although the resulting scars are permanent, they should fade substantially over time and they are placed so that they are concealed by the natural anatomical structures of the body and most underwear and swimwear.

In liposuction, small incisions are made around the treatment area so the cannula can be inserted under the skin. These incisions are much shorter and less conspicuous than abdominoplasty incisions, and so are the resulting scars.

Tummy Tuck Candidates vs. Liposuction Candidates

Tummy tuck and liposuction have the same general goal — to improve the appearance of the abdomen — and appeal to people seeking similar cosmetic outcomes. However, they achieve this goal in different ways, and are therefore suited to different candidates. Liposuction may be the right choice if you have good skin and muscle tone, but are struggling to eliminate localized deposits of fat around your abdomen. If you have unwanted fat as well as significant excess skin or muscle laxity in your abdomen, a tummy tuck may be a better fit.

Tummy Tuck Cost vs. Liposuction Cost

The costs for both abdominoplasty and liposuction can vary significantly. Factors such as the surgeon’s location and experience, the anesthesia and facility fees, and the scope of the procedure all influence the final cost. Tummy tuck surgery typically requires a greater financial investment than liposuction, but it is not possible to know the cost of your individual procedure until you have consulted with your surgeon. Health insurance plans do not generally cover abdominoplasty or liposuction because they are cosmetic procedures.

Combining Tummy Tuck and Liposuction

In some cases, the optimal result is achieved by combining tummy tuck surgery and liposuction. Performing these procedures simultaneously or in a staged approach can yield the most dramatic improvements to the shape and tone of the abdomen. The ideal treatment comes down to your unique anatomy and cosmetic goals, and your surgeon’s experience and expertise. Dr. Vasisht can help you decide which option is best for you after discussing your concerns, answering your questions and conducting a physical examination during your initial consultation.

The Bottom Line: Which One is Right for You?

How can I get a slimmer, better-proportioned figure? What can I do about stubborn fat? Is liposuction a less invasive tummy tuck alternative? How can I get my body back after weight loss or pregnancy? Which body contouring procedure is right for me? For the answers to these questions and others, call South Shore Plastic Surgery today at 856-784-2639 to schedule your complimentary consultation with New Jersey plastic surgeon Dr. Bhupesh Vasisht. While both abdominoplasty and liposuction can achieve excellent results, Dr. V will help you decide which one is the perfect fit for your figure.