Both a liposuction and a tummy tuck can help you achieve the desired appearance of a flatter stomach, however each procedure may not be right for the same people. Based on your body, desired results, and your surgical needs, a board certified plastic surgeon such as Dr. Kulick can help you to determine which of these procedures is best for you. Here are some general differences between having abdominal liposuction vs a tummy tuck so that you will be more informed when scheduling your consultation.


Of the two procedures, liposuction is by far the less invasive. Also known as body contouring, it can be done while the patient is awake using local anesthetics, thus avoiding the added risks that general anesthesia always brings. Another type of liposuction, called ultrasonic liposuction, uses ultrasound to melt or liquefy abdominal fat before removing it from the body.

Regardless of which procedure a patient gets, recovery will involve wearing a compression garment and bandages for at least two weeks and perhaps longer depending on the patient’s unique situation. The post-surgical symptoms, including swelling, numbness, tingling and discomfort, can usually be managed very well with medication, and people can typically return to work within a matter of days.

Tummy Tuck

An abdominoplasty, or tummy tuck, is more involved. As with liposuction, it is used to minimize the effects of age, pregnancy, heredity, significant weight loss or gain, or prior surgery on the stomach. In this procedure, excess fat and skin are removed and the muscles in the abdominal wall are tightened.

The complete tummy tuck operation involves the plastic surgeon making an incision from hip bone to hip bone, keeping the belly button in the same location during the process and contouring the muscle and tissue as needed. Partial tummy tucks are often sufficient if the patient only wishes to remove fat below the belly button. A partial tummy tuck is less invasive and does take as long to perform. The incision is much smaller, which is a plus.

abdominal liposuction vs a tummy tuck

Recovery will take several weeks or even months, and the patient will have more discomfort than experienced after a liposuction procedure. In addition, this surgery always leaves a scar. Although it will fade somewhat over time, it may never disappear completely. Moreover, the patient will need to devote time away from work for recovery. If you are contemplating this surgery, the entire recovery process and time line will be discussed thoroughly before going ahead with the operation.

Which is Best?

When contemplating an abdominal liposuction vs a tummy tuck, the two procedures are often viewed as an “either/or” proposition. However, many patients and doctors opt to first do the less invasive liposuction procedure. Often, it alone can give patients the results they desire. In the event that they are not satisfied and perhaps still have sagging skin or excess fat after liposuction, a mini-tummy tuck can then be implemented.

When weighing the benefits of having abdominal liposuction vs a tummy tuck remember both can make a dramatic difference in the way you look. Taking the time to do research and have your questions answered is a vital part of the process. With a clear understanding of the strategy that best suits your unique situation and needs, you can move forward with confidence in yourself and your doctor.

An expert plastic surgeon such as Dr. Kulick will be available throughout each step of your abdominal reconstruction journey. This includes the initial consultation, your final visit, as well as everything in between.

Dr Michael KulickDr. Michael Kulick, MD is a leading board certified plastic surgeon in San Francisco, California. During an initial consultation, he’ll examine your individual anatomy, discuss all your options, and create a unique treatment plan along with any other necessary procedures. If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of plastic surgery and are looking for a qualified cosmetic surgeon, use this online form to request a consultation with Dr. Kulick or call 415-956-2550.