The difference between a tummy tuck and liposuction can be explained simply: a tummy tuck is better for people with a lot of loose, baggy abdominal skin, while liposuction is best for those who want to get rid of fat deposits, including spot fat removal.
Both procedures help dramatically improve the appearance of the belly area, but the procedure itself and outcomes, including recovery time, can be vastly different.
The tummy tuck – for when baggy skin is the problem
A tummy tuck removes excess skin and can be used to tighten lax abdominal muscles. An incision is made across the lower abdomen to allow access to the abdominal cavity, which ultimately leaves a thin scar. The remaining skin is draped over the abdomen, leaving it flatter and tighter.
The tummy tuck involves some visible scarring, a general anaesthetic, and longer recovery times compared with liposuction.
Liposuction – when fat is the problem
To remove fat (and as a result cause some natural tightening and retraction of skin), liposuction might be an excellent option. Liposuction reshapes the body in a safer, less invasive, and lasting way.
Liposuction can be done on multiple body areas during the same treatment, like the flanks (‘love handles’), chin and jaw (jowls), thighs, ankles, calves, buttocks and arms. Liposuction can even be done on knees and elbows.
Liposuction involves minimal scarring (just two or so small incision scars that are often minimally visible), general or local anaesthetic depending on the area, and shorter recovery times compared to a tummy tuck. If you have good skin and muscle tone, liposuction can dramatically improve your contours.
Which procedure should I choose?
You need to be clear about what you’re trying to resolve before you and your cosmetic doctor can decide which procedure you would most benefit from – a tummy tuck, liposuction, or a combination of both.
If you can’t undergo surgery for some reason or have other risk factors that make a tummy tuck or liposuction unavailable to you, you may benefit from some other less invasive techniques of fat removal and skin tightening – there are many options for reshaping.