Both liposuction and abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) are common cosmetic procedures used to address concerns in the abdominal area. These two very different cosmetic procedures are performed on their own, and in some cases, together depending on your desired result.
Plastic surgeons use both these procedures to tighten, tone, and minimize the appearance of your midsection. However, neither surgery is considered a weight-loss procedure. Deciding between these two cosmetic surgeries requires an understanding of their differences.
In this article, we are examining the key differences between liposuction and abdominoplasty in terms of the actual procedure, risks, and recovery times associated with each one.
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What Makes Liposuction Different from a Tummy Tuck?
For anyone looking to slim, sculpt, or flatten their abdomen, both tummy tucks and liposuction offer a potential solution. It is important to make the distinction between these two surgeries and what each one targets specifically before deciding on which one might be right for you.
Liposuction is a targeted cosmetic procedure that can remove unwanted fat from the abdomen and other areas of the body. Plastic surgeons use liposuction to suck out stubborn fat that men and women have not been able to remove with diet and exercise alone.
Liposuction cannot eliminate excess or sagging skin from the body but can be helpful in slimming the body.
Liposuction is used to remove fat from the stomach and waist as well as:
An abdominoplasty not only removes fat from the abdominal area, but surgically removes excess skin and is also used to tighten and repair the muscles of the abdominal wall. Many people opt for a tummy tuck after an extreme weight loss or pregnancies.
Stretched skin and damaged abdominal muscles cannot be repaired by diet and exercise alone and a tummy tuck offers the surgical correction of these issues. A tummy tuck is only recommended if you have reached your goal weight, are finished having children, and your body index is below 30.
Procedure Differences for a Liposuction vs a Tummy Tuck
Whether you are considering having an abdominoplasty or liposuction, both procedures must be performed by a board-certified plastic surgeon. They are each considered to be surgical procedures and will require anesthesia and incisions in the body.
Liposuction uses a local anesthetic as well as mild intravenous anesthesia. In some cases, you will awake for your liposuction procedure and may even be asked to move your body or stand up.
Once you are numb, small incisions are made around the areas fat deposits that are going to be removed. Liposuctions uses a thin tube, called a cannula, to agitate and loosen the fat cells underneath your skin. Once the fat deposits are loosened, a medical vacuum is inserted to suction out the fat deposits.
Depending on your desired result, you may need to schedule multiple sessions of liposuction.
Abdominoplasty is a much more invasive procedure that liposuction. Once you are asleep and under general anesthesia, and incision is made across your lower abdomen, from hip to hip.
Your surgeon will expose your abdominal muscles and begin the procedure by sewing them together if they are separated or stretched as the result of a pregnancy. Next, your skin is pulled tightly to cover the repaired muscles allowing your surgeon to remove all the excess sagging or loose skin. Finally, the incisions will be closed with sutures and the surgery will be complete.
A tummy tuck is a single surgical procedure and is completed in one visit.
What is the Difference in Recovery from Liposuction vs a Tummy Tuck?
Recovering from a tummy tuck is a much larger ordeal than recovery for liposuction. What you can expect following each procedure is very different. Liposuction is much less invasive. However, you will need to allow yourself the proper recovery time and care regardless of which procedure you choose.
Recovery from Liposuction
Everyone’s recovery experience will vary with liposuction depending on the areas that were addressed and how many sessions will be required to achieve the desired results.
After liposuction, most patients can expect swelling at and around the areas of fat removal as well as minor bleeding and draining from the incision sites. You may also be asked to wear compression garments to help reduce edema and facilitate your healing.
Liposuction is a non-invasive cosmetic procedure with a relatively quick recovery. Generally, patients can return to everyday activities in as little as 48 hours. It is always best to wait until you are cleared by your doctor before engaging in strenuous activities or lifting heavy objects.
Recovery From a Tummy Tuck
Remember, a tummy tuck requires an incision be made across your entire midsection. When you wake up in recovery, you can expect your incision to be covered with a surgical dressing and for surgical drains to be in place.
You will need to change your dressing often, and your surgical drains may stay in place for up to 2 weeks.
Most abdominoplasties are considered outpatient surgeries, and you will return home the same day as your surgery. You will need someone with you to drive you home and to stay with you for the first few days of recovery.
You will be sent home with a combination of prescription pain relievers and antibiotics to manage your pain and prevent infection, as well as a compression garment or “belly binder.”
The initial recovery from a tummy tuck takes up to 6 weeks. It is important that you follow your doctor’s orders and attend all your post-op appointments. You will have many restrictions on your movement and activity while your muscles and incisions heal.
What are the Risks Associated with Liposuction vs a Tummy Tuck?
There are always possible complications and risks associated with any plastic surgery or cosmetic procedure. Each one will have its own complications that you should be aware of before selecting a procedure.
Risks of Liposuction
Complications with liposuction become more likely depending on the size of the area you are targeting and whether you are having liposuction performed in addition to another surgery.
Some of the risks associated with liposuction are:
- Contour Irregularities
- Fluid accumulation
- Internal organ puncture
- Fat embolism
Risks of A Tummy Tuck
Opting for an abdominoplasty carries a much higher chance of complications than liposuction due to the nature of the surgery.
Complications from a tummy tuck include:
- Wound Complications
- Changes in sensation
- Fluid accumulation
- Tissue necrosis
Is Liposuction Better Than a Tummy Tuck?
When it comes down to it, while both liposuction and tummy tuck procedures address the same area, each procedure delivers very different results. A candidate for abdominoplasty will not be able to achieve their goals with liposuction alone. Similarly, a patient without excess skin may be able to reach their desired appearance with liposuction alone, avoiding the need to have a major surgical operation.
One is not better than the other, only different. The only way to make a truly informed and educated decision is to schedule a consultation with an experienced, board-certified plastic surgeon.
How Can Beautifi Help?
Make sure you research a variety of cosmetic surgeons before booking your procedure. Afterwards, if you have any concerns or questions, ask your surgeon about them during your initial consultation. The Beautifi team is always here to help when choosing a surgeon or financially planning for a cosmetic procedure. Learn how our process works or fill out an application to start your procedure journey!