Tummy Tuck vs. Lipo: 6 Differences To Know

Woman with a flat stomach (model) stands confidently in front of a white background.

Patients searching for the right body contouring procedure may find themselves caught up in the “tummy tuck vs. lipo” debate. Which surgical procedure will best help you achieve your goals? I break down the 6 key differences you need to know below.

#1 – Who Is a Good Candidate?

Tummy Tuck: Most patients have experienced significant weight loss following pregnancy, surgery, or other lifestyle changes and struggle with sagging, stretched skin that has not retracted to fit their slimmer physique.

Patients may also have separated abdominal muscles (a condition called diastasis recti, which I cover in more depth in this related blog post). When this happens, a protruding pouch may form at the lower belly that can only be corrected by suturing the “six-pack” muscles back together.

Liposuction: Patients with localized pockets of fat that resist healthy lifestyle habits like diet and exercise are often good candidates for liposuction.

#2 – What Does It Do?

Tummy Tuck: Abdominoplasty surgery repairs the abdominal muscles (if needed) and trims and tightens the excess skin before creating a new opening for the belly button.

Liposuction: This procedure acts as a “spot treatment” to break up stubborn fat deposits and remove them via suction.

#3 – When Should I Schedule It?

Tummy Tuck: Patients should wait until they are within 10 to 15 pounds of their target weight (and able to maintain their weight consistently) before booking their tummy tuck surgery.

Because pregnancy can undo the cosmetic and functional improvements created during a tummy tuck, I encourage my female patients to wait until they are done growing their families to pursue their procedure.

Liposuction: Liposuction is best booked after a patient’s lifestyle interventions have plateaued. Like tummy tuck surgery, liposuction is not a weight loss procedure, and patients often achieve the best outcomes when they are near their goal weight and need an extra “boost” to get their desired results.

#4  – Where Does It Make Improvements?

Tummy Tuck: Tummy tuck surgery targets the abdominal area—both the skin and underlying musculature.

Liposuction: Liposuction is versatile enough for full-body contouring, offering targeted fat reduction in the abdomen, back (bra line), flanks, waist, thighs, buttocks, upper arms, and under the chin.

#5  – Why Do People Choose It?

Tummy Tuck: Patients often choose to get an abdominoplasty to reclaim their pre-pregnancy bodies, repair their abdominal muscles, or better reflect their weight loss transformations.

Liposuction: Patients seeking liposuction may want to add the “finishing touches” to their weight loss efforts, fit better into their clothes, or feel more confident in their bodies after targeting their most stubborn trouble spots.

#6  – How Is It Done?

Tummy Tuck: During full abdominoplasty, your board-certified plastic surgeon will make a low hip-to-hip incision and one encircling the belly button (a “mini” tummy tuck will avoid the belly button and have a shorter horizontal incision).

The surgeon will tighten the skin, trimming the excess and pulling it taut to its new position. Liposuction may be used for fat removal and contouring of the abdomen before the bellybutton is pushed through its new opening and everything is sutured into place.

Liposuction: A thin tube called a cannula loosens the fat deposits, breaks them apart, and then suctions them out of the body.


Both procedures can give patients a sculpted midsection and a slimmer figure. Curious about lipo vs. tummy tuck results? Our before-and-after photo gallery reveals some of the beautiful, dramatic transformations that are possible with body contouring surgeries.

If you are interested in discussing whether a tummy tuck, liposuction, or both can help you achieve your ideal figure, please request a consultation or call us at  (916) 929-1833.

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