What’s the Difference between Liposuction and a Tummy Tuck?

Body contouring plastic surgery has become very popular, and among the many different procedures that can help shape and sculpt the body, few have the universal appeal of liposuction and tummy tucks.  In fact, these two procedures alone accounted for more than 20% of all the cosmetic plastic surgery that was performed in 2016, according to statistics compiled by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.  However, even though liposuction and tummy tucks can both help patients achieve a slimmer and more athletic-looking torso; the two are actually very different.  Not only do they work in very different ways, but they are also designed to address very different concerns.  Understanding the important distinctions between these two popular body contouring plastic surgery procedures is the best way to determine which approach might be right for you.


Liposuction (small)Liposuction to Help Reduce Excess Fat

Many people think of liposuction as an easy way to lose weight, but this is simply not true.  Removing more than a few ounces of fat during a single procedure can be very dangerous, so liposuction is best used as a way to remove small deposits of hard to reach fat from areas that normally cannot be reached through exercise.  This is why liposuction should never be used as a substitute for a healthy diet and regular exercise routine, and why we usually recommend that patients be at or near their goal weight before undergoing the procedure.  However, liposuction does have the benefit of being extremely versatile.  Not only can it remove isolated fat deposits from virtually anywhere in the body, even the face or neck, the fat that has been removed can also be purified and re-injected, using advanced fat transfer techniques, into other areas of the body to increase volume and projection.

Tummy Tuck to Tighten Muscle and skin

Once fat has been removed, either through liposuction or through more conventional diet and exercise, it is possible that stretched, sagging skin and muscle can be left behind.  This can be particularly true in patients who have struggled with weight loss for many years, or for women who have undergone a pregnancy.  Specifically, when the abdominal muscles have become stretched and weakened, no amount of exercise will return them to their original condition, and so the midsection comes to develop a distinctive “pooch”.  A tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, works by surgically tightening the abdominal muscles while reduce the excess, sagging skin from the area between the rib cage and the pelvis.  For those patients who are in relatively good physical condition but who have only minor “pooching” of the lower belly without a great deal of excess skin, a partial abdominoplasty, or mini-tummy tuck, can achieve similar effects with a smaller incision and a shorter post-surgical recovery time.

Many patients also choose to undergo a tummy tuck or mini-tummy tuck in conjunction with liposuction during a combination procedure.  This allows them to obtain the most dramatic results while minimizing the necessary recovery time.  Because every patient is different, with their own health considerations and healing factors, it is important that you discuss your body contouring options with one of our board certified plastic surgeons during a personal consultation.  This way you can work together to customize an approach that will be both safe and effective.  If you are interested in learning more about any of the various body contouring procedures we offer, please contact Atlanta Plastic Surgery, P.C. at one of our Atlanta, Alpharetta, or Cumming offices to schedule a consultation.  Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for the latest plastic surgery news.