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Tummy Tuck vs. Liposuction: Which One is For You?

Tummy Tuck and Liposuction

Lots of people want a flat, youthful looking stomach. However, not a lot of people understand what it takes to get that taut stomach. That might explain why crunches remain so popular.  People do not realize that you can do crunches or sit-ups until you’re blue in the face, but there may never be a real change in the appearance of the tummy with these exercises.

A large, saggy abdominal area is typically caused by two things, either on their own or in combination. You might have a bit of extra fat around your middle, giving you a potbelly. You might have loose, sagging skin around the waist, giving you a tummy “pooch”.  Many people will notice a bit of both.

How you can surgically treat a flabby or saggy abdominal area depends on the root cause. Typically, patients who are concerned about their tummy or who want a flatter stomach have two options: liposuction or a tummy tuck. A Board Certified plastic surgeon who has years of experience performing both procedures, such as Houston’s Dr. Paul Vitenas, can help you determine which one is best for you.


Liposuction is a surgical procedure that removes excess, unwanted fat from your body. Although it is frequently performed in the abdominal area, it can benefit pretty much anyplace on the body.  For example, the surgery can remove fat from the thighs, upper arms, or backside.

Sometimes known as liposculpture, the technique is meant to improve the contour and shape of the body. To improve the safety and overall results of the liposuction procedure, a surgeon will typically inject the target area with a solution of epinephrine, saline, and lidocaine first. The solution will firm up the fat and numb the area; it minimizes pain and bleeding, and essentially makes it easier to remove the unwanted fat.

Tummy Tuck:

While liposuction focuses on removing unwanted fat from the body, a tummy tuck focuses on excising extra skin. Several factors can lead to sagging, droopy abdominal skin. The skin can be stretched out and lose its elasticity during pregnancy. A patient can lose a significant amount of weight, but not have the skin bounce back to match the size of the newly slimmed down body. In some cases, the saggy excess skin is a result of aging and a loss of collagen in the skin.

A tummy tuck doesn’t just trim away extra skin, creating a smoother and flatter abdominal area. It can also be performed to strategically conceal the scars left behind after a C-section. The surgery does remove some extra fat and can also help tighten the muscles of the abdomen.

Choosing Between a Tummy Tuck and Liposuction:

Aside from the question of whether you have extra fat or extra skin in the abdominal area, there are a few other considerations to keep in mind when deciding between liposuction and a tummy tuck. One is the recovery period. Although both are surgical procedures, the recovery period after a tummy tuck tends to be longer than the recovery period following liposuction. That’s due in part to the more extensive nature of the tummy tuck procedure. While you might be able to get back to work and other activities about a week after liposuction, you might need at least two weeks before you can resume many activities after a tummy tuck.

Another thing to consider is scarring after the surgery. Liposuction typically involves making small incisions, usually strategically positioned in creases, so that the resulting scars aren’t that visible. The incision for a tummy tuck is typically made just above the pubis, between the hips bones. While the scar can be covered up by clothing and does fade over time, it’s much larger than the scars associated with liposuction.

Are a Tummy Tuck and Liposuction Better Together?

Although some patients might be better candidates for liposuction and some might be better candidates for a tummy tuck, there is a third group. That group consists of patients who are candidates for both procedures, performed together. If you’re dealing with extra fat in your tummy area, as well as loose skin, your surgeon might recommend having a combined tummy tuck and liposuction.

If you’re a good candidate, there are several advantages of combining the procedures. A big advantage is improved results. You’ll be closer to getting the flat stomach you desire if you remove both extra fat and skin. Another advantage is reduced cost and recovery, compared to performing the procedures separately, at different times.

Dr. Paul Vitenas is a Board Certified facial plastic surgeon; he has been named one of the nation’s Top Doctors every year since 2007.  Dr. Vitenas has performed hundreds of tummy tucks, liposuctions, and combination body sculpting procedures. To discuss each procedure in depth, and see which one will benefit you, call (281) 484-0088 to schedule an in-person consultation with Dr. Vitenas today.