Confused about the differences between a tummy tuck and liposuction? Patients from all over the Toronto area — Oakville, Brampton, Mississauga, and other communities — seem to have the same question: “Which one do I need?” The answer in many cases: both. That’s because the goals of the 2 procedures can be complementary: Liposuction can sculpt the final touches after a tummy tuck.
Perhaps the most obvious difference is that liposuction is more versatile. It can treat multiple areas of the body, while a tummy tuck targets the abdomen. Beyond that, here’s a closer look at the differences and similarities of the 2 procedures.
- Liposuction: Men and women who benefit from liposuction are typically in good overall shape and want to tone and contour areas that don’t respond to diet and exercise alone. A good liposuction candidate is at or close to ideal weight.
- Tummy Tuck: Excess abdominal skin and fat is the telltale sign of good tummy tuck candidates. The procedure is often a good choice for men and women who have lost significant weight; it is most commonly performed on women who have had children.
- Liposuction: Head-to-toe isn’t quite accurate, but it’s close. Liposuction removes excess fat from areas large (e.g., abdomen, buttocks, lower back) and small (e.g., knees, fat just below the chin). Hips, thighs, and upper arms are also common liposuction treatment areas.
- Tummy Tuck: As its name implies, a tummy tuck specifically targets the abdominal area. A full tummy tuck involves removing excess skin above the belly button, which is repositioned, and repairing abdominal muscles stretched by pregnancy (if necessary).
- Liposuction: A liposuction procedure may take 1 to 3 hours, depending on the size of the target area(s). It’s performed using a local anesthetic, unless the surgeon will be addressing large treatment areas.
- Tummy Tuck: A tummy tuck is fairly major surgery and is performed using general anesthesia. It typically takes about 2 ½ hours.
- Liposuction: This also depends on the extent of the treatment. In some cases involving only small treatment areas, a patient can return to work after 24 hours. Generally, though, patients who get liposuction on the tummy, flanks, or thighs may need to take a week to 10 days off from work. You may need to wear a compression garment for a few days, and it will be 2 to 4 weeks before you can safely return to workouts and more vigorous activities. Full recovery may last between 1 to 6 months.
- Tummy Tuck: The healing process is more involved following tummy tuck surgery. Patients wear an abdominal binder for the first 6 weeks and should plan on taking a minimum of 2 weeks off from work. Some people need up to a month to recover before returning to work. Resuming activities, including exercise, takes 4 to 6 weeks.
- Liposuction: Most liposuction patients are already in fairly good shape and can maintain their results by exercising regularly and eating a healthy, nutritious diet.
- Tummy Tuck: Exercise and diet can also help maintain the results of a tummy tuck. For women in their childbearing years, getting pregnant after having a tummy tuck can compromise the results. Dr. Weinberg advises female patients to consider delaying a tummy tuck until they are certain they do not want more children.
View our photo gallery for additional before-and-after photos of liposuction and tummy tuck patients.