Tummy Tuck vs. Liposuction: Getting the Results You Want

Dr. Daniel Butz

There are many patients who are unhappy with the appearance of their abdominal area.  Some have had children and others have lost a significant amount of weight. There are also those who have stubborn areas of fat that just won’t go away no matter how carefully they eat or how much they exercise. Whatever the reason, it’s the combination of extra fat, loose skin, and stretched out abdominal wall muscles that often results in an abdominal appearance that is less than flattering.

Patients who want to improve their waistline, fit more comfortably into their clothes, or feel more confident at the beach or pool can benefit greatly from liposuction or a tummy tuck.

But knowing which procedure will address your concerns the best can be confusing. That’s why we’ve taken it upon ourselves to guide you through the similarities, differences and what you can expect when considering these two options.

What’s the Difference between lipo and tuck?

Liposuction is a great option for patients who have extra pockets of fat with good skin quality (no stretch marks, no loose skin) and no stretched muscle.

For patients with excess skin and loose abdominal muscles (rectus diastasis) a tummy tuck would be the procedure of choice. Liposuction can be combined with a tummy tuck to remove fat as well.  However, liposuction alone will not address extra skin and stretched muscles.

The key difference, and what patients ultimately need to consider before choosing one of these options, is what goes into the overall process of each procedure from the surgery itself to recovery and aftercare.

The Liposuction Procedure: What to Expect

When we perform liposuctions here at Quintessa, a cannula is used to gently break up the fat and then remove it through incisions that are about a quarter of an inch long. While there may be some mild bruising and swelling, this usually resolves in the following weeks.  

Liposuction Recovery Time

Wearing a compression garment during the recovery period is important. Most patients will take off from work for a couple of days or up to a week, depending on how many areas of the body are being treated. Patients usually report they have some discomfort but not pain – often equating the feeling to working out too hard at the gym. Keep in mind, every patient has a different pain response to the same procedure.

The Tummy Tuck Procedure: What to Expect

When we perform a tummy tuck, all the skin from the belly button down to the pubic area is removed. The rectus abdominis muscles are tightened along the midline from just below the chest all the way down to the pubic area.  

Fat can then be removed from the tummy area and flank area depending on the patient’s shape. There will be a scar that goes from hip to hip that is low lying and can be covered easily by undergarments or a bathing suit. There will also be a scar around the belly button.  The recovery for a tummy tuck is longer than liposuction recovery time due to the muscle tightening.

Tummy Tuck Recovery Time

We usually recommend two weeks off work following a tummy tuck procedure. Although, some patients may need less or more time depending on their work or daily activities.

For most patients, doing the tummy tuck without drains is an option that helps them get moving faster post-op. Numbing medicine injected during the surgery helps patients take less pain medicine after the surgery. A compression garment is worn after a tummy tuck, just as it is after liposuction.  

Bottom Line

A rounded, unflattering look on the stomach area can be caused by a variety of things. The good news is there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Whether you’ve given birth, lost excess weight, or have had lingering issues despite regular diet and exercise, both liposuction and tummy tuck surgery are extremely viable options that are worth considering.

Most importantly, remember that you’re not on your own. Don’t worry if you’re not sure which procedure is right for you. That’s our job! Come in for a consultation and we can discuss all the options for addressing your areas of concern along with best practices for a speedy recovery.

Whether you’re interested in plastic surgery or exploring non-surgical alternatives, we’re confident Quintessa’s team of certified specialists can help achieve the results you’re looking for. Schedule a consultation today or visit us in person at one of our southeastern Wisconsin locations in DelafieldMadisonMequonMiddleton and Sheboygan to learn more.

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