When comparing tummy tucks versus liposuction, there is not one procedure that is better than the other – however one procedure may be better suited for your individual case.

At Houston Lipo Center in Houston TX, we specialize in liposuction. However, we get a lot of questions about tummy tucks and how they compare to lipo. There’s no “better” procedure, only the procedure that you need to achieve your desired results. You should not get a tummy tuck if you do not need one – there’s are no additional benefits for patients who do not need it.

What is a Tummy Tuck?

A tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, is an invasive surgical procedure that involves removing excess skin from the abdomen. It’s designed for patients who have loose skin from pregnancy or weight loss and want to “tighten up” the appearance of their stomach. While the majority of patients undergoing tummy tuck procedures are women, men can also have tummy tucks.

Patients must have a certain amount of excess skin to be a good candidate for a tummy tuck. Some patients may need a fully tummy tuck, others can get away with a ½ or ¼ abdominoplasty. Each will remove a different amount of excess skin – what’s needed will depend on the individual case.

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Because it requires large incisions, a tummy tuck will require general anesthesia. During the procedure, skin is strategically removed from the lower abdomen. Liposuction will be used to contour the abdomen. The remaining skin is stitched back together along the panty line. The belly button is surgically removed and relocated for optimal appearance. There will be a large scar as a result of the procedure, but it will be hidden by most underwear or swimsuits.

During a tummy tuck, specific procedures may be performed as needed. The most common of these is a diastasis recti repair. Diastasis recti is a condition that commonly affect pregnant women and can result in a stomach “pooch” that is not the result of fat (and therefore cannot be addressed by liposuction). This can be fixed by stitching the abdominal muscles together.

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Tummy tucks require a long and intense recovery process and can be very costly compared to liposuction. Because of this, most patients will choose liposuction of the abdomen unless a tummy tuck is needed to achieve their goals.

How Does Liposuction Differ from a Tummy Tuck?

Liposuction is the surgical removal of fat from specific body areas. It may be done in combination with skin-tightening procedures (such as laser treatments or Radio Frequency treatments), but unlike a tummy tuck it does not involve skin removal.

Liposuction can be done on a variety of body areas, not just the abdomen. These areas include the inner and outer thighs, hips and waist, back, arms, and even the male chest.

Liposuction is minimally invasive and can be performed under local anesthesia. During the procedure, the skin is numbed and small cannulas are inserted to suction fat from the desired areas. These tiny adits are created with a circular punch and don’t require incisions. They are so small that they close on their own and don’t require stitches. Recovery from liposuction generally takes four weeks. There may be minimal scarring – the size of a freckle – that will fade over the next several months.

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Real liposuction patient, Houston Lipo Center, Houston TX

Which Do I Need, Liposuction or a Tummy Tuck?

There is not one procedure that is going to be better than the other in all cases. The real question is whether you need a tummy tuck or whether liposuction alone will allow you to reach your goals. If you don’t have loose or excess skin around the abdomen, go with liposuction! There’s no benefit to getting a tummy tuck if you don’t need one (and no reputable surgeon would perform a procedure with no benefit to the patient).

If you have loose skin on your abdomen that hangs down, you need a tummy tuck. Liposuction, even with skin tightening, will not be enough to tighten the skin, and you will be left with a “flap” (panniculus). This requires skin removal to achieve a shapely abdomen.

If you have a diastasis recti, you may require a tummy tuck. Liposuction alone can remove excess fat but it will not be able to surgically repair the abdominal wall, which will not achieve the aesthetic results most patients desire.

There will be some cases where there is a bit of a gray area. In these cases, it is up to you personally. Consider what results you will be happy with and whether you’re willing to undergo the more invasive tummy tuck procedure to achieve a tight abdomen.

Tummy Tuck

  • Removes loose skin
  • Can repair abdominal separation
  • Requires general anesthesia
  • 3-4 weeks return-to-work time
  • Several months recovery time
  • Large scar
  • Costs $10,000+


  • Does not remove loose skin
  • Can be performed under local or general anesthesia
  • 24-48 hours return-to-work time
  • 3-4 weeks recovery time
  • Almost no scarring
  • Abdomen liposuction is $3,900-$4,900

Still not sure which is right for you? Watch Dr. Bergeron explain with examples in the video below, or give us a call Monday through Friday.

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