What’s The Difference Between Liposuction and Tummy Tuck Surgery?

Many men and women dream of a flat stomach and small waist. Many prefer undergoing different kinds of plastic surgeries to have a flat tummy with firm muscles. Today, two body plastic surgeries are very popular: abdominoplasty (or tummy tuck) and liposuction. In this article, we discuss the differences between liposuction vs tummy tuck and describe how they are performed.

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liposuction vs tummy tuck



Tummy Tuck


Removes localized fat deposits in specific areas

Removes excess skin and fat, tightens abdominal muscles

Ideal Candidate

Individuals with good skin elasticity and localized fat

Individuals with loose or sagging skin, excess belly fat, and weakened abdominal muscles

Procedure Length

1-3 hours

2-5 hours


Local or general anesthesia

General anesthesia

Recovery Time

1-2 weeks for light activity, full recovery in 4-6 weeks

4-6 weeks for light activity, full recovery in 6-8 weeks


Small incisions, minimal scarring

Significant scarring, typically from hip to hip


Noticeable reduction in fat deposits; not for skin tightening

More dramatic changes, including skin tightening and muscle repair

Permanent Results

Generally permanent, but can be affected by weight gain

Generally permanent, but lifestyle choices can impact long-term results

Follow-Up Care

May require compression garments for a few weeks

Requires compression garments and careful wound care

Risks and Complications

Infection, asymmetry, contour irregularities

Infection, scarring, bleeding, seroma, muscle damage


Generally lower due to less invasive nature

Generally higher due to complexity and longer recovery time

Difference between Liposuction and Abdominoplasty

Abdominoplasty and liposuction are two surgeries in which the stomach gets smoother, firmer, and smaller. Although there are significant differences between these two methods in terms of the procedure, recovery time, and risks, their main aim is similar. In the following, tummy tuck and liposuction are introduced separately:


As its name suggests, liposuction removes excess fat from the abdominal area. The stubborn fats that cannot be removed with diet and exercise can be removed with this surgery. During liposuction surgery, the surgeon makes small incisions on the abdomen, breaks the fat pockets into small parts, and removes them with a suction tube. Unlike tummy tuck surgery, liposuction surgery is not performed to remove excess and loose skin, cannot reduce stretch marks and does not tighten abdominal muscles.

Liposuction is more suitable for people with tight abdominal muscles and does not have loose skin. Also, people with normal BMIs who can't eliminate the localized fat in their stomachs are considered good candidates for liposuction.

In liposuction excess fat is sucked out from the abdominal area.

Liposuction is usually performed under general anesthesia, but in some cases, it can be done under spinal and epidural anesthesia. The method of anesthesia used in lipo surgery depends on the doctor's dissertation and the extent of the surgery. 

The whole liposuction procedure takes almost an hour, but the patient should stay a night at the hospital. The recovery period after this surgery can take two to six weeks, depending on the severity of the surgery. Most importantly, liposuction is done on the abdomen and other body areas, such as hips, arms, neck, and thighs.

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Almost all women who experience loose skin after pregnancy or severe weight loss cannot get rid of it by exercising. In abdominoplasty, also known as a tummy tuck, the excess skin and fat in the abdomen are removed, and the stomach gets flat.  

There are two main types of tummy tuck: full and mini. Both of these methods are performed under general anesthesia and take several hours. Also, it takes several months for their bruising and swelling to subside. On the other hand, one of the merits of tummy tuck is that the stretch marks and the scars of previous surgeries can be eliminated greatly during this operation.

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In a tummy tuck, the excess skin and fat in the abdomen are removed.

Who Is a Good Candidate?

Candidates for liposuction should:

  • Have realistic and clear expectations of the surgery;
  • Have a healthy lifestyle;
  • Have elastic skin;
  • Not have life-threatening diseases;
  • Be within 15% to 30% of their ideal body weight;
  • Be nonsmoker;
  • Have proper muscle tone.

Patients who have the following features are considered good candidates for tummy tuck:

  • Have stubborn fat and loose skin that cannot be removed by diet and exercise;
  • Have a healthy lifestyle;
  • I don't want to get pregnant in the future;
  • Are physically and mentally healthy;
  • Have a stable BMI;
  • Have realistic expectations;
  • Have elastic skin around the abdomen;

Liposuction vs Tummy Tuck: Procedure

Read on to get more information about the differences between the procedure of liposuction vs tummy tuck

Liposuction procedure

The first step in liposuction surgery is administering anesthesia. When the abdominal area is entirely numb or the patient gets unconscious, the surgeon makes several incisions around the fat deposits and sends a thin tube (called a cannula) under the skin to remove the fat cells. The doctor uses a surgical vacuum device to suck and remove fat masses in this surgery. Sometimes, all fats cannot be removed in one surgery and should be repeated to achieve the desired result.

In the liposuction procedure, a surgical vacuum device is used to suck and remove fat masses in this surgery.

Tummy tuck procedure

In a full tummy tuck, the surgeon makes one large horizontal incision on the lower part of the belly and one cut on the belly button after administering anesthesia. The abdominal muscles are repaired once the abdominal skin is lifted and the excess fat and skin are removed. Then, the surgeon repositions the navel, and the incisions are sutured. 

The procedure of a mini tummy tuck is the same as full abdominoplasty, with one slight difference: the incision in a mini tummy tuck is just a few inches. Since the mini tummy tuck's cuts and stitches are far fewer than the full one, it has a shorter recovery period and fewer scars.

What are the Side Effects of Liposuction and Abdominoplasty?

In the following, we compare the side effects of liposuction and abdominoplasty.

Liposuction side effects

If a skilled surgeon does liposuction surgery and the patient follows the postoperative instructions, they will not face serious side effects. Some of the possible complications of liposuction surgery include the following:

  • Anesthesia complications;
  • Liposuction lumpy and bumpy;
  • Numbness in the abdominal area, which may last for a month or more;
  • Pain in the incision site;
  • Redness or discoloration;
  • Infection;
  • Embolism;
  • Fluid accumulation;
  • Persistent bruising and swelling;
  • Damage to nerves and blood vessels.

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Tummy tuck side effects

  • Scarring;
  • Bruising;
  • Hematoma;
  • Seroma;
  • Tissue damage and necrosis;
  • Nausea, dizziness, and fatigue;
  • Skin tenderness;
  • Pain and swelling;
  • Backache.

Liposuction vs Tummy Tuck: Recovery

The recovery period of liposuction and tummy tuck are almost the same. The duration of this period depends on your age, general health, and the extent of the surgery. In the following, the recovery period of these surgeries is compared in detail. 

Liposuction recovery

The number of operating parts and the amount of removed fat play an important role in how easy your liposuction recovery will be. Swelling, fluid discharge, and mild bleeding are normal and inevitable side effects of liposuction that almost everyone experiences. To reduce these discomforts, you must wear a compression garment, take antibiotics and pain medications, and maintain a low-fat diet during the lipo recovery. The good news is that the recovery period of this surgery is concise, and you can get back to work two or three days after the operation. 

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Tummy tuck recovery

A tummy tuck is an invasive procedure and is done under general anesthesia. So, it would help if you stayed at the hospital 24 to 48 hours after the surgery. When discharging, your doctor will wrap up your stomach with surgical gauze and provide you with a compression garment or a binder. While at home, you should walk slowly around the house to prevent the formation of blood clots. Also, you must take painkillers, antibiotics, and perhaps some supplements during the abdominoplasty recovery. Although you may be able to get back to work ten days after the operation, you should refrain from any activity that strains the abdomen muscles or applies pressure on the stitches.

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After surgery wraps your abdomen with a compression garment or elastic bandages.

Liposuction vs Tummy Tuck Results

Liposuction and tummy tucks can both result in a smoother, flatter stomach. Liposuction is a procedure that permanently eliminates fat from the body. A tummy tuck removes the excess skin from the abdomen for good. However, it is necessary to note that weight gain and fluctuations can impact the outcomes of both of these treatments. Weight gain and future pregnancy might cause the skin to stretch and cause weight gain.

The key difference between the two procedures is the approach employed to achieve the results. Liposuction results in a flatter stomach with less fat around the stomach area. A tummy tuck, on the other hand, makes your stomach appear more toned and flatter. A tummy tuck may be appropriate if you have a lot of excess skin and want a flat stomach, but liposuction may be a better option for fat removal and a smoother-looking stomach. 

Liposuction vs Tummy Tuck Scars

In new liposuction methods such as laser-assisted, ultrasound-assisted, and VASER lipo, the surgeon makes tiny cuts on less visible body parts to insert the suctioning device and remove the fat cells. Therefore, the scars of these methods of lipo surgery are barely visible.

However, the surgeon makes a larger incision to access fat pockets in different body parts in tummy tuck and traditional liposuction. The larger the incisions, the more prominent the scars after the operation. Fortunately, not all scars need surgical treatment. Most lipo scars will go away independently, and tummy tuck scars get paler by applying topical creams and ointments.

If you want to know more about whether scars after liposuction fade away, read Raadina Health's liposuction scars article.

Liposuction vs Tummy Tuck Scars

Difference between Results of Liposuction and Abdominoplasty 

The results of both liposuction and tummy tuck are satisfactory and long-lasting. In abdominoplasty, a large volume of fat (almost four pounds), loose skin, and visible stretch marks are removed, and the skin is tightened. Therefore, this surgery is more suitable for the ones who expect significant shifts from their operation.

On the other hand, people with firm skin and tight abdominal muscles should undergo liposuction because, in this surgery, the skin cannot be tightened, and the results are less prominent. In any case, both liposuction and abdominoplasty make your stomach flatter and firmer. 

Should I Get a Tummy Tuck or Lipo?

Both liposuction and tummy tuck are popular plastic surgeries that contour your body. However, abdominoplasty is probably a more suitable option for you if you have excess abdominal skin or loose muscles in the abdominal area due to severe weight loss or pregnancy. On the other hand, if you have localized fat in the abdomen and have maintained a balanced BMI over a long period, liposuction surgery is a more suitable choice for you.

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Liposuction vs. Tummy Tuck Costs

The cost of liposuction vs tummy tuck might vary significantly based on various factors. Liposuction is a less invasive surgery that removes excess fat deposits from specific body parts. Liposuction costs normally range from $2,000 to $7,000, depending on the scope of the procedure and the surgeon's expertise.

On the other hand, a tummy tuck is a more thorough procedure that removes excess fat, tightens abdominal muscles, and removes loose skin. Due to its complexity, a tummy tuck often costs between $6,000 and $12,000.

However, it is important to note that these rates are estimates and may vary depending on geographical location, surgeon experience, facility fees, anesthesia charges, and extra treatments required. However, compared to other countries, the expenses of these two procedures are much lower in Iran. In 2023, the average price of a tummy tuck in Iran varied between $1,800 to $5,500. Liposuction surgery in Iran costs somewhere in the range of $1,500 to 2,500. 

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FAQs on the Difference between Liposuction and Abdominoplasty

1) Which is better for older people, liposuction or tummy tuck?

Since the skin of aged people is less elastic, surgeons use both techniques to contour their bodies. First, they remove excess pockets of fat in liposuction surgery and then perform tummy tuck to remove loose and saggy skin.

2) What is the best age for liposuction and tummy tuck?

The ideal age for both lipo and tummy tuck is between 30 and 40 because, during this period, the skin is still elastic and will heal sooner.

3) Which one removes stretch marks and cellulitis, lipo or abdominoplasty?

Neither lipo nor abdominoplasty can obliterate cellulite and stretch marks. Some stretch marks may be removed if you undergo a full tummy tuck. 

4) Can liposuction and tummy tuck be done together?

Performing liposuction and tummy tuck simultaneously is not only possible but it's often recommended. During such a surgery, unwanted fats are removed, the muscles are tightened up simultaneously, and the patient won't face the complications of the surgery twice.

5) Which one is more invasive, liposuction or tummy tuck?

The tummy tuck is a more invasive procedure and has higher risks.

10 comment

Your comment

  • پیش فرض

    Is lipo as painful as a tummy tuck?

    • پیش فرض
      Habib Ebrahimi

      Although people have different pain thresholds, most patients who have done both lipo and tummy tuck say that tummy tuck is more painful and has a much longer recovery period.

  • پیش فرض

    Does liposuction give me a flat stomach?

    • پیش فرض
      Habib Ebrahimi

      If you want a flat stomach, liposuction is the best option for you because it can remove abdomen fat deposits with high degree of accuracy. However, you should wait at least 6 months for the swelling to go down and the flat stomach appears.

  • پیش فرض

    Which one is cheaper lipo or tummy tuck?

    • پیش فرض
      Habib Ebrahimi

      Since liposuction is a less invasive and more straightforward procedure, its price is almost half of tummy tuck.

  • پیش فرض

    Hi, Is it possible to do tummy tuck and liposuction surgery together?

    • پیش فرض
      Habib Ebrahimi


      Yes, patients with larger volume of fat and higher expectations can undergo these two surgeries simultaneously. The combination of tummy tuck and lipo is called lipoabdominoplasty.

  • پیش فرض

    Does my weight matter in liposuction and tummy tuck?

    • پیش فرض
      Habib Ebrahimi

      Certainly yes. If you are overweight, you have to lose a couple of pounds before getting liposuction or tummy tuck. In fact, your BMI must be below 30 for achieving the best results from these surgeries.