There are various reasons why people choose to sculpt their body. Some may seek reconstruction after their pregnancy or weight loss and others may want to remove the stubborn fat from their abdomen, flanks, thighs, or elsewhere.

Whatever the motivation, they should know there are various procedures for them to achieve their desired results. Among them, the most related — yet often confused — are “liposuction” and “tummy tuck”. But, how do these two procedures differ?

woman sitting and touching her belly with her hands after tummy tuck

You want a firmer belly? Tummy tuck may be the right option.

Differences between liposuction and tummy tuck

Liposuction and tummy tuck are two cosmetic surgeries suitable for those who want to have a flatter and firmer midsection or profile. However, they differ in terms of purpose, procedure, recovery, results, and complications.

1) Purpose and application

Liposuction aims at removing local fat from various parts of the body, including, but not limited to, stomach, flanks, thighs, hips, buttocks, calves, arms, chin, and neck. It improves your body shape and contour. It does not address the loose skin you’ve got due to aging or after your childbearing.

Tummy tuck only targets the protruded abdominal area. It removes fat and fatty tissues as well as saggy skin from your stomach. It also tightens your midsection muscles, something that cannot be achieved through lipo. Sometimes, it can further give a narrower waist which is desired by many women.

2) Procedural differences

Liposuction is performed under local anesthesia and through small incisions. In abdominoplasty, however, the surgeon usually applies general anesthesia and makes an incision from hip to hip and maybe around the belly button if it needs repositioning.

During liposuction surgery, the fat is suctioned out of the body through a cannula. In a tummy tuck, an opening is made in your lower abdomen through which the fat and excess skin are extracted.

3)  Recovery

As a less invasive procedure, liposuction has a shorter and easier recovery period. After around 2-3 days, you’ll be able to go to work. However, you need to avoid strenuous activities for at most 2 weeks.

During the recovery, you experience bruising, swelling, and minimal pain and bleeding. They will reduce and disappear by the end of the second week after your surgery.

For a tummy tuck, recovery is a longer and more complex process. You’ll need to call off working and other activities for around 2 weeks. During this time, pain, incision’s soreness, bruising, and swelling are normal.

Heavy lifting, strenuous activities, and sex are not permitted for about 1 month or more after the operation. Furthermore, swelling may remain there for a few months up to 6 months following your abdominoplasty.

4) Results

To achieve a stable firm belly, abdominoplasty is the best option. The results are long-lasting, but they will show up after 6 months when swelling is gone entirely.

Liposuction’s results are also promising and you can see them after around 2 weeks. However, some believe that the fat bulges may come again after one or two years.

5) Complications

Just like many other surgeries, tummy tuck and lipo may have some risks and complications, which are often rare and temporary. Discussing your medical history with your doctor and following his/her instructions are very important in the prevention of possible risks and complications.

Reaction to anesthesia, infection, poor wound healing, tissue necrosis, skin sensation alteration, seroma, and hematoma are some possible side effects of abdominoplasty.

For liposuction, the risks of reaction to anesthesia, infection, and seroma also exist. Other complications include irregular contouring, damage to the surrounding tissues, and fat embolism, which are rarely observed.

How to determine whether I need liposuction or tummy tuck?

If you want a procedure to shape a part of your body other than your abdomen, liposuction would be the very thing. But, what if you want to do something about your protruded stomach?

If there’s a lot of loose skin shaking around every time you bend over, you most probably need abdominoplasty.

For those with a tight skin but bulks of fat in their abdomen, liposuction can work better and it will be a smoother procedure to undergo.

In the end, we recommend you to discuss your expectations, goals, and needs with your doctor or contact us for a free consultation and then prepare yourself for the perfect you.

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