Is a Tummy Tuck or Liposuction a Better Option?

Is a Tummy Tuck or Liposuction a Better Option?

How do I decide between a tummy tuck or liposuction?

This is one of the most common questions that we answer in the office.  Many patients, both women and men, seek surgical improvement to look their best, have proper proportions, and feel confident.  There is some confusing information out there regarding who is the best candidate for each procedure, and it continues to get even more confusing when you add in the non-invasive fat reduction technologies such as CoolSculpting®.  The best first step is to have an in-person consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon in your area.  If you are reading this and live in the San Diego area, we certainly hope that you will come in to see us!  Having choices is important, and both the American Society of Plastic Surgeon (ASPS) and American Society for Aesthetic Surgery (ASAPS) have “Find a Surgeon” features on their respective websites.  Both highly regarded professional societies only offer membership to board-certified plastic surgeons who uphold the highest standards of patient safety and integrity.

How do I know if I am a candidate for a tummy tuck?

The best candidates for tummy tuck surgery, also known as abdominoplasty, have some excess skin and fat of the lower abdomen and are in good health.  If you have a little extra fat but not much excess skin, the conversation will most likely turn toward liposuction.  The quality of the skin also plays a part in the decision.  Stretch marks and extra skin after pregnancy, weight loss, or the natural aging process tend to have better results with a tummy tuck.  Many women who have been pregnant will have some separation of the abdominal muscles, a condition known as diastasis recti.  A big part of the tummy tuck procedure is muscle repair and bringing the stretched-out abdominal muscles back into a normal anatomic position.  This has been shown to not only have cosmetic benefits, but also can restore some core strength that has been lost. 

How do I know if liposuction is right for me?

Liposuction may be a good choice if you have some localized areas of fat that don’t respond to exercise or healthy eating.  These stubborn spots seem to be more regulated by genetics and hormones than by exercise and good nutrition.  The tummy, thighs, arms, and flanks are common areas that are treated with liposuction.  Liposuction permanently removes the fat cells from that area and is great for people who have good skin quality, no stretch marks, and are already at a healthy weight.

How much weight will I lose with a tummy tuck or liposuction?

It is important to remember that a tummy tuck and liposuction are body contouring procedures and are not designed as weight loss operations.  Most patients will notice a small change of around 2-5 pounds on the scale, so it is important to prepare for surgery by already being at a stable weight and engaged with a regular exercise regimen and healthy eating habits.  After having surgery, the temptation to fall into poor habits is very real.  About 20% of patients will gain weight after liposuction unless they remain dedicated to exercise and good eating. 

Can I have a tummy tuck and liposuction at the same time?

Yes!  Often, this is the combination of procedures that will yield the best overall results.  The combination of removing excess skin and repairing the abdominal muscles during a tummy tuck is complemented with removing some excess fat from the hips, upper abdomen, back, and thighs using liposuction.  It is important to communicate your aesthetic goals with your surgeon so that a customized treatment plan can be formulated that will leave you looking your best.

Can I get the same results without having surgery?

No.  There is an abundance of non-invasive technologies that claim to provide surgical results without having to undergo surgery.  While some of these technologies have a modest result and can be effective in the right patient, most patients are much better served with the traditional tummy tuck and/or liposuction procedures.  The non-invasive procedures require multiple treatments and can take up to 4-6 months to demonstrate results not to mention are frequently nearly the same cost as surgery when you add everything up.  No result is as dramatic as a tummy tuck with liposuction.  These two procedures go together and combine to provide safe and consistently excellent results.

How does Restore SD Plastic Surgery do things differently than other practices?

We believe in minimizing narcotic usage, so we use the long-acting numbing medication, Exparel, to make your recovery as smooth and comfortable as possible.  The Exparel is injected around the surgical site near the end of your procedure and lasts for around 3 days.  This is not to say that you won’t have some discomfort after surgery – you will.  Exparel just makes it a lot better!  We try to use as few narcotic pain medications as possible, and Exparel is an effective medication that significantly decreases or eliminates the need for narcotics after surgery.  The other thing that we do differently is provide you with three scar laser treatments after your procedure.  After surgery, you will have a scar; we just want it to be the best scar possible.  There is no extra charge for the laser treatments; it is a value-added service that we provide to our patients.

How do I get started with a tummy tuck or liposuction consultation?

We would love to see you for your complimentary tummy tuck or liposuction consult at Restore SD Plastic Surgery.  We specialize in aesthetic body contouring surgery and look forward to working with you to develop a customized treatment plan that is ideally suited to your individual features, aesthetic goals, budget, and recovery timeline.  Call us at 858-239-2486 or email us at to book today.  Be sure to read our other tummy tuck and liposuction blogs, watch our videos, and sign up for our email list to keep up to date with specials and promotions!

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