Tummy Tuck or Liposuction? Which Is Best for You?

Dr. David Stoker

woman in field wearing floppy hat as sun sets behind her

With different body contouring options available at my Los Angeles plastic surgery center, it can be difficult to determine which procedure is right for you. In this post we will discuss the differences between liposuction and tummy tuck, also called abdominoplasty, to help you find a treatment plan that fits your needs.

Who Is a Candidate?

To be a good candidate, both procedures require that you have a healthy BMI and be at a stable weight. You also must be in good overall health and have realistic expectations and a positive outlook. For both liposuction and tummy tuck, it is important that you do not have any medical conditions that put you at a high risk for complications during or after surgery.

  • Liposuction is ideal for people looking to reduce fat in problematic areas but who do not have excess, sagging skin. In fact, liposuction patients must have good skin elasticity because when fat is removed, the skin must shrink to fit the new, slimmer contours. Without good skin elasticity, sagging is more likely after the procedure. Ideal candidates are men and women ages 18 years to the mid-70s who are close to their ideal weight.
  • Tummy tuck surgery, on the other hand, does not require good skin elasticity as the procedure is actually designed to correct sagging skin. Tummy tuck patients may also have muscle laxity due to aging, pregnancy, or significant weight fluctuations. Though it is not mandatory, I usually recommend that patients are done having children to have a tummy tuck. Pregnancy can negatively affect your results.

Treatment Areas

  • Liposuction is a versatile surgery that can be performed on many areas of the body. The most common treatment areas include the abdomen, buttocks, upper arms, thighs, neck, and flanks. Men can also opt for treatment on the chest.
  • A tummy tuck can address a protruding stomach and sagging skin in the lower abdomen, allowing patients to restore a flat tummy and a more defined waist. Various tummy tuck techniques can achieve other specific results. For example, in addition to removing excess skin from the midsection, I can also tighten the abdominal muscles, which, for women, may have become separated during pregnancy. Additionally, a tummy tuck can be beneficial for patients who experience back pain and urinary incontinence.


  • During a liposuction procedure, I start by making small incisions. Then I insert a thin tube called a cannula that breaks up and removes excess fat. Liposuction can sometimes be performed under local anesthesia. However, if more than one area is being treated or liposuction is being combined with another procedure, general anesthesia is required.
  • A tummy tuck requires a horizontal incision below the bikini line that goes from hip to hip. It also requires another incision around the belly button. Once the incisions are made, I will repair the separated muscles and remove the excess skin. The remaining skin is re-draped over the abdomen and closed with sutures. Tummy tucks at my practice are always performed under general anesthesia.


  • After liposuction, you may feel sore for a few days. You will need to wear a compression garment to control any bruising or swelling. I recommend that patients begin walking around as soon as possible to promote good blood flow. However, you should avoid strenuous activity for several weeks. Most patients return to work after a few days, depending on the extent of their treatment. Liposuction is less invasive and requires less downtime than a tummy tuck.
  • After tummy tuck surgery, you will need to wear a compression garment for several weeks to help with healing. You will not be able to stand upright at first, but I advise that you begin walking within a day or 2 after your procedure. Patients can typically return to desk jobs in under 2 weeks. If your job requires manual labor, you may need to take off work for 4 to 6 weeks.


  • Fat removal from liposuction is immediate. However, you will not be able to see your final results until the swelling has subsided. After just a few months, you will be able to enjoy your new body.
  • Tummy tuck surgery offers dramatic and long-lasting improvement. After a few weeks of recovery, you will be able to see your new, sculpted abdomen.

Some patients may benefit from combining these 2 procedures. If you want to discuss your options, request a consultation online or call our office at (310) 300-1779.

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