Tummy Tuck or Liposuction? What is the Difference?

By: Dr. Nana Mizuguchi


Almost everyone wants a slim, narrow figure. Unfortunately, most men and women aren't able to achieve this figure naturally, even through the utilization of proper diet and exercise plans. Due to this, plastic surgeries — such as tummy tucks and liposuction — have become increasingly popular. However, these operations are not interchangeable. They serve two very different functions and yield the best results for two different types of patients. Double board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Nana Mizuguchi and his talented team at Mizuguchi Plastic Surgery perform both of these operations for our patients in Louisville, KY. Allow us to walk you through which of these surgeries might be best for you.

What is a Tummy Tuck?

Whether due to aging, pregnancy, heredity, or weight fluctuation, it's all too easy for our abdomen to begin to stick out or sag. A tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, focuses on the removal of excess fat and skin in the abdomen, as well as the restoration of weakened or separated abdominal muscles.

The procedure begins with the administration of either intravenous sedation or general anesthesia based on which option Dr. Mizuguchi decides is best for your needs. Once the anesthesia has taken effect, a horizontal incision is made between the pubic hairline and navel. This incision could be a variety of sizes depending on the amount of excess skin that needs to be removed. The skin is then lifted before the abdominal muscles can be restored. In certain cases, a second incision may be made near the belly button to remove additional skin in the area of the upper abdomen. Finally, the unnecessary skin will be cut back, and the remaining skin will be sutured together.

Final results to your figure are usually visible within 4 – 6 months of the procedure. However, the scar associated with tummy tucks will continue to fade for anywhere from several months to a year after the surgery.

What is Liposuction?

Liposuction is a procedure used to remove or reshape stubborn pockets of excess fatty tissue. It's important to keep in mind that this is not a weight-loss treatment. Therefore, all patients should be within about 30% of their ideal weight. It can be used on numerous areas of the body, including:

  • Thighs
  • Hips and buttocks
  • Abdomen and waist
  • Upper arms
  • Back
  • Calves and ankles

Before the procedure begins, Dr. Mizuguchi will decide whether to use local anesthesia, intravenous sedation, or general anesthesia. Once the patient has been sedated, a series of small, virtually unnoticeable incisions will be made in the targeted area(s). A cannula will then be inserted into these incisions in order to loosen excess fat in the area. As the fat is extricated, it is sucked out of the body via an on-board vacuum attached to the cannula. Final results from this procedure have usually developed within 1 – 3 months of the surgery.

What are the Differences Between a Tummy Tuck and Liposuction?

While both procedures are considered fat-removal surgeries, there are more differences than there are similarities. For instance, liposuction only removes fat. It is not used for skin tightening. Therefore, liposuction is likely not an ideal option for someone who has undergone significant weight loss. Additionally, liposuction tends to leave less-visible scars due to its smaller incisions. For this same reason, recovery from liposuction is usually significantly faster than from a tummy tuck. A good rule of thumb is if you've maintained a consistent weight, are close to your target weight, and are in need of body contouring, liposuction is likely a potential option for you. Alternatively, tummy tucks are usually reserved for those suffering from moderate to severe loose skin in addition to the fat. To clear up any other discrepancies, set up a call with our plastic surgery practice in Louisville, KY.

Remove Your Insecurities

If you've been considering one of these procedures, allow dual board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Nana Mizuguchi and his professional staff in Louisville, KY to assess your specific situation and offer their advice. Mizuguchi Plastic Surgery is always here to listen to any of your concerns and ensure you feel 100% comfortable with every choice you make. Contact us today to set up a consultation to discuss your aesthetic goals with our team.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.