Tummy Tuck Vs. Lipo: Which Should I Choose?

Woman with hands on her waist and at her leg (MODEL).

Tummy tuck or liposuction? Neither is a weight loss treatment, but both offer slimmer contours, a more defined waistline, and a flatter stomach. They may seem similar on paper, but in practice, there is a world of difference. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the “tummy tuck vs. lipo” debate to help you choose which procedure is right for you.

Drainless Tummy Tuck Surgery

Abdominoplasty surgery, more commonly known as a tummy tuck, has three main goals:

  • Repair separated abdominal muscles (a condition called diastasis recti)
  • Remove excess deposits of fat
  • Tighten and trim loose skin

We proudly offer drainless tummy tuck surgery to help give patients a smoother, more comfortable healing process. We want our patients to focus on resting and recovering—not worrying about their surgical drain maintenance.

In a drainless tummy tuck procedure, we use progressive tension sutures to compress the area and prevent a seroma (a buildup of wound fluid) from forming under the skin. These specially layered sutures also promote a faster recovery and reduced scarring.

Abdominoplasties are performed as outpatient procedures under general anesthesia. During the surgery, your board-certified plastic surgeon will:

  • Make two incisions: One encircling your belly button and one low on the abdomen that runs between your hip bones
  • Close the separated abdominal muscles using stitches to strengthen the core and minimize the “belly pooch” that this separation causes
  • Remove excess fat and skin
  • Create a new opening for your belly button
  • Suture your incisions

Patients generally need to take 2 to 3 weeks off work or school for their tummy tuck recovery. It will take at least a few days before you can stand fully upright, as the newly tightened abdominal skin needs time to stretch.

That being said, our practice uses Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) protocols to help support best post-operative outcomes for our patients. In addition to avoiding drains, we use long-lasting numbing medications and offer several scar-reduction options (e.g., Silagen® scar refinement strips) to help minimize the appearance of your scars.

Tummy tuck results can last indefinitely so long as patients maintain a stable weight. We recommend that patients who may become pregnant wait until after they are done growing their families before having an abdominoplasty, as pregnancy and childbirth can undo the results of your procedure.

Before and After Tummy Tuck
Before and After Tummy Tuck


Hagopian Plastic Surgery offers SAFELipo®, which offers several benefits over traditional liposuction, including:

  • Minimal damage to the surrounding tissue and blood vessels
  • Consistent, even fat removal that reduces surface irregularities
  • Enhanced skin retraction (adjusting to its slimmer state)

The “safe” in SAFELipo isn’t just to do with the procedure’s gentle (but no less powerful) nature. It’s actually an acronym for the three phases of treatment:

  • Separation: Your plastic surgeon uses a special vibrating cannula (a thin tube that can be inserted into the body) to coax the fat away from the surrounding tissues.
  • Aspiration: The fat is then suctioned from the body through the cannula.
  • Fat Equalization: A second, smaller cannula contours the remaining fat tissue for a consistent, smooth result.

SAFELipo typically involves general anesthesia and is performed as an outpatient procedure. The surgery is ideal for patients who have stubborn fat deposits that a healthy lifestyle and exercise can’t seem to address.

In addition to the abdomen, SAFELipo can contour other areas of the body, including the:

  • Flanks (love handles)
  • Back
  • Hips
  • Thighs
  • Arms
  • Chin

Fat collected from this procedure can also be processed through a centrifuge and used to augment a patient’s breasts or buttocks in a fat transfer breast augmentation or Brazilian Butt Lift (BBL).

Most patients are back at work within a few days of their procedure and can resume daily moderate physical activity by the end of 2 weeks. As with our abdominoplasty patients, we offer a variety of therapies to minimize scarring.

Before and After SAFELipo
Before and After SAFELipo
Before and After SAFELipo

Combining a Tummy Tuck with Lipo

A tummy tuck can create astounding transformations by itself, but for some patients, their results can be further enhanced with liposuction.

SAFELipo removes unwanted fat around the midsection and creates a smooth, even surface on which the tightened abdominal skin can rest. Liposuction treatments can be seamlessly integrated into the tummy tuck surgery—including other areas of the body for a more comprehensive result!

Tummy Tuck with Liposuction
Tummy Tuck with Liposuction
Tummy Tuck with Liposuction
Tummy Tuck with Liposuction

Get Started

Liposuction vs. tummy tuck: which one will give you your best results? It depends on your cosmetic goals. SAFELipo offers safe, gentle contouring all over the body, while a tummy tuck substantially reduces, repairs and removes excess skin from the abdominal area.

Abdominoplasty addresses both functional and cosmetic concerns, including separated muscles, pronounced skin laxity, and stubborn deposits of localized fat. With the help of liposuction, patients can enjoy a flatter stomach and sleeker figure while still reaping all the benefits of a tummy tuck.

We encourage you to view our before and after photo gallery to see what results are possible with each procedure. If you are ready to take the next step, please request a consultation or call us at  (404) 885-8542.

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