The Surgeon Minute

Liposuction? Tummy Tuck?

Liposuction? Tummy Tuck?

Many women looking to restore vitality to their midsection following either pregnancies and/or massive weight loss typically are concerned with loose skin. In addition, abdominal muscles may not be as responsive as they once were, adding a soft and possibly uneven look with or without skin problems.

These would-be patients might do some research and discover that an abdominoplasty – or tummy tuck – seems to be the right option for their concerns. When the procedure and recovery sound a bit overwhelming, they might think, “Maybe I can get by with liposuction alone?”

Dr. Richard A. Baxter of Seattle sees many patients concerned with their abdomens and strikes a balance between a successful procedure and patient expectations. Instilling patients with knowledge and the right expectations can go a long way towards not only getting the best results possible, but doing so in the most efficient way.

By Richard A. Baxter, MD
and Adam McMillon
The Plastic Surgery Channel

What can be done to fix my tummy?

Loose skin, stretch marks, and stretched out abdominal muscles are the typical tradeoffs for bringing life into this world. For some woman, the expansion and contraction of the abdomen leaves little evidence behind. For others, loose skin and weak muscles persist no matter the amount of diet and exercise. The good news for the latter population is many options exist to restore the abdomen.


“A lot of people ask, ‘Do I need to have a tummy tuck? Can’t I just get by with liposuction?’,” says Dr. Baxter. “That’s a really important question because there’s a real difference in the recovery. Liposuction has a fairly quick and easy recovery while a tummy tuck is a bigger operation.”

Knowing which procedure you need doesn’t have to fall squarely on the patient; choosing a board certified plastic surgeon with vast experience in abdominoplasty and liposuction will give the ultimate advice as to which procedure will best fit your needs.

How do you know which one you need?

The difference between liposuction and abdominoplasty in terms of choosing one or the other typically depends on where you’re at in life. Are you finished having children and in the best shape possible? Has your body just undergone massive weight-loss with plans to maintain your current weight? Many factors exist, which is why trusting a surgeon’s experience and ability to gauge your unique situation is key.

“If you have loose skin, stretch marks, if you’ve had multiple pregnancies and/or massive weight loss, chances are you have skin laxity issues and a tummy tuck is going to be the better way to go,” says Baxter. “If you have good skin tone, if you’re considering having more children in the future, then liposuction may be the right way forward.”


Baxter reinforces the notion that understanding the procedures and what they do is paramount. “The important thing is not to try and attach expectations of a tummy tuck or other skin tightening procedures to liposuction,” explains Baxter. “Whether you’re using lasers or not, it’s not going to give you the same results.”

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