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What to Consider When Choosing Between a Tummy Tuck and Liposuction

Childbirth, menopause, and simply getting older can affect the way your tummy looks, even when you’re diligent about your weight, diet, and exercise. When you consider plastic surgery to address your cosmetic goals, tummy tucks and liposuction appear, on the surface, to offer similar benefits, but in fact there are some important differences. 

Your satisfaction with surgery depends on your body and the aesthetic results you have in mind. Partnering with an experienced plastic surgeon like Gul A. Zikria, M.D., FACOG is perhaps the most crucial decision. You’ll work with Dr. Zikria and our team to explore your options and decide on a treatment plan with the best chances for success, no matter which cosmetic procedure or combination you ultimately choose. 

Tummy tuck versus liposuction

Perhaps the best way to describe the differences between the two procedures is to regard liposuction as primarily a body shaping tool while tummy tucks address structural issues including excess skin and muscle structure. Let’s look more closely at each procedure. 

Tummy tuck

Tummy tucks, like liposuction, can remove excess fat from the abdomen, but they go much further. Part of the reason for a bulging tummy traces back to stretched or separated abdominal muscles resulting from pregnancy. When your sit-up muscles have been affected, you lose muscular support that helps to keep your tummy flat. 

A tummy tuck can repair this separation, and that in itself helps to contain and shape your midsection. You may have excess skin as well due to stretching during pregnancy or if you’ve had significant weight loss at some point in your life. Everyone has their own level of skin laxity, however, so you may have more or less excess skin than average. If the tummy tuck procedure will leave you with excess skin folds, or if you have these already, they will be removed as part of the surgery. 


There’s a singular purpose to an abdominal liposuction procedure, and that’s the removal of fat. However, liposuction is a body sculpting technique, not a weight-loss method. You should be at or near your optimal weight, but with fat deposits on your belly that resist further efforts for toning or reduction. 

Your body changes the way it stores fat over the course of your life, so it’s natural to experience subdermal fat bulges that you didn’t have when you were younger. Since this fat resides between your skin and muscle, muscle toning exercise has little effect on containment of these deposits. Removal of fat through liposuction is likely your best option if you have no other skin or muscle issues. 

Combining tummy tuck and liposuction

In some cases, it’s possible to combine the two procedures, depending on your goals and current body condition. Sometimes, these can be done simultaneously in a single surgery. In other cases, it may be advisable to have the procedures done individually. 

The best advice for your situation comes in consultation with a cosmetic surgery specialist. Contact Gul A. Zikria, MD, FACOG at our Milpitas, California, practice. You’re assured the most professional advice and care from an expert practitioner. Call 408-290-8289 to book your consultation today.  

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