Cosmetic Surgery Tips

What Is More Painful Tummy Tuck or Liposuction

Tummy tuck is a surgical procedure that removes excess skin and tissue from the abdomen, as well as fat deposits. Liposuction, on the other hand, is a cosmetic surgery in which excess fat is removed from specific areas of the body.

Although both are made to improve your appearance, tummy tucking has been known to cause more pain than liposuction because it involves cutting into your abdominal muscles and removing tissue underneath them. This can cause more bleeding during surgery and may require stitches if you have had any type of abdominal surgery before. In addition, liposuction only requires you to be numb around your waistline, while a tummy tuck requires general anesthesia throughout your entire body.

It depends on the person. Some people can handle tummy tucks, but not liposuction. Other people do fine with both.

tummy tuck vs liposuction

What Is More Painful Tummy Tuck or Liposuction

Quick Answer: Tummy tuck surgery (abdominoplasty) is best at addressing excess skin and loose muscles. Liposuction targets isolated fat pockets that are resistant to diet and exercise. Tummy tuck procedures are more invasive, requiring general anesthesia and an extensive recovery period. In contracts, liposuction can be done under twilight anesthesia and has relatively little downtime. Continue reading to learn the differences between liposuction and tummy tuck surgery.

Tummy tucks are more painful because they involve cutting into your abdomen and removing tissue—which is painful. Liposuction involves just sucking out fat, which is less painful.

However, there are also other factors that can make a tummy tuck more painful than liposuction: if you have a lot of scar tissue, it could be harder to recover from the tummy tuck; if you have a lot of loose skin from weight loss, then it could be harder to get rid of with liposuction; if you’re older or have underlying health conditions that make surgery more risky for you, then it might be safer to opt for liposuction instead of a tummy tuck.


Liposuction is ideal for removing localized fatty tissue that is centralized to specific areas (think “buldges”). The tumescent liposuction is specifically effective for safely removing excess stubborn fat. Liposuction is also far less invasive than a tummy tuck, which involves a scarring, general anesthesia, and long recovery times.

Additionally, liposuction can be used on many other places of the body than the stomach, including the sides (love handles), arms, chin, legs, and butt.

Liposuction is perfect for people who generally have good skin and muscle tone. These are individuals who do not have issues like excess skin in the midsection or loose abdominal muscles. Often liposuction improves the shape of the patient’s stomach to a point where they look better in and out of clothes; solving the main concern of the patient.

However, liposuction will not eliminate extra skin, stretch marks, or issues stemming from loose abdominal muscles. Often, these issues can be associated with massive weight loss or pregnancy.

Liposuction without Tummy Tuck Pictures

patient A Liposuction before side view
Dr. Cameron Craven
Dr. Gregory Nikolaidis



A tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) is a great procedure for removing excess abdominal skin while tightening the abdominal muscles.

The tummy tuck procedure starts with an incision across the lower abdomen allowing a surgeon to remove excess skin and tighten slack muscles. Any remaining skin is then re-draped over the abdominal area leaving a flat and tight stomach.

In short, a tummy tuck is the best option if the patient’s main problem is loose skin or stretched muscle tissue (not fat).

Before and After Tummy Tuck

before tummy tuck front
Dr. Cameron Craven
Dr. Timothy McGee

The Key Indicator: Isolated Fat or Excess Skin And/or Lax Muscles?

Liposuction is commonly the best treatment for those with good skin tone and a relatively flat abdominal wall. Patients who do not have excess skin or lax muscles and just require the removal of isolated pockets of excess fat are ideal candidates for liposuction. Liposuction removes excess fat between the skin and abdominal wall through tiny incisions. A skilled surgeon won’t simply remove fat, but will sculpt an aesthetically pleasing contour.

The best candidates for liposuction generally fit the following profile:

  • Within 20 pounds of their ideal body weight
  • Have no history of pregnancy or significant weight loss
  • Do not exhibit issues related to loose muscles or excess (sagging) skin
  • Seek only the removal of isolated (diet and exercise resistant) pockets of fat

Patients with excess skin or abdominal muscles which have become loose or stretched may need a tummy tuck procedure. In this case, a liposuction procedure could actually result in even more loose, sagging skin.

Otherwise known as abdominoplasty, tummy tucks can be performed instead of or in addition to liposuction. A tummy tuck involves surgical excision (removal) of fat or excess skin as well as the tightening of underlying muscle tissue. Tummy tuck results are often dramatic, transforming the entire abdominal area into a tighter and tone silhouette.

Ideal candidates for abdominoplasty generally fit the following profile:

  • Have a history of pregnancy or significant weight loss
  • Have excess, loose, or droopy skin
  • Have issues related to lax or loose muscles
  • Require both fat removal and skin tightening for an improved contour

What Is More Painful Tummy Tuck Or Liposuction

When comparing the pain levels of a Tummy tuck and Liposuction, it is important to note that pain tolerance and individual experiences can vary.

Tummy tuck is generally considered to be more painful than Liposuction due to its invasiveness and the extent of tissue manipulation involved. However, it’s important to consult with a qualified plastic surgeon to discuss individual circumstances and pain management options.

Liposuction vs Tummy Tuck: What’s the Difference?


Ultimately, the choice between a tummy tuck or liposuction procedure depends on the needs and desired final result of the patient. Liposuction does not address sagging skin, lax muscles, cellulite or stretch marks. The procedure is solely intended to remove isolated areas of unwanted fat and contour the treatment area. Tummy tuck surgery has the ability to tighten lax abdominal muscles and remove excess fat and skin in order to completely transform the appearance of the stomach.

As long as the patient maintains them properly after surgery, both procedures can produce lasting results.

Procedure Invasiveness

While both liposuction and tummy tuck techniques can vary, tummy tuck is often considered a more invasive procedure than liposuction. Lipo can be performed without the use of general anesthesia. The procedure requires several small incisions, which allow a small tube called a cannula to be inserted in order to suck out unwanted fat and contour the body.

A tummy tuck is a more invasive surgery which requires a larger incision. Tummy tuck incisions run horizontally between the hips and sometimes around the belly button. These larger incisions allow surgeons to surgically excise (remove) excess skin and tissue, as well as manually tighten loose or lax muscle. Often, the belly button is repositioned before the incisions are closed with sutures.

Recovery Times

Recovery from liposuction is typically quicker than tummy tuck recovery. Most patients can resume light activity within 2–3 days of their surgery. Moderate to strenuous activity can resume after 2-3 weeks.

Tummy tuck recovery, on the other hand, often requires 2-3 weeks of rest before returning to work or light movement. A return to moderate or strenuous activity can take up to 3 months, at which point muscles and incisions have both fully healed.


While pain tolerance can differ from individual to individual, patients often say the process of recovering from tummy tuck surgery is more painful than liposuction. While liposuction requires small incisions in the skin only, many tummy tuck techniques involve incisions that penetrate the muscle. Additionally, the tightening of abdominal muscles during a tummy tuck procedure can cause pain and discomfort for several days after the procedure. However, any pain or discomfort from either procedure can be effectively managed via prescription pain medication.


Like any surgical procedure, both liposuction and tummy tuck surgery can result in scarring. However, the risk of developing a visible scar after liposuction is lower compared to a tummy tuck procedure. Most liposuction techniques involve incision sites that are small and typically hidden, where they will be covered by undergarments or bikini bottoms.

Although skilled surgeons will also make tummy tuck incisions in places where clothing can cover them, there is a higher risk of scarring because tummy tuck procedures require larger incisions. A traditional tummy tuck procedure, for example, can create scars extending from the right to left hip and around the belly button.

It’s important for patients to know that scars stemming from either procedure can be minimized with proper aftercare. Additionally, there are several effective scar removal treatments to minimize the appearance of scarring. These include steroid therapy, laser skin resurfacing, intense pulsed light therapy, and microneedling.

Procedure Cost

The cost of liposuction typically depends upon the size of the area(s) to be treated. A minor procedure could cost as little as $2,000, while treating several areas at once may cost up to $8,000. Liposuction in the abdominal area may include the lower belly below the navel, the waist and low back.

Tummy tuck surgery is not only more complex than liposuction, but also requires general anesthesia, which adds to the expense. Depending on the type of abdominoplasty technique used, the cost of tummy tuck surgery can range anywhere from $6,000 to $10,000.

The final cost of any plastic surgery procedure is determined by several variables, including the unique need of each patient and the surgical technique used. The only way to know exactly how much your procedure will cost is to get an in-person consultation, where a surgeon can assess your needs and create a treatment plan to achieve your desired end result.

Liposuction + Tummy Tuck

Patients with excess fat and sagging skin who are seeking dramatic results may actually benefit most from a combination of both tummy tuck and liposuction. Both procedures can also be done in conjunction with other popular plastic surgery treatments, like breast lift or breast augmentations, in what is often referred to as a “mommy makeover.” There are several advantages of doing multiple surgical procedures simultaneously, including reductions in procedure cost and recovery time.

Which Procedure Is Better for You?

While both liposuction and tummy tucks are excellent body contouring procedures, it’s extremely important to determine what specific issues must be corrected to determine the best course of treatment. If the problem is excess skin or loose abdominal muscles from excessive weight loss, a tummy tuck may be your best option. For individuals who just need to improve isolated areas liposuction is usually the best course of treatment.

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