Tummy Tuck or Liposuction?

We often have patients at our Layton, Utah office who don’t quite understand the difference between a tummy tuck and liposuction with Dr. Jensen. While they can involve the same target area, the abdomen, they are completely different procedures and really are right for different conditions.

Here’s the difference between these two popular body-contouring procedures.


Liposuction is a procedure intended to remove pockets of stubborn fat that are resistant to changes in diet or exercise. The procedure performed today is far different than the original procedure that was developed in France and debuted in the U.S. in the 1980s. That original procedure was quite traumatic on the tissues and created extensive bruising that could last for a few months before it fully cleared. That’s because the cannulas used to suction out unwanted fat were larger and had to be moved about aggressively under the skin to break up and remove the unwanted fat. This caused bleeding and bruising under the skin.

Dr. Jensen uses laser liposuction today. It involves first inserting a laser fiber to deliver laser energy to the target areas. This dissolves the fat, making it both easier to suction away and for the body to dispose of any remaining liquefied fat. Also, the laser energy has the added benefit of tightening the skin over the treated areas by encouraging the production of new amounts of collagen and elastin. The incisions made to insert the laser fiber and cannula are quite small, usually only requiring a bandage to close.

Liposuction is a great procedure if the patient has pockets of unwanted fat on the abdomen, thighs, upper arms, and even under the chin. It’s important that the patient doesn’t have sagging skin, and that the skin is still very elastic. This is necessary for the skin to tighten down to the slimmer contour once the fat is removed.

Tummy tuck

Tummy tucks are intended to remove loose, sagging skin and fat in the abdomen. These procedures involve a lengthy incision stretching from hipbone to hipbone and often a second smaller incision around the belly button to address sagging above the navel. The skin is then separated from the muscle beneath, and any muscles that may have become separated by the localized weight gain from pregnancy are brought back to the center and stitched back into place. This narrows the waist and returns muscle strength to the center of the stomach area. Next, Dr. Jensen pulls the skin downward and trims away any excess skin before closing the incision. The navel is usually moved upward due to the skin that was pulled downward.

Tummy tucks are really about removing loose skin. They are great procedures for women who have had children, as the localized weight gain and loss of pregnancy often stretches the stomach skin to the degree it cannot tighten back down to the same degree of firmness that existed before pregnancy. They can also be great for patients who have gained and then lost a large amount of weight and are left with sagging stomach skin. Dr. Jensen often uses a small amount of liposuction with his tummy tuck procedures to remove pockets of unwanted fat.

Interested in slimming your contours with a tummy tuck or liposuction? Please give us a call at (801) 728-9258 to schedule a consultation.

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