Tummy Tuck or Liposuction?

Tummy tuck and liposuction are two surgical procedures to help patients achieve a slimmer, more toned abdomen. Patients who choose either procedure walk away with a renewed boost in their self-image and self-confidence. However, because both surgeries treat different cosmetic concerns, one surgery might be better suited to achieving your aesthetic goals. While it can be difficult to decide which is right for you, Dr. Gregory Fedele has helped thousands of patients navigate this path toward their ideal physique. As a board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Fedele has the skills and knowledge necessary to flatten your tummy and restore confidence in your appearance. If you would like to see which procedure is best for you, please schedule a personal consultation at Dr. Fedele’s Cleveland offices or call our friendly front desk staff at (216) 464-1616!

Before and After Photos

What Is Liposuction?

Liposuction is a surgical procedure to gently remove fat cells from their connective tissues through a cannula. A cannula is a slender tube that uses suction-assisted power to aspirate fat cells from the body. In 2020, liposuction was the fourth most popular cosmetic surgery in the country.[1] Because fat cells are separated by membranous septae consisting of blood vessels, nerves, and lymphatic vessels, safely extracting only the fat cells has been historically difficult. In the past, the traditional approach, called “dry liposuction,” often led to critical blood loss and other serious complications.[2] However, unlike this traditional liposculpture approach, Dr. Fedele utilizes tumescent fluid during his procedures. Tumescent fluid is a mixture of saline, lidocaine and epinephrine. This combination of numbing agents can decrease bleeding and prolong the desensitizing effects of the fluid. When tumescent fluid comes into contact with fat cells, the fat lobules swell while the connective tissue and blood vessels contract. This allows for easier extraction of fat cells and fewer complications during the surgery. 


liposuction cleveland

Typically, liposuction is an outpatient procedure and is performed under general anesthesia. The cannula Dr. Fedele uses is so small that no large incision will be made, resulting in no long-term scarring. After treating the fat cells with the tumescent fluid, he will run the suction-powered cannula through the fat lobules, extracting the precise amount of fat particles from the desired area(s). This back and forth motion will also damage fat cells that will eventually reabsorb slowly into the body. 

Recovery & Results

After Dr. Fedele has suctioned away all the desired fat, he will wrap the treated area(s) in a compression garment and allow you some time to rest before releasing you from his care. The area(s) will be swollen and tender for the next couple of days or weeks, but you may notice a slimmer, more toned appearance right after your procedure. Recovery from liposuction is not as involved as other procedures, and you can expect to be back on your feet in a week or two. The treated area(s) will continue to improve in appearance for the next 6-12 weeks as the damaged fat cells absorb into the body.[2]

Who Is Liposuction For?

Liposuction is perfect for patients who have stubborn abdominal fat that is resistant to diet and exercise. Adipose (fat) tissue is essential to our body’s metabolic and physiological health as the body harbors energy in these cells. When we’re in a fasted state, our body burns these cells for energy. A healthy amount of fat is needed to maintain proper body function. Weight loss methods such as dieting for caloric deficit and exercise cause the body to shed fat to maintain a healthy physique. But, a certain type of fat isn’t responsive to these traditional fat loss methods. Subcutaneous fat is the layer of tissue that resides just under the skin – over the top of the muscles. This blanket of fat cells is uninfluenced by diet and exercise because the body uses it to block against subdermal infection, prevent heat loss, and serve as a protective cushion against external stressors.[3] So, this type of fat lingers after a weight loss journey. Diet and exercise only decrease the size of fat cells, not the number of fat cells.[2] So, liposuction is used to reduce the number of fat cells altogether. 

What Is A Tummy Tuck?

A tummy tuck, also known as abdominoplasty, is a surgical procedure to tighten abdominal skin and repair any muscles that may have separated to allow a developing fetus to grow. The procedure is commonly used for people at the end of a massive weight loss journey or after their final pregnancy. 


tummy tuck cleveland

Like liposuction, a tummy tuck is an outpatient procedure performed under general anesthesia. Dr. Fedele begins by carefully making an incision at the base of the bikini line. From here, he will have access to the abdominal muscles and any underlying fat cells that might also need to be liposuctioned away. If the abdominal muscles have separated during pregnancy, he will suture them back to their original position. Next, Dr. Fedele will undermine any excess fat tissue from the area before excising the navel. The patient’s navel will be repositioned after the skin has been pulled taut. Once the skin is tight, he will excise the overlapping skin and create a new hole for the belly button. After ensuring the abdominal area is tighter and flatter, he will suture the base incision closed before wrapping it with a compression garment. 

Recovery & Results

Recovery from a tummy tuck is a little more involved than liposuction. The procedure is more extensive and may require more anesthesia. So, initial recovery from the sedation might take a day or two. The abdomen will be tender and sore. It is important to only take the prescribed pain medication as other pain medicines like aspirin, ibuprofen, and Tylenol thin the blood and hamper the body’s inflammatory, healing response. During this time, it is vital to avoid any strenuous activities for the next couple of weeks. The abdomen will also have a drain attached to keep fluids from building up around the surgical site. We will remove this drain at your follow-up appointment. In all, recovery from a tummy tuck is longer and more extensive compared to liposuction. 

Who Is Tummy Tuck For?

A tummy tuck is ideal for any patients who experience:

Skin Laxity

When fat cells increase in number and size, they stretch the overlying skin. When the skin stretches and stays past a certain point, no amount of fat-burning or muscle toning can return the area to its former appearance. [4] This loose, excess skin can be difficult for patients who have experienced extreme weight loss and yet have superfluous skin veiling their hard-earned muscles. With a tummy tuck, patients can see this loose, excess skin tightened while their abdomen is better contoured and defined. 

Diastasis Recti

Common in women during their third trimester, the two vertical walls of abdominal muscles can separate from each other. After childbirth, these separated muscles create a flaccid bulge that sticks out from their abdomen. This condition is caused by diastasis recti and cannot be corrected through diet and exercise. For some new mothers, the abdominal muscles heal on their own, and the bulge subsides over time. For others, however, the condition lingers and can cause adverse effects such as urinary incontinence and weak pelvic floor muscles. [5] During a tummy tuck, Dr. Fedele can repair these separated muscles with sutures to help rebuild their core strength and diminish any bulging tissue. 

Which One Is Right For Me?

Deciding which procedure is right for you is dependent on how much loose skin you have around your abdomen. If patients have adequate skin elasticity around their midsection, then a simple liposuction procedure is most likely the best approach. However, if you have loose excess skin, some extra fat tissue, and/or separated abdominal muscles, then a tummy tuck is most likely the ideal fit. Each procedure has its own recovery timetable, so patients will need to discuss their options with Dr. Fedele. He will then discern which one is the right fit during a personal consultation To schedule your consultation, please contact us at our Cleveland offices.

How Much Do Tummy Tuck And Liposuction Procedures Cost in Cleveland?

Both procedures are highly personalized and will vary in price from patient to patient. We will determine your unique price during your consultation. If you would like to learn about our financing options, please feel free to call our front desk at (216) 464-1616.


What is the difference between a tummy tuck and liposuction?

A tummy tuck is used to treat loose, excess skin, while liposuction is used to sculpt away unwanted fat cells from around your body. Deciding between the two, a prospective patient needs to visit a board-certified plastic surgeon to examine their skin’s laxity as well as to see if any abdominal muscles have separated. 


  1. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. (2020). American Society of Plastic Surgeons. https://www.plasticsurgery.org/news/plastic-surgery-statistics
  2. Venkataram, J. (2008). Tumescent liposuction: A review. Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery, 1(2), 49. https://doi.org/10.4103/0974-2077.44159
  3. Kwok, K., Lam, K. & Xu, A. Heterogeneity of white adipose tissue: molecular basis and clinical implications. Exp Mol Med 48, e215 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/emm.2016.5
  4. Chait, A., & den Hartigh, L. J. (2020). Adipose Tissue Distribution, Inflammation and Its Metabolic Consequences, Including Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease. Frontiers in cardiovascular medicine, 7, 22. https://doi.org/10.3389/fcvm.2020.00022
  5. Benjamin, D. R., van de Water, A. T., & Peiris, C. L. (2014). Effects of exercise on diastasis of the rectus abdominis muscle in the antenatal and postnatal periods: a systematic review. Physiotherapy, 100(1), 1–8. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.physio.2013.08.005
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