March 2024

How To Tell If You Need Lipo
Or A Tummy Tuck

Extra pounds and loose skin can have us reeling when it comes to looking and feeling our best. In my practice, we'll often have women who are sitting on the fence, deliberating between liposuction or a tummy tuck. It's very common to deliberate about which procedure will give you the biggest bang for your buck. Let's explore the differences so you can decide what will make you look and feel the most confident!

How To Tell What You Need

Here are key considerations to help you differentiate between liposuction and a tummy tuck:

Liposuction Body Contouring

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Concerns Addressed

Liposuction is primarily designed to remove excess fat deposits from specific areas where there is localized fat accumulation. Patients who have a normal body mass index (BMI) and who have not yet had a pregnancy are generally better suited for liposuction.

Skin Elasticity

Liposuction is most effective when there is good skin elasticity. It is not intended to address significant skin laxity.

Muscle Tone

Liposuction does not address muscle separation or weakness in the abdominal wall.

Procedure Details

Small incisions are made, and a thin tube (cannula) is used to suction out excess fat.


Recovery is typically shorter than a tummy tuck, with less post-op discomfort.

Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty)

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Concerns Addressed

A tummy tuck is suitable for women with excess skin, muscle laxity (diastasis recti), and localized fat deposits in the abdominal area. Women who have experienced the body changes that come with pregnancy and those who have had significant weight loss are generally better suited for a tummy tuck.

Skin Elasticity

Tummy tucks are particularly effective for women who have loose or sagging skin, often resulting from factors like pregnancy, significant weight loss, or skin tone changes that naturally partner with aging.

Muscle Tone

Tummy tucks can address muscle separation (diastasis recti) and tighten the abdominal muscles to enhance overall muscle tone.

Procedure Details

In a tummy tuck, Dr. Burns will remove excess skin, re-tighten the abdominal muscles, and reposition the belly button. Liposuction may be performed in conjunction with a tummy tuck to refine contours and eliminate pockets of fat.


Recovery time is generally longer than liposuction, and there may be more postoperative discomfort. Patients are also instructed to follow graduated clearance to transition back to normal activities and working out.

Taking A Combined Approach: Tummy Tuck and Liposuction

In some cases, a combination of liposuction and a tummy tuck may be recommended to address both excess fat and skin laxity comprehensively. Dr. Burns almost always utilizes liposuction as part of his tummy tucks.

Read More: Lipoabdominoplasty

Liposuction Before and After by Dr. John Burns MD in Dallas, Texas

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How Are The Procedures Performed?

How Dr. Burns Does Tummy Tucks

Dr. Burns addresses abdominal rejuvenation with his specialized tummy tuck technique. In his procedure, he will address the vectors, or directions, of muscle tightening so that you've got flattened abs and cinched-in obliques. Whether you need a mini tummy tuck, full, or even extended tummy tuck, Dr. Burns applies his corset technique to ensure you get the flattest, most contoured outcome possible.

Below are some general details about getting tummy tuck surgery. You can also make a deeper dive into each type of tummy tuck by visiting the links below.

Mini Tummy Tuck   |   Full Tummy Tuck   |   Extended Tummy Tuck    |   Corset Technique

Anesthesia For Your Case

The procedure is performed under general anesthesia using an all-female board-certified anesthesia team to ensure you're comfortable before and during your procedure.

Incision Placement

For traditional or full tummy tuck, the incision is made above the pubic hairline, extending from hip to hip.For tiny or mini tummy tucks, a shorter incision is made within the hip bones. For women with c-section scars, Dr. Burns can typically remove the scar while lowering the mini scar to minimize its visibility.

Removal of Excess Skin & Fat

In your tummy tuck, Dr. Burns will lift the skin, repair and tighten the abdominal muscles, and then remove the excess skin on top of the ab muscles and hips. Liposuction is also performed to sculpt the waist giving a 3D circumferential result.

Repositioning of The Belly Button

In a full tummy tuck, Dr.Burns will reposition the belly button to match your new figure. 

Closure of Incisions

Once complete, Dr. Burns will close your incision line with sutures and place drains to prevent fluid retention and maximize patient comfort post-surgery.

Dressings & Compression Garments

Dressings like bandaids are applied and reinforced with gauze. You will be dressed in a post-op compression garment that will provide support, reduce swelling, and aid in the healing process.

Recovery and Postoperative Care

Our patients are monitored by our team of registered nurses in the recovery area of our surgery center before being released to go home. Postoperative care instructions, including limitations on physical activity and proper incision care, are provided.

The recovery time varies depending on the extent of the surgery and individual healing factors. Patients are typically advised to avoid strenuous activities during the initial recovery period and gradually resume normal activities as guided by their surgeon. More details are reviewed in your complimentary consultation and pre-op appointment with our clinic nurse and Dr. Burns.

Liposuction by Dr. John Burns

In Dr. Burns' practice, he performs both traditional and ultrasound-assisted liposuction more commonly known as VASER®.


Liposuction is performed in an operating room under general anesthesia by board-certified anesthesiologists.

Lipo Incisions

Tiny incisions, typically 1-2 millimeters, are made in inconspicuous locations near the areas to be treated. The incisions serve as entry points for the insertion of a thin tube called a cannula.

Tumescent Fluid

A tumescent solution containing a local anesthetic is injected into the targeted fat deposits to minimize discomfort, reduce bleeding, and facilitate the fat removal process.

About VASER® Liposuction

Dr Burns often uses VASER ultrasound liposuction as an adjunct to his liposuction procedure. The VASER uses ultrasound energy to melt the fat, making your result smoother and more even. VASER® causes less bruising and swelling making the recovery even easier. The heat produced from the ultrasound lipo creates a firming effect on the skin. If desired, Dr. Burns also uses the VASER to highlight or etch the abdominal muscles for better definition.

Contouring & Sculpting

Dr. Burns custom-sculpts and contours the areas of concern to achieve the desired aesthetic outcome. Liposuction is not a weight loss procedure but a body contouring technique.

Closure of Incisions

After the fat removal is complete, the small incisions are closed with sutures and covered with dressings like bandaids.

Recovery and Postoperative Care

Patients are monitored in the recovery area before being released to go home. Postoperative care instructions, including wearing compression garments to minimize swelling, are provided.

It's important to remember that liposuction is most effective for localized fat deposits and is not a substitute for a healthy lifestyle or weight loss. Additionally, the success of liposuction depends on factors such as skin elasticity and the patient's overall anatomy.

What Can I Expect?

Tummy Tuck

A tummy tuck will give a far superior result for those with excess skin, loose skin, muscle diastasis, stretch marks, or heavier patients. The incision is initially visible but matures over time to become a fine white line in the lower abdomen which is easily covered with a swimsuit bottom or underwear. Dr. Burns’ is widely known for using a “bikini” incision which hides very well in minimal clothing. The liposuction part of a tummy tuck helps to shape the abdomen giving a “snatched” waist and hourglass appearance.


Initially, you'll be swollen after liposuction. Compression garments are worn to help shape the waist and press the skin smooth. Most of the swelling resolves over the first several weeks with the final result being evident in 6 months.

How Long Do The Results Last?

Both a tummy tuck and liposuction give permanent results. Once the skin and fat are removed, the waist and abdomen will always appear thinner unless you gain weight. Maintenance of the result is critical for long-lasting results. We recommend you maintain your goal weight after your procedure with diet and exercise. A good barometer is BMI or Body Mass Index which averages a patient’s height and weight. Patients who maintain a normal BMI have the best outcomes.

Which Surgery Takes Longer?

Generally, a tummy tuck takes between 2 and 3 hours, while liposuction takes about 1 to 2 hours on average. The tummy tuck involves more invasive incisions, muscle tightening, and suturing whereas liposuction is much less invasive thus requiring less time.

What Will My Recovery Look Like?

Tummy Tuck

It's important to note that not all tummy tucks are the same, and this has a direct impact on the length of recovery time required. A mini tummy tuck, which targets only the lower abdomen, typically has a quicker recovery time compared to a full tummy tuck which involves more extensive tissue removal and muscle tightening.

Ultimately, Dr. Burns works closely with each patient to ensure they have realistic expectations about their recovery process and provides customized care throughout every step of their journey toward achieving their desired results.

Initial Recovery

After undergoing a tummy tuck, it is crucial to have ongoing help at home to assist with daily tasks as you recover. With limited mobility and the inability to bend or lift heavy objects, having someone there to help with even the simplest of tasks can make a big difference in your recovery process. This could include things like  getting out of bed, preparing meals, or even just reaching for something on a high shelf.

If you have young children, it is especially important to have someone else take over lifting and carrying duties during your initial recovery period. Squatting or picking up a child could put unnecessary strain on your newly tightened abdominal muscles and delay healing. It's best to have a reliable helper who can step in and handle all of the physically demanding tasks while you focus on resting and allowing your body time to heal properly. By enlisting ongoing help at home, you can ensure that you have the support you need to make a full and successful recovery from your tummy tuck procedure.

Resuming Activities

After undergoing a tummy tuck, it's important to listen to your body and follow our post-op guidelines for recovery. While some aspects of your routine can be resumed fairly quickly, such as driving and light household chores, others may require more time off. If you have a physically demanding job or are an avid gym-goer, it's crucial to give yourself ample time to heal before jumping back into these activities. Pushing yourself too soon can not only prolong your recovery but also increase the risk of complications.

It's also essential to avoid certain lifestyle habits that can hinder your healing process. Smoking and drinking excess alcohol should be avoided for at least three months after surgery, as they can impair circulation and slow down the body's ability to heal.

Tummy Tuck Before and After by Dr. John Burns MD in Dallas, Texas

Tummy Tuck Before and After- Dr. John Burns in Dallas, Texas
Tummy Tuck Before and After- Dr. John Burns in Dallas, Texas
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Tummy Tuck with LIpo-Before and After- Dr. John Burns


During the initial period after surgery, you will likely experience soreness and discomfort due to the trauma your body has undergone. You may also feel residual effects of anesthesia or pain medication, which can impair your ability to operate a vehicle safely. For this reason, it is important to have someone available to drive you home when you are cleared to leave the hospital or surgical center. Taking care of yourself during this time is crucial for a successful recovery, so be sure to follow your doctor's instructions regarding activity restrictions, pain management, and follow-up appointments. With proper care and attention during this initial recovery phase, you can expect to gradually regain your strength.

As you reach the one-month mark post-surgery, it is common for patients to experience decreased soreness. While you may still notice some swelling during this time, it is important to remember that this is a normal part of the healing process. Swelling can persist for several months before completely subsiding, so patience is key. However, around weeks 3-5, you will likely begin to see visible results from your procedure as the swelling starts to diminish.

By the sixth week and beyond, you will be able to fully assess the results of your liposuction surgery. As the swelling continues to diminish and your body adjusts to its new contours, you may notice a significant improvement in shape and definition in treated areas. It is common for patients at this stage to feel more confident and satisfied with their appearance as they begin to see the outcomes of their procedure. Keep in mind that maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine will help optimize and prolong your liposuction results over time.  

Schedule Your Complimentary Consult To Know For Sure

Whether you're looking to eliminate stubborn fat deposits, tighten loose skin, or create a more defined muscle tone, it's important to choose a treatment that aligns with your specific needs and desires. Do your research, research so you can make a confident decision about your choice of plastic surgeon.

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Dr. John Burns in Dallas, TX, employs both artistry and skill in using advanced techniques that go beyond mere surgery – we specialize in creating results that are natural yet transforming.

Our team is curated to provide you with passionate and compassionate care throughout your journey. We are your advocates for a beautiful outcome that you will enjoy for years. Click the button below to get started with Dr. Burns and his team.

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