Tummy Tuck vs. Body Lift

After losing weight or having a baby, you may notice unwanted excess skin around your abdomen and flanks. While diet and exercise can help reduce it up to a point, nothing can create a flat stomach and slimmer midsection like a tummy tuck or total body lift surgery. For many people, the flap of extra skin and fat cells won’t reduce without the intervention of a procedure.

While results may seem similar with either a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) or full body lift surgery (also known as a mommy makeover), they vary in many ways. Let’s go over the differences, and why you might experience one instead of the other, so you’re ready for your consultation at El Paso Plastic Surgery.

What’s the Difference Between Tummy Tuck and Body Lift Surgeries?

Both of these body contouring procedures are ways we can sculpt your body, but they vary in the target location of the surgery. A tummy tuck is where we remove excess belly skin and reshape your abdomen area only. A body lift is a more intense version that also takes care of your back and sides, offering a significant overhaul of the center of your physique.

When health and fitness changes don’t fully retighten the skin or the muscles to your desired shape, or after a dramatic weight loss, such as 100 pounds or more, overstretched skin may remain surplus even after most of your abdominal fat is gone. And after childbirth, a woman’s body may not return to its pre-pregnancy shape, even after much effort.

Let’s discuss the main differences between your two body-shaping plastic surgery options.

What’s a Tummy Tuck?

Tummy tucks are a surgical procedure to remove surplus skin, dramatically reducing the appearance of a protruding abdomen that remains after weight reduction. It may be combined with liposuction for a more dramatic reduction and deeper body sculpting and contouring.

When performed by a board-certified plastic surgeon, like our doctors here at El Paso Plastic Surgery, it typically requires only about three weeks of downtime. Depending on your needs, there are several styles of tummy tucks that vary in procedure and results, including:

Mini tummy tuck – focusing only on your lower belly
Full (traditional) tummy tuck – taking care of the entire abdominal area
Fleur-de-lis tummy tuck – removing large amounts of skin from your entire abdomen (best for massive weight loss patients)

How Is a Tummy Tuck Surgery Performed?

The first incision during your tummy tuck surgery starts on the lower section of your abdomen. The second incision is made around your belly button to take care of your upper area.

Your surgeon will separate the top layer of your belly tissue and subcutaneous fat to reach abdominal tissues. This is when excess tissue is removed, including optional liposuction, which aids in deeper fat removal. If we find that your stomach muscles are separated, they’ll be rejoined and tightened at this time.

The remaining tissues are tightly smoothed over your new abdominal contours to finalize the surgery. Your existing belly button is maneuvered into position, and all incisions are sutured up. Your abdominal area is wrapped with compression bandages, and drains are also placed before you awake for recovery.

Possible Medical Benefits of a Tummy Tuck

There are some reported side benefits from receiving an abdominoplasty. Patients with stress urinary incontinence can benefit from removing the pressure caused by excess tissue. It can also help to improve your posture, which relieves back pain that results from hunching.

What’s a Full Body Lift?

A full body lift shapes, tones and trims both the front and back sides of your entire midsection. This helps remove excess skin, fat and cellulite to achieve an even slimmer and more contoured body shape. Body lifts are more intense since more skin is being removed and more incisions are needed in more places.

Excess tissue can be removed to tighten and tone the following areas:

  • Abdomen
  • Flanks
  • Back
  • Buttocks
  • Thighs

How Is a Full Body Lift Surgery Performed?

Dr. Jabor, Dr. Reynolds, or Dr. Aburto will begin your body lift surgery with an incision around the full circumference of your midsection that extends horizontally along the lower back, around your hips, and across the pubic hairline around your front side. Drooping skin and excess tissue are removed from your back and hips, and the remaining skin and tissues are tightened to lift your butt and smooth your back. Then a tummy tuck is performed as described above.

Finally, if needed, your thighs are next. An incision above the thighs is created to remove unwanted tissue and lift the thighs from the back. Significant loose thigh tissue may need a separate thigh lift surgery once healed from your body lift procedure.

You’re now wrapped for recovery with drains and compression bandages.

Who Is a Candidate for a Full Body Lift?

The best candidates for a body lift should have their lower weight held stable for three months or longer. If weight loss results from bariatric surgery, a one-year waiting period is recommended before a body lift. If you’re thinking of having a body lift, be sure to have a dedication to maintaining your healthy weight to avoid the complications of stretching your skin all over again.

Should You Get a Tummy Tuck or Body Lift Surgery?

The decision of which surgery to choose isn’t yours alone to make. After a detailed assessment, we will create a plan that’s personalized to your exact situation from where you are now and how you want to look.

Get The Body You Want with Body Contouring Surgery in El Paso

Start with your consultation at the Cosmetic Surgery and Laser Centers of El Paso, where one of our expert plastic surgeons, Dr. Jabor, Dr. Reynolds or Dr. Aburto, will meet with you to help determine what’s best.

They can also help you understand other treatments that might make sense, including different body sculpting techniques or surgeries that you can combine with your surgery, such as liposuction or augmentations of your breasts or buttocks.

Call 915-543-5600 or contact us for your appointment to have your questions answered and see the state-of-the-art simulation we’ll use to map out a plan of action just for you. We can’t wait to see you!


CareCredit® and Prosper are both options for financing your healthcare services. El Paso Plastic Surgery accepts both! Please visit the company websites to learn more.

Request A Consultation

Schedule your personalized consultation for any of our cosmetic surgery procedures.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.