Tummy Tuck Vs. Coolsculpting: Which Should You Choose?

At Thaxton Plastic Surgery, we offer a myriad of procedures designed to help you look and feel your best. If you want to improve the firmness and smoothness of your stomach, your options include surgical options such as a tummy tuck and non-invasive options such as CoolSculpting. But which option is the best fit for you? Let’s take a look at all of your options.

The Tummy Tuck

More formally known as an abdominoplasty, a tummy tuck is a surgical procedure where we make an incision in your lower abdomen with the goal of removing or tightening sagging or loose skin. We make the incision as low as possible so that any scarring can be hidden by a bikini bottom or underwear.

This procedure is typically recommended for patients at a healthy, stable weight that have excess skin and stubborn pockets of fat in the abdominal area that diet and exercise cannot fix. Tummy tucks also can be used to tighten loose abdominal muscles and even to minimize the appearance of stretch marks.

A tummy tuck is considered major surgery and all surgeries carry some level of risk, as well as a significant period of required rest after the procedure. Following the procedure, you should expect to experience some level of discomfort for several days or even a few weeks after the procedure, and you need to be able to care for the incision properly as well as wearing compression garments for several weeks.

Lifting heavy items and vigorous exercise also need to be avoided for up to six weeks after the procedure, and for the first few days after the procedure, you will need complete rest. If you are a smoker, you will need to stop smoking for at least six weeks to ensure proper healing.

With a tummy tuck surgery, the highest level of pain tends to subside after three or four days but can persist for a week or more. Once the pain subsides, you likely will experience tenderness around the incision site and swelling and redness may persist for several months. The scar will fade over time but will be very visible during those first few months.

While tummy tuck surgeries are invasive and come with a substantial recovery time, this can be the most effective way to remove excess skin and improve the look of your stomach and waist. The results are permanent, however, aging and weight fluctuations can impact the results.

If you are considering a tummy tuck, some patients also opt to add in breast augmentation or a breast lift or reduction. Combining these two procedures is often known as mommy makeover surgery and is a popular choice for women that are past their childbearing years.


Liposuction also is a surgical procedure, but it’s much less invasive than a tummy tuck. Liposuction can be a good option for patients with stubborn fat but without an excess of sagging skin. Liposuction can remove fat, but it cannot be used to tighten muscles, tighten skin or remove stretch marks.

While liposuction is less invasive than a tummy tuck, this procedure does still require general anesthesia and there is a significant recovery time. You will need to rest for about a week after the procedure, just as you would with a tummy tuck, and you need to forgo exercise for up to six weeks. Still, there does tend to be a bit less discomfort after this procedure compared with the tummy tuck. Liposuction also can be used to target other areas of the body such as the thighs, buttocks, hips and arms.


Of course, some patients don’t want a surgical procedure and, fortunately, these days we have some non-invasive options, including CoolSculpting. This option is ideal for anyone with stubborn areas of fat that won’t resolve even with consistent, targeted exercise.

With CoolSculpting, we can target many areas of the body including your abdomen, flank areas (i.e., “love handles”), outer and inner thighs, upper arms, buttocks and even the jawline and chin.

CoolSculpting utilizes a process known as cryolipolysis to freeze and destroy fat cells. First, we place special gel pads on the treatment area to protect your skin and then use a special device that freezes the fat cells.

It does take time for the body to eliminate these dead fat cells, so results are not immediate, and it can take up to six months for full results. Generally, patients undergo at least two CoolSculpting procedures to achieve the desired results.

CoolSculpting typically reduces areas of fat by about 20% to 25%, so while the results aren’t as dramatic as with a tummy tuck or liposuction, the procedure generally takes no more than three hours and you have a substantially faster recovery time. Typically, you can return to your normal activity the day after a CoolSculpting procedure, although some redness and swelling are common for a few days or weeks after the procedure.

Are The Results Permanent?

Although the results of all of these procedures are considered to be permanent, changes in body weight may impact the results. With any of these three procedures, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the best way to maintain long-term results. A nutritious, varied diet and regular exercise can ensure that you will enjoy a firmer, flatter abdominal area for many years.

Who Is A Good Candidate?

With all of these procedures, it’s important to note that these are not weight-loss procedures. Good candidates will be those who have maintained a desired, healthy weight for at least a year.

These procedures also are not recommended for anyone who may hope for future pregnancies or for women who are breastfeeding. We recommend that women wait for at least six months after stopping breastfeeding before considering any of these procedures, as the body continues to change for several months after childbirth and/or breastfeeding.

Additionally, surgical procedures may not be the best option for some patients. For instance, patients with suppressed immune systems may have more difficulty healing after major surgery. Be sure to discuss all of your health issues with your plastic surgeon as well as disclose all medications and supplements that you are taking.

Which Option Is Best?

In general, your desired results are the best indicator of which treatment is the best option. If you want to reduce sagging skin and significantly reduce fat, a tummy tuck is the best option.

If you have little to no sagging skin but want a more substantial fat reduction than with CoolSculpting, liposuction might be the best choice. For patients that wish to avoid surgery or for those that aren’t a good candidate for surgery, CoolSculpting may be your best option.

If you do have some sagging skin, but don’t wish to consider surgery, ThermiTight® can be an option to consider. While the results aren’t permanent, they do tend to last for several years, and the procedure is non-invasive with just a day or two of downtime.

With ThermiTight®, we use thermal (heat) energy to stimulate collagen production, which helps to tighten and firm up the skin. Generally, it takes take more than one ThermiTight® procedure to see the full results. As with CoolSculpting, ThermiTight® can be used on several areas of the body.

Book A Consultation Today

We know that choosing a procedure can be tricky, so give us a call and book a consultation with Dr. Thaxton today. He can discuss your options and decide whether you should opt for a tummy tuck, CoolSculpting or perhaps another option.