University of Virginia Plastic Surgery
1300 Jefferson Park Avenue 4th Floor
Charlottesville, VA 22908
Phone: (434) 924-1234
Location Hours: Monday–Friday | 8 a.m.–5 p.m.

CoolSculpting® vs. Liposuction vs. Tummy Tuck: Recovery Time & Results (Pictures)

Torso of a woman wearing black yoga pants standing in grass with toned abdomen exposed

Body contouring procedures are some of the most satisfying procedures to perform. As a plastic surgeon in the Richmond, VA area, I love helping patients feel comfortable and confident in their own skin. CoolSculpting®, tummy tuck, and liposuction procedures are popular because they are extremely effective. These treatments slim and sculpt targeted areas and reduce stubborn pockets of fat, reshaping the body.

If you struggle with curves and bulges that won’t go away, a body contouring treatment may be right for you. Still, choosing among the many available body contouring procedures can be a challenge. We’ll compare CoolSculpting vs. liposuction vs. tummy tuck surgery in this post, looking at recovery time and a few results pictures so you have a better idea of which might be the right procedure for you.


What it is: CoolSculpting is a nonsurgical body contouring treatment that reduces fat by freezing and destroying fat cells.

Recovery time: There is little to no recovery time required after CoolSculpting. Patients can return to their regular schedules immediately after treatment. Any temporary side effects, such as slight swelling or tenderness, are easily treated with over-the-counter medication.

Results: It can create a modest fat reduction in areas such as the abdomen, flanks, and thighs. CoolSculpting may require multiple treatment sessions, especially if addressing more than one problem spot. Results gradually develop over the course of a few weeks as the body naturally sheds the frozen fat cells.


What it is: Liposuction is a surgical procedure that uses a cannula to suction fat tissue out of the body.

Recovery time: Downtime after liposuction varies depending on the case. Usually, about 1 week is required for returning to work, and 4 to 6 weeks for returning to exercise.

Results: Because of the targeted nature of this procedure, it can create more dramatic contouring and fat reduction in multiple areas of the body. Typically only a single surgery is required to achieve strong results. Liposuction is also easily added to other body contouring surgeries to create a more dramatic effect.

Before & After Liposuction
Before & After Liposuction
Before & After Liposuction

Tummy Tuck

What it is: A tummy tuck is a surgical body contouring procedure that removes excess abdominal skin and tightens the underlying muscles.

Recovery time: Because a tummy tuck is a more extensive surgery, it requires around 1 to 3 weeks of recovery before patients can return to work. Vigorous exercise, such as running or weight lifting, should be postponed until 4 to 6 weeks after the procedure.

Results: This surgery results in a flatter, firmer abdomen and a more defined waist. Tummy tuck surgery is a good choice for patients who struggle with excess lower belly tissue that won’t go away with diet or exercise. A single operation can noticeably transform both the profile and silhouette of your stomach, hips, and flanks.

Before & After Tummy Tuck Surgery
Before & After Tummy Tuck Surgery

Sculpting Your Body

Choosing the right body contouring procedure isn’t always easy. Each of these treatments can sculpt the body and create flattering, satisfying results. By knowing more about each option ahead of time, you and your doctor can decide which choice is best for your personal aesthetic goals.

Browse our CoolSculpting, liposuction, and tummy tuck before-and-after photos to see examples of real patient results.

If you would like to learn more about cosmetic surgery in the greater Richmond area, request a consultation online or call us at (434) 924-1234.

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