David B. Reath, MD
Knoxville, TN (865) 450-9253
HKB Knoxville Staff

CoolSculpting vs. Liposuction vs. Tummy Tuck: Here’s the Skinny

 Dr. Reath’s Patient Care Coordinator weighs the benefits of CoolSculpting, Liposuction, and Tummy Tucks. All of these body contouring procedures are very effective, so it’s good to have some insider advice. Here’s how to figure out which of the three is right for you. 

Learn about 3 options for fat reduction, including CoolSculpting, in Knoxville.

With so many options out there, it can be tough to figure out which body contouring procedure may be best for you. Should you opt for liposuction, or would a tummy tuck work best? Or should you try CoolSculpting first? Our Knoxville team is here to point you in the right direction while maximizing your time and budget. Let’s start by considering these three things.

YOUR TIME FRAME – If you are trying to decide between CoolSculpting and liposuction, are you looking for a single, intensive treatment with more immediate results and are OK with some downtime for recovery OR.. would you rather have several smaller non- invasive treatments that require no downtime with results in 3-4 months? Hmmmmm.

YOUR BUDGET- For some of us, budget is a significant concern. Are you more comfortable paying in smaller amounts –i.e., per Coolsculpting treatment rather than a Coolsculpting package or liposuction surgical fees? Good question.

YOUR ANATOMY- Muy importante! — Not everyone is a candidate for every procedure, and each of these procedures treats different issues. However, none of these treatments are weight-loss procedures. Most patients come to us after they have lost the weight to help contour small, stubborn areas or remove leftover skin. Speaking of skin—If you have loose or excess skin of the abdomen, unfortunately, it is not likely that Coolsculpting or liposuction will give you great results – you may need a tummy tuck (also known as a Lipoabdominoplasty) instead. Have no fear. We’ve got you covered, read on….

So let’s apply this to some real-life situations:

Patient Number 1: Some patients have a small fatty “roll” that they wish to address (either tummy, hip rolls, upper back, or inner thighs). This area is “pinchable” but without very loose (no hanging skin) – they may have a smaller budget and NO time off for recovery. This situation is perfect for CoolSculpting!  Treatment of 1 area with Coolsculpting runs around $1,400 and takes as little as 1 hour in the office with NO downtime.  Larger and multiple areas may require additional treatments, and we offer packages to make this more affordable.  You will begin to see results within 4-5 weeks.  Full results reduce the area treated by 20-25% and are experienced around four months out.  Here are some photos of patients who have had CoolSculpting done in our office.

Bonus: Since Coolsculpting is a non-invasive procedure with no anesthesia required, patients with health issues that make them poor candidates for surgery often CAN have this treatment.

Patient Number 2: Let’s say that the area you wish to treat is a little larger, or you would rather do it all at once, and your personal or work schedule will allow you to take roughly 5-7 days of downtime. Liposuction may well be a better option (provided the skin is still pretty tight, and you don’t have too much laxity). Depending upon the size and number of areas, your liposuction procedure will run anywhere from $3200 – $6700 and require only one surgery/treatment. Results are immediate but will be most visible after the initial swelling subsides; roughly, 4-6 weeks. Here are before and after photos of some of our liposuction patients.

But what if you do have excess or loose skin?.…Well then, you may need a Lipoabdominoplasty (tummy tuck). You see – if you were to simply remove fatty tissue from a patient who has excess skin, the leftover, wrinkly, hanging skin would make things look worse than before. Although this is the most “invasive” of the three procedures, it is also the most transforming.

Patient Number 3: You have excess skin and separation in the abdominal muscles that no amount of crunches can fix. You are the perfect candidate for a tummy tuck. A tummy tuck targets all three factors that create the rolls you can’t get rid of and the hanging/wrinkly skin. During a tummy tuck, Dr. Reath repairs any muscles that may have separated (muscle separation often occurs during pregnancy), uses liposuction to take away stubborn fatty pockets, and removes excess skin to finish smoothing and tightening the entire abdomen. The fee for this procedure generally runs about $7600, and most folks need 2-3 weeks off from work for recovery.  Although results are also immediate, due to post-operative swelling and recovery, you can expect to wait about six weeks before you are bathing-suit ready. Here are pictures of our patients who have had tummy tucks. You may also be interested in pictures of our patients who have had Mommy Makeovers, tummy tuck, and breast surgery at the same time. You’ll see what I mean by the “most transforming.”

Beware of Clinics With Only One Choice
The bottom line (pun) is that there is no single treatment for everybody! From time to time, you may see a spa or clinic that has one new machine that is supposed to treat all your problems. However, it’s easy to see that that someone is trying to make the patient fit the machine, instead of the other way around. Dr. Reath calls these “one-hit wonders.” He explains more in his blog One-Hit-Wonder Plastic Surgery Procedures Miss The Beat.

One-Hit-Wonder Plastic Surgery Procedures Miss The Beat

Anyone who has been listening to pop music for a while can come up with a list of one-hit-wonders. You know, a band that came out with one great song and then everything else fizzled. I can remember “Vehicle” by the Ides of March from 1970. Cool name. Too bad they didn’t do much else. … Read more »

Having a variety of modalities and options to treat each patient individually is something unique to board-certified and board-eligible plastic surgeons. These are the doctors dedicated to offering choices between the safest and most effective treatments, which ultimately saves you both time and money.

The new 40-page eBook A Very Cool Guide To Coolsculpting is a must-read. It’s a free download.


Download CoolSculpting eBook

36 Responses to CoolSculpting vs. Liposuction vs. Tummy Tuck: Here’s the Skinny

  • David B. Reath, MD says:


    What you have is something called gynecomastia. There are some cases in which Coolsculpting can be of help in improving this. Other time, it will require surgery.
    All the best,
    David B.

  • Shania says:

    I had an emergency c section and now my lower abdomen is huge and while it has gone down it along with my back rolls really pulls my confidence down.
    How long after c section do you recommend I wait?

  • David B. Reath, MD says:

    Thanks for your email. There is not specific time you need to wait, but a few considerations. The most important is your weight. You want to get back to your pre-pregnancy weight or close to it before you go ahead with a tummy Tuck. Also you should not have a tummy tuck if you are planning to have more children.
    All the best,
    David B.

  • David B. Reath, MD says:

    Dear Tara,
    The best operation for the jawline and neck is a facelift. This rejuvenates the lower face and neck.
    All the best,
    David B.

  • Liturname says:

    Hi.. I am 43 year old man and I am a software engineer by profession. I put on weight due to my unhealthy food habits and lifestyle. My BMI is 28 and this is worrying me a lot and I was made to become a laughing stock in front of my friends and family. I have done a liposuction in a clinic in Toronto. Dr. Sammy Sliwin was my surgeon. Now I have regained my confidence. First I was worried to go under knife but now I feel my decision to go for liposuction was right. Hope my experience would help people who are facing the problems which I faced earlier

  • Dearika says:

    I had two c sections and I have some belly fat in mylower abdomen and love handles and back rolls is coolsculpting my best option spring break is arriving shortly…

  • David B. Reath, MD says:

    Dear Dearika,
    Thank you for your comment. Without seeing you I cannot comment on what might be the best option for you. However, the majority of women who have had children have changes that cannot not be treated with fat reduction alone. Most need some form of a tummy tuck to remove the excess skin.
    All the best,
    David B. Reath, MD

  • Mom says:

    If I did cool sculpt to my inner thighs – does it leave loose skin after proper healing time or does the skin tighten?

  • Howard Reed says:

    Thanks for the tip about being careful of clinics with only one choice. My wife has been wanting to get a tummy tuck, and had been looking at some different options. I will have to make sure to mention this and hopefully we will be able to find some in the area that can help.

  • David B. Reath, MD says:

    Good question. CoolSculpting can be done on the inner thighs in some people. This is a bit more of a challenging area. However it will not tighten the skin. There is really no affect on the skin.
    Sincerely yours,
    David B. Reath, MD

  • Chinmayi says:

    Your article was really good, the way you explained was very close to me. I found tummy tuck surgery is combined with liposuction in fat removal process to give firmer and smoother appearance to abdomen. Is it..?

  • David B. Reath, MD says:

    Thanks for your comments. For the right people, the lipoabdominoplasty does give the best results in terms of a flat, smooth abdomen.
    All the best,
    David B. Reath, MD

  • Arlene says:

    Hi, I am pregnant now with my #2 child. No more kids for me after this. However,I want to get back to my pre baby weight ASAP. I was 115lbs before pregnancy and 5’5″ . What would be the best method for me? my skin was not lose nor did I have any problem area after my 1st kid. I lost all the weight and toned up but took me about 6 months.

  • David B. Reath, MD says:

    Dear Arlene,
    Thanks for you email. I do not have any specifics that I would recommend for you to get back to you pre-baby weight. However, the good news is that you did this before. So I would recommend that you did what you did before.
    Good luck with your pregnancy.
    All the best,
    David B.

  • JoAnn says:

    Hi, I’m a 43 year old lady in fairly good shape. I eat healthy and exercise regularly. However, I have a trouble area that really bothers me, my outer thigh. Commonly referred to as saddle bags. I think this may be a genetic predisposition but regardless, I can’t seem to loose it. Is there a procedure that can reduce and smooth that area that is not too invasive?

  • Phillipa says:

    Hi! I’m 20 years old and quite athletic, but I went through a weight gain period around two years ago and can’t seem to lose the last inch off my waist. It used to measure 24 inches, but has been stuck at 25 inches for a couple months. Would any of these procedures work for me, and how much would they cost?

  • David B. Reath, MD says:

    Dear JoAnn,
    Thanks for your email. We would have to see you to know, but probably either liposuction or Coolsculpting could work. Obviously, CoolSculpting would be the less invasive of the two. If you will give my office a call, we can set up a time to discuss this.
    All the best,
    David B. Reath, MD

  • Alex Pappas says:

    please advise regarding coolsculpting vs traditional liposuction for male man boobs or to reduce fat and flatten chest area and difference in cost of each procedure.Thanx Alex

  • Donni says:

    I am a woman in her late 50’s who has had a liposuction procedure previously. I must admit I didn’t see any change from the procedure and never followed up with the physician and considered it a bad choice. But now, I would like to have another stab at a procedure that will render the results I’m looking for, and I don’t mind having multiple procedures to render the results I’m looking for as I’m also considering the cost (smaller installments instead of a large down payment). I’m about 30 lbs overweight and have tried many diets to lose the weight, and needless to say, I haven’t been successful. I’ve also worked out regularly and still haven’t been able to get rid of the gut. HELP!!!

    • Dr. Reath says:

      Dear Donni,
      Thanks for your email/comment on my blog. To know what is best for you, I will really need to see you. There are many different ways to reduce fat: liposuction, CoolSculpting, abdominoplasty. However each of these are means of changing the shape of the body and not weight loss per se. If you trying to rid yourself of 30 lbs. weight loss through whatever means is your only real option. CoolSculpting and liposuction are good for areas of fat that are out of proportion to the rest of the body. Abdominoplasties or tummy tucks are great for people who have had substantial weight loss or women who have had pregnancies.
      If you would like to consult on these, please call my office at 865-450-9253.

  • Pingback: 5 Areas CoolSculpting Works Better Than Liposuction | David B. Reath, MD

  • RI says:

    Hi, you are so logical about going to someone with many options so they don’t oversell the only thing they have to all. I have belly fat and love handles that I think lipo would be best for to be more precise and do more in one go. I know I will have some wrinkly lose skin but I don’t mind or care as I don’t wear anything that shows it. I just want a firm and flat midsection under clothes. Is lipo down time less than tummy tuck? Also where are you located to make an appointment.

  • David B. Reath, MD says:

    Dear RI,
    Thanks for your email. If you have loose skin, you will be much better off with a tummy tuck. Liposuction of an area where the skin is already loose, will make the skin even more loose, which is sort of a bummer. Many tummy tucks include liposuction as a part of the operation itself (a lipoabdominoplasty). This really gets the best of both worlds.
    However, there is certainly a longer recovery with a tummy tuck.
    Hope this helps,
    All the best,
    David B. Reath, MD
    109 S. Northshore Drive
    Suite 101
    Knoxville, TN 37919

  • Elise Weglarz says:

    Hi Dr. Reath,

    I was wondering what the average cost would be for a Mommy Makeover. I know I would need a tummy tuck (loose skin, stretched to Heaven belly button), and I also want a breast augmentation/lift. I would want to get both done at once, but I have found that many doctors simply charge the normal cost for each procedure. I keep researching because I’ve heard some doctors will not charge the full, separate price for each procedure, resulting in a bit of a discount if getting both procedures done at once.

  • David B. Reath says:

    Dear Elise,
    Thank you for your email. Our cost for a Mommy Makeover including a breast lift with silicone implants and a tummy tuck is $12,115. Note that this price includes the anesthesia and operating room costs. This price is less than if you were to have both operations done individually.
    No plastic surgeon would tell you that price is not a consideration when contemplating elective plastic surgery. However, it is not the only consideration. If you were talking with plastic surgeons in an area and one was two to three times more than the others, that might be a concern. But most plastic surgeons in a given area will be in about the same price range. So it is important to be working with a plastic surgeon with whom you are comfortable. (And you should be comfortable with his office staff, too.) If he is a bit more, it may be worth it. As I said, price is not the most important consideration. As a good friend of my says, “Would you buy a discount parachute?”
    I wish you all the best,
    David B. Reath, MD

  • Zachary says:

    Hello Dr. Reath,

    I would love your thoughts here. When I was 20 years old, I lost about 80 pounds of weight. Now, I’m 28 and I have kept that weight off. I do not have any loose skin, but I just can’t get rid of the little bulge of fat below my belly button. My top 4 abs are visible, then there is this bulge. I tried increasing cardio to a point where I was losing muscle, but that bulge of fat didn’t go anywhere.

    I don’t mind downtime, I just want to know what procedure will be most effective for me, and an approximate cost of the options. Thank you so much!

  • David B. Reath says:

    Dear Zachary,
    Thanks for your email. The issue you are dealing with is most likely not fat, but excess skin (with some underlying fat). The only real way to tackle this is to have the skin removed surgically. How involved the surgery is, will depend upon how much skin excess there is.
    The bottom line here is that to correct this you will need surgery and there will be some downtime.
    If you would to discuss this further, please call my office at 865-4350-9253 to set up a time for an evaluation.
    Sincerely yours,
    David B. Reath, MD

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