Abdominoplasty, known more commonly as a “tummy tuck”, is surgery or body contouring of the abdominal skin and removal of fat. When researching this procedure, there are multiple terms that are thrown out: tummy tuck, abdominoplasty, full tummy tuck, modified tummy tuck, mini tummy tuck, and extended tummy tuck.
So what’s the difference between these and what is most appropriate for you?
Full Tummy Tuck
The goal of a full or modified tummy tuck is the same: to create a tighter, flatter stomach. When we talk about a full tummy tuck in my practice, this is an incision that runs hip to hip. The skin is lifted off of the abdominal wall to the level of the ribs and breast bone. The belly button remains in place, excess skin is removed, the abdominal muscles which may have been stretched out with weight changes and pregnancy are tightened, a new hole for the belly button is created and then liposuction of the hip folds or love handle area is performed.
Extended Tummy Tuck
An extended tummy tuck may be for someone who’s been heavier in their lifetime or has had massive weight loss. These patients have excessive skin accompanied by laxity of the abdominal muscles, which makes them excellent candidates for an extended tummy tuck. An extended tummy tuck typically goes around the sides, extends beyond the hip to hip folds and also may need more dissection of the excessive skin if it falls over the rib area.
Mini Tummy Tuck
A mini tummy tuck or a modified tummy tuck is sometimes a term that can be a variation of any of the above procedures. In my practice sometimes a mini tummy tuck is sometimes for a patient who has no excessive skin or stretch marks above the belly button but has excessive skin or excessive fat below the belly button. Typically this can be performed through a much smaller incision. The belly button does not get detached and placed in a new opening. Basically it’s floated down or dropped down a little bit lower than the original placement with the pulling of the skin. A modified tummy tuck again, can be any combination of these things plus or minus liposuction.
Determining whether or not you’re a candidate depends on how much excessive skin, stretch marks and excessive fat tissue you have. Previous surgeries such as open gall bladders, gastric bypass, midline surgeries, and even laparoscopic surgeries may change what type of candidate you are for body contouring surgery of the abdomen. Candidates typically are healthy enough to undergo surgery, are close to their recommended body weight, and have excessive skin and adipose tissue. They are non-smokers, and desire a more contoured mid-section.
What is the Recovery Process?
The recovery for this procedure varies depending on which procedure you have. Typically it takes about 4 weeks until you return to your normal exercise routine. At about two weeks most people can return to work unless they have a very physical job. It takes 6-8 weeks for the majority of the swelling to decrease and it takes 1 year for all of the scars to mature completely. With any of these surgeries you’ll wear a compressive garment after surgery for 4-8 weeks that will be an abdominal binder or girdle and transition into shape wear or Spanx type garments. Drains are usually placed for a short period of time. These will remain in 5-10 days to drain excessive fluid away from the skin that was lifted and also to prevent this area from swelling more. The majority of the stitches are dissolvable and there are several stitches that have to be removed after one week of surgery. It will take 6-8 weeks to see extreme differences in your bodies contouring and shape. At this time as people return to exercise they notice they will continue to slim down and shrink.
An important part of determining what surgery is right for you during the consultation is obviously noting what areas bother you the most, how much excessive skin you have, whether or not there are stretch marks present and what your desired outcome is. For some people it’s to look better in their clothing, for others it’s to get back into a bikini. This may also change the approach the surgeon uses.
To learn more about tummy tuck procedure, or to schedule your consultation with Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon Dr. Moenster or Board-Certified Dermatologist Dr. Weye, please fill out the form on this page. You can call our Tucson location at 520-207-3100 or our Sierra Vista location at 520-458-1787. We look forward to seeing you soon!