By Ramsey J. Choucair, M.D.
“I want a toned abdominal contour and a smaller waist.” This is a common request that I often hear from many of my patients. A tummy tuck is a plastic surgery alternative that often fits the bill with such requests. However, one size does not fit all.
What is a Tummy Tuck? A Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty) creates a permanent change in the shape and appearance of the abdomen, hips and flanks. There are many terms used to describe tummy tucks. The following is our description of tummy tuck options.
- “Mini mini” Tummy Tuck. This type of procedure involves removing a small section of skin in the lower abdominal area, which is limited so it may easily be covered by underwear or a swim suit. Suction assisted lipectomy is performed along the entire abdomen, flanks and hips. A mini mini tummy tuck contours the entire mid section of the body with minimal recovery as no muscle repair is performed as it is simply not necessary. There are also no incisions around the belly button. The recovery time is usually 2-4 days.
- “Mini” tummy tuck. This option only applies to patients who have laxity of their abdominal wall muscles “below the belly button”. A mini tummy tuck is infrequently a good option for most patients as typically the laxity, or looseness of the abdominal muscles is rarely limited to just the lower abdomen. A mini tummy tuck removes a small section of skin as in the “mini mini” tummy tuck (low in the abdomen), however there is tightening of the muscles from the belly button downwards. Again, there is no incision around the belly button and suction assisted lipectomy, or liposuction, is performed along the entire abdomen, hips and flanks.
- “Full” Tummy Tuck. With a “full” tummy tuck procedure, a longer incision is made in the lower abdominal area, beneath the bathing suit or bikini line. There is also an incision made around the belly button so that the skin above it may be pulled downwards. All of the abdominal wall muscles are tightened from just below the breast bone all the way down to the pubic area. This flattens the abdominal contour as much as possible. Additionally, liposuction is performed over the abdomen, hip and flank areas. The “full” or standard tummy tuck contours the abdominal area as much as surgically possible.
Recovery time for returning to office type work with any abdominoplasty, which includes muscle tightening, extends the convalescence to at least 7-14 days. Physical exercise is limited for the first two weeks with any style of tummy tuck. Heavy weight lifting or abdominal work is restricted for up to 6 to 12 weeks when muscles are surgically tightened.
5 Key Points to Remember When Considering Abdominoplasty.
1. Suction assisted lipectomy of the abdomen, hips and flanks is safe and necessary to create the most flattering abdominal contour.
2. Muscle repair is performed, if necessary, and is considered critical to creating a flat tummy.
3. The incision must be kept low so that swim suits and undergarments may be worn, and hopefully hide as much of the incision as possible.
4. The umbilicus or “belly button” must be reconstructed precisely. Attention to detail is critical to a pleasing aesthetic result.
5. Communicating the expectation of the result, from the patient’s stand point, is critical to successful abdominoplasty surgery. Make sure that you know exactly what you should expect from the surgery, and that you and your surgeon have communicated clearly regarding the expected results to be accomplished.
An abdominoplasty can create a lifelong change in the abdominal contour. If you are considering abdominoplasty surgery, make sure you obtain the right information so you can make a well informed decision and reach your goal.