What is a mini tummy tuck?
Also known as a partial abdominoplasty, a mini tummy tuck is a body contouring procedure which can be an excellent option for people who have a small amount of abdominal pooch due to stretched or separated muscles. It is ideal for individuals who do not require a full tummy tuck but are unhappy with the appearance of the area below the belly button.
A bulge along the area below the navel is common because of weakened stomach muscles which stemmed from pregnancy or weight fluctuations. What a mini tummy tuck does is correct the problem when suction alone is insufficient and a full abdominoplasty is too much.
How is it different from a full tummy tuck?
The full procedure is what people refer to when they speak of a “tummy tuck.” It is done to reshape and tighten the abdominal area by addressing three components: fat, muscles, and skin. The procedure repairs weakened abdominal muscles while removing excess skin or fat through tightening, surgical removal, and/or liposuction.
In a mini tummy tuck, the extent of skin separation and muscle repair is only between the bellybutton, and the location of the incisions is above the pubic hairline. The incision length is also one of the most noticeable difference between a full and a mini tummy tuck. A full tummy tuck incisions typically runs all the way from hip to hip, while a mini tummy tuck uses shorter incisions. While the idea of a smaller scar appeals to many patients, it is also important to consider that a shorter incision also means limited access during surgery. It is only appropriate when you need a lesser degree of correction.
The level of correction begins just below the existing belly button with a mini tummy tuck. So, if your aesthetic concern is above the navel, this approach may not be comprehensive enough. It is appropriate for patients whose skin and muscle laxity is limited to just the lower abdomen and the upper abdominal muscles are already in a reasonably good shape.
Removal of the belly button is also one thing that separates the traditional approach from the mini tummy tuck. This is because the placement of the bellybutton will be pulled down much lower on the abdomen during surgery. Meanwhile, in a mini tummy tuck, the placement of the navel is not noticeably changed because less skin is removed. This is also the reason why there is no risk of scar formation around the belly button, which can sometimes be seen in a full tummy tuck.
With less correction, surgery and recovery is faster with a mini tummy tuck. In fact, most patients feel ready to return to work a week after their procedure, compared to the 10-14 days needed for a full tummy tuck.
In deciding which one is right for you, it is essential that you go back to your personal goals. A consultation is also necessary to assess whether you are a good candidate for one or the other.
Is it for every one?
A mini tummy tuck is a great option for those who are:
- At a stable weight
- Dealing with excess abdominal fat even though you are in good shape
- Concerned about loose skin or a protruding lower belly only
- Struggling with an abdomen that protrudes because it lacks tone even after you lose weight with diet and exercise.
Always remember that a mini tummy tuck is not a substitute for weight loss or a healthy exercise regimen. While the results are long-lasting, the outcome may be influenced by weight fluctuation after surgery. If you are still considering another pregnancy, it is advised that you postpone your surgery. If you do, the benefits of the procedure will unlikely be undone.
What can be expected during the procedure?
A mini tummy tuck may be less invasive, but it can still leave a scar behind. It’s not like a scar you get with breast surgery which is tucked away in a crease. Although, there may be a potential for scarring, it can be fashioned in a way that it can be easily concealed when wearing a bikini. For those who are prone to keloidal scars, inform your surgeon ahead of time so he can use the right approach.
Both full and mini tummy tucks may be done with a liposuction to remove any excess fats. This is also necessary to address stubborn fats and to better contour the abdominal area.
Since less skin is removed, also expect that it may not totally eliminate stretch marks especially if you have plenty of them. This is the reason why you have to explicitly explain to your surgeon the results that you aim to achieve.
What are the risks involved?
Every surgery comes with risks. Even though this is a less invasive version, the fact remains that it still creates a break in skin integrity which is a potential portal of entry of problems. This in itself exposes you to several risks which include:
- Pulmonary embolism (blood clots that travel to the lungs)
- Post-op fluid collections
- Blood clots in the legs (deep vein thrombosis or DVT)
- Wound healing problems
Fortunately, the risk of these problems from occurring is minimal. You can ensure that it does not create major complications by choosing your surgeon carefully. The right care and instruction significantly improves your chances in minimizing the risks. You must ensure that you disclose your complete cardiac and pulmonary issues, or any life-threatening conditions.Following post-operative instructions is also important because proper healing is critical to ensure success during the last leg of the surgical process.
Choosing a surgeon for a mini tummy tuck
The most important factor in an elective procedure is choosing a surgeon with experience. Each surgeon has their own expertise, so you just don’t simply settle for any surgeon, but one who has the specialization for that particular surgery. During your consultation, expect to be asked about your desired results. Your stomach may also be examined, measured, photographed.
It is recommended that you go to multiple consultations before selecting a surgeon. Prepare your questions so you can discuss more comprehensively. Also expect to be asked about your desired results, so you should also be self-aware of what you want to achieve. When you are aware of all these things, it allows you to better assess your surgeon when you go around for consultations.
Always remember that, “the bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.” So, make sure that you are not selling yourself short. Make the same effort as when you would go for other more invasive cosmetic procedures. When done right, a mini tummy tuck can give you highly satisfying results.