There are almost 200,000 tummy tucks, or abdominoplasty, performed each year in the United States. This is a procedure that is designed to flatten the belly and narrow the waistline. It is a procedure performed by 93% of all Board Certified Plastic Surgeons. The reason for it’s popularity is how powerful it is at transforming the body and erase years off someone’s appearance. However, there several variations in a tummy tuck procedure. Let’s discuss some of the main differences between traditional tummy tuck (“Full” tummy tuck) and a mini tummy tuck. Both are intended to improve the appearance of the abdomen, but there are several key differences and one may be a better option for you.
What is a Traditional Tummy Tuck?
A Traditional tummy tuck is a procedure that simultaneously addresses skin, fat, and muscles in a one operation. Specifically, a tummy tuck includes:
- Removal of excess abdominal skin
- Tightening of separated abdominal muscles – repair of rectus muscle diasthasis
- Removal of excess fat with liposuction
- Rejuvenation of belly button
This is performed through a low horizontal, generally hip-to-hip, and ideally below the underwear or bikini line. The procedure tends to offer the most complete abdominal improvement since it addresses many aspects of the entire abdomen. Additionally, the repair of the abdominal muscle separation creates the flattest belly. This is often referred to as a “full” tummy tuck, especially when comparing it with a mini tummy tuck.
What is a Mini Tummy Tuck?
A mini Tummy Tuck is a procedure designed to be a less invasive version of a traditional tummy tuck. It is intended to improve the appearance of your abdomen, through a shorter incision and with less recovery needed. Specifically, a mini tummy tuck includes:
- Removal of excess skin that is below the belly button
- Removal of excess fat through liposuction
It is important to note that there is usually no repair of separated abdominal muscles (rectus muscle diasthasis) during a mini tummy tuck. Also, the belly button is not placed through a new abdominal wall opening, as is done with a traditional tummy tuck.
Key Differences Between a Tummy Tuck and Mini Tummy Tuck
- Scar: A traditional tummy tuck scar is longer, often hip-to-hip, while the scar of a mIni Tummy Tuck can be just slightly longer than a c-section scar. This is because more skin is removed during a traditional tummy tuck, and a longer incision is needed for access to the abdominal muscle repair work.
- Muscle Repair: A key component of a traditional tummy tuck is repair of abdominal muscle separation. Muscle separation commonly occurs after pregnancies and prevents the abdomen from being flat, no matter how strong your abdominal muscles are or how muscle you diet or exercise. To repair the muscles, stitches are placed along the entire length of the abdomen, from the breast bone to the pubic bone. A mini tummy tuck, usually does not include any muscle repair.
- Skin Removal: A larger amount of excess skin is removed during a traditional tummy tuck. The skin is tightened above and below the belly button. A mini tummy tuck only removes excess skin below the belly button.
- Belly Button: During a traditional tummy tuck, the belly button is brought through a new opening in the abdominal skin. This gives a rejuvenated appearance to the belly button, but requires a scar that goes around the belly button. However, this is not done during a mini tummy tuck. The belly button is not placed through a new opening. This means that there will be no scar going around the belly button, but it will do very little to change the belly button appearance.
- Recovery: A mini tummy tucks requires less recovery. This is because it requires a shorter scar and because no abdominal muscle repair is performed. It is generally accepted that the repair of the abdominal muscles is what requires the most healing and the most activity restrictions.
Which Procedure is Best for You?
Deciding between a traditional Tummy Tuck and a mini Tummy Tuck really depends on what your specific abdominal issues are. If you have a significant amount of excess or loose skin throughout your abdomen, then a traditional tummy tuck will be best for you. Also, if you have a lot of excess skin and stretch marks around your belly button, then a traditional tummy tuck is also indicated. If your abdominal muscles are separated, which is common after pregnancies or significant weight loss, then a traditional tummy tuck with abdominal muscle diastasis repair is best.
If you only have excess skin below your belly button, and do not have a significant separation of your abdominal muscles, then a mini tummy tuck may be all that you need. A mini tummy tuck is usually a good option for people who are in good shape but complain of that lower abdominal “pooch”. The mini tummy tuck is also a popular choice among men, who usually do not suffer from abdominal muscle separation.
A mini tummy tuck is a less invasive procedure and requires less recovery. BUT, it also offers less improvement. This means that if you are best served by having a traditional tummy tuck, but you elect to have a mini tummy tuck because you desire a more rapid recovery or want a shorter scar, then you need to understand that you will be sacrificing some of your results. Your Board Certified Plastic Surgeon will be able to have a detailed discussion with you about which procedure is most appropriate for you.
Where is the Procedure Performed?
Both a Traditional Tummy Tuck and a Mini Tummy Tuck are performed in an accredited operating room under general anesthesia. After either procedure, you will be allowed to go home the same day after an appropriate stay in a recovery unit.
Can it be combined with other Procedures?
Tummy Tucks, whether traditional or mini, are commonly performed with other procedures such as breast augmentation, liposuction, and Brazilian Butt Lifts. Oftentimes, when these procedures are combined, it is referred to as a “Mommy Makeover”. Of course, when multiple procedures are combined, it will require longer surgical times, loner recovery room stays, and longer required recovery.
Can this be done on Men also?
Yes, both women AND men can benefit from abdominal contouring with either a traditional tummy tuck or a mini tummy tuck.
If you would like to learn more about slimming your abdomen and gaining back the confidence, contact NYC Board Certified Plastic Surgeon, Dr. Matthew Schulman. During your consultation, you can find out whether a Traditional Tummy Tuck or a Mini Tummy Tuck is the better option for you.