You’ve been working hard to achieve a flatter tummy, but despite your efforts, some skin and muscles just won’t bounce back after having children. You may be considering surgical intervention for the area between your belly button and pubic area, but you’re unsure if a mini tummy tuck or a full tummy tuck is the right choice for you.
Understanding the Difference
The terms “mini” tuck or “tiny” tuck can be confusing, both for patients and surgeons. Miscommunication of expectations and desired outcomes can occur during a plastic surgery consultation. To clarify the differences between tummy tuck procedures, it’s important to understand the distinctions between a standard tummy tuck and a mini tummy tuck.
What Is a Standard Tummy Tuck?
During a standard abdominoplasty, incisions are made at the lower abdominal crease (hip bone to hip bone) and above the belly button. The surgeon lifts the skin and fat and performs rectus plication, a technique that repairs stretched abdominal muscles. Excess skin and fat, including stretch marks, are removed, and the two sides are closed.
In a standard tummy tuck, the belly button remains attached to the underlying muscle wall and is brought back through the skin using an oval incision. To contour the midsection and create a flat abdomen and hourglass shape, plastic surgeons often combine liposuction to reduce excess fat at the upper abdomen, love handles, and bra bulge. This comprehensive approach is referred to as liposuction 360.
What Is a Mini Tummy Tuck?
A mini abdominoplasty focuses on tightening the skin between the belly button and pubic area. This procedure is less invasive than a standard tummy tuck, primarily involving skin removal.
Candidates for a Mini Tummy Tuck
Ideal candidates for a mini tummy tuck are generally smaller-framed, within a healthy weight range, and have some loose skin and fat (commonly known as a pregnancy pooch) around their lower abdomen. They typically have little to no abdominal muscle separation (rectus diastasis) and smaller pockets of fat in their flanks or waist.
In a mini tummy tuck, certain steps taken in a standard tuck are eliminated:
Tiny Tuck Scars
A mini tummy tuck incision is typically shorter, just a few inches, and placed between the hip bones, similar to a cesarean section scar. The amount of extra skin and fat removed is significantly less than in a traditional abdominoplasty. The procedure is often referred to as a “skin-only” procedure because only small amounts of fat need to be removed to re-contour and shape the abs. The discreet incision can easily be concealed by underwear and most swimsuits.
One factor that contributes to a faster recovery time with a mini tuck is that candidates for this procedure typically do not require abdominal muscle repair. Diastasis Recti affects the entire abdominal area, and it is recommended that women with significant muscle separation consider a full tummy tuck rather than a mini tuck.
Belly Button Considerations
In most cases, a mini tummy tuck does not involve removing loose skin above the belly button. The belly button can be “floated” by repositioning it before completing the procedure, eliminating the need for a scar around the belly button and maintaining a natural-looking result. However, if aesthetic refining is required for the belly button, it can be treated with a standard umbilical incision, resulting in a small vertical scar on the lower abdomen during the inset.
Liposuction with a Mini Tuck
While most mini tummy tucks do not include liposuction of the flanks or love handles, there are cases where liposuction can be performed based on the patient’s goals, expectations, and unique anatomy.
The results of a mini tummy tuck are generally permanent, provided that you maintain your look through a balanced diet, maintaining your ideal weight, and regular exercise. It is also important to consider if you have finished having children.
Choosing the Right Tuck for You
In summary, both a standard or full abdominoplasty and a mini tummy tuck address different degrees of skin laxity and abdominal muscle bulging. While a full tummy tuck addresses Diastasis Recti and more extensive loose, stretched skin, a mini tummy tuck has less downtime and specifically targets skin laxity in the lower abdominal area. Both procedures provide similar results: a flat abdomen and body contouring at the waistline.
Consultation with a Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon
During your abdominoplasty consultation, a board-certified plastic surgeon will assess your unique anatomy and goals to develop a personalized plan that aligns with your vision for your body, both in the short-term and long-term. Whether you choose to meet in-person or online, this complimentary cosmetic consultation will help you discover the possibilities ahead.