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What are mini and extended tummy tucks?

Tummy tuck Cornelius, Davidson, Mooresville, Huntersville, Charlotte

Tummy TuckA flat, sleek abdomen is a very common desire, and many people put a lot of effort into achieving it. Although there are some who can achieve it through diet and exercise, there are others for whom these will never be enough. Whether because of pregnancy, a major weight loss, or simply because of genetics, some people will never have a flat belly, even when they’re at a healthy weight and are fit.

If you’re one of the many who have struggled with this issue, you may have considered a tummy tuck. It’s one of the five most common cosmetic surgical procedures performed. (Liposuction is not the same as a tummy tuck, although these can sometimes be performed together.) There are a few different options, and which one is right for you depends on your particular situation and your goals for your appearance. What are the advantages and disadvantages of the various options? How can you choose which type of tummy tuck is right for you?

Full tummy tuck

The full tummy tuck is the traditional procedure, and creates the greatest amount of change in the appearance of the abdomen. The incision is made on the lower part of the abdomen. The surgeon pulls the skin away from the underlying tissues, all the way up to the top of the abdomen (the ribs and breastbone). Excess loose skin and fat is removed, and the abdominal muscles are plicated, meaning that the two halves of the muscle are sewn together. Another incision is made around the belly button. As the upper abdominal skin is pulled down to tighten it, the belly button will need to be moved up higher and sutured into its new location.

For a full tummy tuck, the incision goes from one hip point to the other. The surgeon will place the incision as low as possible, but the resulting scar can’t always be fully hidden by a swimsuit. Still, it’s important to keep in mind that the scar will flatten and fade over time, and in most people it will be nearly invisible after a year of healing, even when not covered by clothing.  Dr. Miles will recommend and offers scar therapies and treatments to help ensure the scar heals with minimal visibility.

For those who have significant concerns with their abdomen that they want to address, only a full tummy tuck can provide desired results to these patients; and it’s worth it to many women to have the longer scar in order to get rid of all of the loose skin and fat that has been bothering them for years. For other women, however, the longer scar is unnecessary for addressing the issues that they face.

Mini tummy tuck

For those who don’t want to commit to the full tummy tuck operation, and who have only a minimal amount of loose skin in the lower abdomen, the mini tummy tuck was developed. This procedure addresses only the lower abdomen (the area below the navel). The scar from a mini tummy tuck is similar in both size and placement to a modern C-section scar; it’s located just above the pubic bone and is just a few inches in length. Also, there will not be a scar around the belly button. The scar from a mini tummy tuck is generally very easy to hide under a swimsuit, unlike a standard tummy tuck scar, which must be longer to allow for complete removal of excess tissue.

The mini tummy tuck can only address problems with the part of the abdomen below the navel. There is no removal of skin from the upper part of the abdomen, and there is no repositioning of the navel with this surgery. Although most people very much like the idea of a shorter scar across the abdomen and no scar around the belly button, the truth is that this surgery simply cannot produce a dramatic enough result to make many people satisfied with the appearance of their belly after the surgery. For example, a woman who has had a pregnancy, and therefore has stretch marks and a significant amount of loose skin across the whole belly, will not be able to address these problems with a mini tummy tuck. In certain people, however, the mini tummy tuck can offer tightening of the lower belly with a shorter recovery and smaller scar.

Short-scar tummy tuck

Some women are fortunate to have skin that “bounces back” well after pregnancy, but they still find themselves with separated muscles all along the abdomen, from the ribs down to the pubic bone. These women don’t need a full tummy tuck, because they don’t have a lot of loose skin. However, their concerns are not confined just to the area below the navel, because the muscles are separated all along the abdomen. Women in this situation may benefit from a procedure that’s sometimes called a short-scar full tummy tuck.

In a short-scar full tummy tuck, the same smaller incision is made as in a mini tummy tuck, and there will be removal of only a small amount of loose skin below the navel, also like in a mini tummy tuck. However, the surgeon also lifts the skin from the whole abdomen, and plicates the abdominal muscles all along their length. In other words, this procedure is like a full tummy tuck for the muscles, but a mini tummy tuck for the skin. For certain patients, this offers the best of both worlds.

Extended tummy tuck

For those who have a lot of excess loose skin, more extensive procedures are available. An extended tummy tuck involves an incision that extends past the hip points to the flanks, while in a belt lipectomy, the incision extends all the way around the abdomen to the back. These more extensive procedures allow the surgeon to remove a lot of extra loose skin and tissue, and are suitable for those who have undergone a massive weight loss (often after having bariatric surgery). These patients often struggle with extra tissue all over the body.

A fleur-de-lis tummy tuck is the most extensive type of tummy tuck. This procedure involves a vertical incision along the midline of the abdomen, as well as a horizontal one in the same spot as a full tummy tuck. This can help to remove skin that’s lax horizontally, as well as vertically. The tradeoff is that there will be a vertical scar along the midline of the abdomen, along with the usual horizontal scar between the hip points. There is a higher rate of complications with this type of procedure, so it should only be undertaken when other procedures would not be able to remove enough tissue to give a satisfactory result. However, because it does give the surgeon the ability to remove more excess skin and tighten the abdomen in multiple directions, it may be the right choice for some patients.

Different approaches are right for different patients

It’s important to recognize that each of these approaches has advantages and disadvantages. While many people like the idea of a smaller scar, there are limitations to what can be accomplished through a smaller incision. There is less ability for the surgeon to remove fat tissue and sculpt the abdomen through a shorter incision. The surgeon also cannot remove as much loose skin and connective tissue with the shorter incision.

For women who are struggling with loose skin on the abdomen, a full tummy tuck will often offer the best results. Although the scar will be longer, the overall results will be far superior, and so the longer scar is worth it to many women. However, for those who don’t have a problem with loose skin, the mini tummy tuck or short-scar full tummy tuck may be good options, depending on what other problems they’re dealing with. For those with more extensive concerns, the full tummy tuck may not be enough, and an extended tummy tuck will give better results. You’ll need to visit a qualified plastic surgeon to find out what your best option might be.

If you’re considering a tummy tuck Cornelius, Davidson, Mooresville, Huntersville, or other parts of the surrounding Charlotte area, Dr. Erik Miles is very well qualified to advise you on what you could expect from each of your options. During your consultation, he will examine you and learn more about your goals, and will then take the time to explain your various options to you.

Our consultations are designed to be informative, not to be high-pressure sales pitches as they unfortunately are at many other offices. Having a consultation with Dr. Erik Miles will allow you to learn what you need to know to make the right decision for you, without worrying that you’ll be pressured into having a procedure without careful consideration. To schedule your appointment, please contact our office.

Dr. Erik J. Miles
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