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The Three Types of Tummy Tuck: Which Is Right for Me?

The Three Types of Tummy Tuck: Which Is Right for Me?

Most of us have heard of the tummy tuck; a cosmetic surgery procedure, also known as abdominoplasty, designed to remove loose, excess skin from the abdominal area. The tummy tuck is occasionally referred to as mommy makeover surgery, in conjunction with breast augmentation, or breast lifts, and liposuction. Some patients are also familiar with the mini tummy tuck; a more focused version of the standard procedure that removes a smaller portion of abdominal skin. However, many prospective cosmetic surgery patients don't realize that there are actually three main forms of tummy tuck surgery:

  • The Mini Tummy Tuck
  • The Standard Tummy Tuck
  • The Extended Tummy Tuck.

So how do you know which type of tummy tuck is right for you? What are the real differences between these body contouring procedures? Read on to learn more.

The Mini Tummy Tuck

The baby of the bunch is the mini tummy tuck, sometimes known as the "scarless tummy tuck". As mentioned above, the mini tummy tuck is called the mini because it removes a smaller portion of skin, and because the incision is smaller in general. The mini tummy tuck is best for individuals with a "mini" amount of stubborn belly flab that won't be reduced by diet and exercise. In other words, mini tummy tucks is great for generally healthy, fit patients who want to be rid of that "pouch" of skin hampering their otherwise slender physique.

Mini tummy tuck surgeons will make an incision in the lower abdominal wall that reaches to the navel. Because this surgery is on a smaller scale than traditional tummy tucks, the navel itself usually doesn't have to be repositioned during the procedure. Once the incision is made, the surgeon will remove minor excess skin, tighten the abdominal muscles, and then pull the remaining skin taut to close the incision. Recovery times for the mini tummy tuck will vary from patient to patient, but with use of over-the-counter painkillers and avoidance of intense physical activity, patients should be able to resume daily activities in less than a week.

The Traditional or Standard Tummy Tuck

The traditional tummy tuck is ideal for men and women who are in good physical health, and who have a sizable portion of loose skin to remove from their midsection. Oftentimes, traditional tummy tuck patients have recently lost a great deal of weight, or are women who have excess flab and/or weak abdominal muscles post pregnancy. Again, this procedure is for patients who couldn't reduce their tummy troubles through diet and exercise alone.

For the traditional tummy tuck, the surgical incision is slightly larger, usually running in a straight line between the hip bones. Again, minor liposuction may be used to assist with any fat removal before the surgeon tightens the abdominal muscles and closes the incision. Because the standard tummy tuck involves a larger portion of skin being removed, the belly button must be correctly repositioned as one of the last steps. Since this procedure is a bit more intensive than the mini, traditional tummy tuck patients may require a brief hospital stay during initial recovery. The average recovery time for traditional tummy tucks is 2-4 weeks, during which time pain medication is prescribed to prevent unnecessary pain or discomfort.

The Extended Tummy Tuck

For patients with a greater amount of loose, sagging skin on their abdomen, as well as on their hips and on the sides of their lower back, the extended tummy tuck is the most appropriate procedure choice. Extended tummy tuck patients also usually have excess fat in these body regions that need to be removed along with the extra skin.

In extended tummy tuck surgery, a long incision is made in the abdominal area that reaches around the hips to the lower back. Extended tummy tucks almost always require liposuction to remove excess fat cells and drain extra fluids. The plastic surgeon then tightens muscles in the abdomen and around the hips, and removes any unnecessary loose skin before suturing the incision. Like with the traditional tummy tuck, the belly button must be repositioned to correspond with the patient's newly transformed body shape. The recovery period for extended tummy tuck surgery begins in the hospital, where patients usually stay for 1-2 days depending on their status. Daily activities that don't require much physical exertion may often be resumed within a month of surgery. Swelling may persist a little longer.

More Tummy Tuck Options and Alternatives

While the three tummy tuck techniques listed above are the most popular and prevalent among cosmetic surgery patients, other possibilities exist. The most minimal tummy tuck option to date is the endoscopic tummy tuck, which makes the smallest incision, removes the least amount of skin, and leaves very minute scarring. On the other end of the spectrum, circumferential tummy tucks involve a surgical incision that extends completely around the waistline. Yet another surgical procedure similar to the tummy tuck is the panniculectomy, or "fat apron removal" surgery.

It's important to note that tummy tuck surgery is not mainly intended as a weight loss solution, and there are specific health requirements patients must meet to be a tummy tuck candidate. Like liposuction, tummy tucks are also not intended to remove cellulite—although patients who suffer from cellulite may combine or follow up their tummy tuck surgery with a cellulite treatment.

For more information about tummy tuck surgery and tummy tuck costs, or to learn which tummy tuck procedure you're a candidate for, it's best to consult first with a qualified plastic surgeon in your area.

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