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Diagram showing the incisions and scars from a full tummy tuck
by Tammy Wu, MD, Modesto Tummy Tuck Surgeon
Tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, is a procedure designed to improve the contour of the abdomen, or the belly.
Tummy tuck is a surgery that is usually performed as an outpatient procedure, meaning that the patient will usually go home after surgery. The surgery usually takes approximately 2.5 to 3 hours for a full tummy tuck, and usually 1.5 hours or so for a mini-tummy tuck. We will talk more about the differences between the mini and the full tummy tuck later.
Tummy tuck surgery has three components:
1. Removal of excess skin and its associated fat
2. Tightening of the abdominal muscles (plication of the rectus anterior fascia)
3. Reconstruction of the belly button
All these are elements of a tummy tuck surgery. The ultimate outcome is a flatter and better-defined abdomen.
What is the difference between a full versus a mini tummy tuck?
Many patients come to me and want minimal scarring; therefore, they ask for the mini tummy tuck; or they want to spend less money, thinking that ‘mini’ is a lesser procedure; therefore, it would be less costly.
They are correct in thinking along those lines. However, not everyone is a candidate for a mini tummy tuck.
A mini tummy tuck is designed to improve mainly the lower abdomen, or the portion of the belly or abdomen below the belly button. Who is a candidate for a mini tummy tuck then?
An individual who is a thinner individual or who is within his or her normal body mass index, who has minimal excess skin above the belly button, and who has minimal separation (or diastasis) of the rectus muscles above the belly button (umbilicus), yet has a lower belly ‘pooch’ that just juts out from under the belly button, is a good candidate for a mini tummy tuck procedure. When one looks at this particular individual from the side, or his/her profile, one will see a relatively flat upper abdomen or belly, yet a protruding lower abdomen that makes him/her appear as if she is either possibly pregnant, or has poor posture (which she may indeed have due to loosening of the lower abdominal muscles).
A person who has the same description as the above individual, but who also has loose skin above the belly button, and who has loosening of the muscles from pregnancy or massive weight loss (greater than 50 lbs), would be a candidate for a full tummy tuck.
A full tummy tuck works on the entire abdomen, from the area called the “xiphoid” or the bottom part of the breast bone, all the way down to the mons pubis, or the pelvic region connecting the lower abdomen to the pelvis.
The skin of the abdomen is lifted through a greater extent in a full tummy tuck as described above, the muscles are tightened in the same region just below the breast bone to the pelvis until the muscle covering, or fascia, looks and feels like a tight drum. Then the skin is redraped over the tightened and flattened muscles. The amount of excess skin is assessed and removed. Then the umbilicus, or the belly button, is brought out and sutured, or connected back, to the new tightened and flattened skin and reconstructed into an esthetically pleasing shape and appearance.
In a mini tummy tuck, the tissues and skin above the belly button is not touched or manipulated. The belly button is not reconstructed or moved, other than by virtue of pulling down the lower abdominal skin to close the incision. By working only on the lower abdomen, removing less skin in the process, the scar thereby can be shorter in a mini tummy tuck. The muscles of the lower belly below the belly button usually are tightened in a mini tummy tuck as well, because the loosening of the lower abdominal muscles usually is a big contributor to the ‘lower belly pooch’ as well. Therefore, if one does not tighten the muscles underneath, one may not get the optimal outcome of a flattened belly.
As a consequence of the extent of the surgery and the amount of skin removed, a full tummy tuck takes a longer time to complete, with a longer scar because more skin and tissue is removed in the process compared to that of a mini tummy tuck.
A tummy tuck procedure’s cost varies according to region as well as full vs. mini. There are some instances in which a ‘modified’ tummy tuck, whether it’s a full or a mini, will be performed. With these modified procedures, specific requests by patients are often taken into account to modify the procedure to their satisfaction.
In the Central Valley region of California, where our office is located, the cost of tummy tucks can range from $6000 or so for a mini-tummy tuck, to $8,500 or more for a full tummy tuck, depending what needs to be done. This includes our surgeon's fees as well as the hospital fees.
Every individual has a unique body, and therefore, if you are interested in this surgery, please contact a board-certified plastic surgeon (ASPS) in your area to discuss your goals further.
Tammy Wu, MD
Please feel free to contact our Modesto Plastic Surgery office (209) 551-1888 if you would like more information.
Visit our other page about tummy tuck: Modesto Tummy Tuck FAQ and Cost of Tummy Tuck
Modesto Plastic Surgery | Why Choose Dr. Wu | Cost of Surgery
Breast Augmentation | Tummy Tuck
Surgical Artistry webpage is for
information only, not medical advice. Dr. Tammy Wu on
www.surgerytoday.com homemade website by Calvin Lee, MD and Tzuying Tammy Wu, MD, Modesto, CA
Date of edit: 03/02/2015