Patient Resource

What’s the difference between a mini tummy tuck vs tummy tuck?


Visualising a flat stomach in time for summer?

Cosmetic procedures that remove the bulge and tighten excess skin of the abdomen are becoming increasingly popular, particularly in women post pregnancy. Even with a healthy diet and regular exercise, for many getting rid of stubborn fat deposits and flabby, sagging skin is near impossible.

Tummy tuck and mini tummy tuck are two cosmetic procedures that aim to reduce the flab and smooth out the abdomen. But how do you decide which procedure is right for you?

We’ll share with you the main differences between a tummy tuck and mini tummy tuck to help you decide which may be right for you.

A mini tummy tuck vs. tummy tuck

The mini tummy tuck is becoming a popular abdominal procedure as it’s less invasive and painful than a traditional tummy tuck. The surgery is not as extensive, involving just a smaller incision to remove some excess skin below the belly button and tighten the abdominal muscles.

A tummy tuck on the other hand, is more invasive as it involves the middle and lower abdomen and can remove a greater amount of excess skin and fat. As a traditional tummy tuck address the entire abdomen it’s more suited for those who had previously suffered obesity, had multiple pregnancies, or experience genetic laxity.

A mini tummy tuck is better suited for those patients who are in reasonable shape, however struggle to shift some of the bulge or have minor sagging of skin in their lower abdomen.

Mini Tummy Tuck Tummy Tuck
Removes loose skin, and tightens muscles and skin of the lower abdomen Treats muscle separation, and removes and tightens loose skin of the entire abdomen
Small incision above the public bone Larger incision along the bikini line
Liposuction may be used Liposuction may be used
Local or general Anaesthesia General Anaesthesia
Procedure less than two hours Procedure up to five hours
Recovery time is 1-3 weeks Recovery time is 4-6 weeks
Thin scar Scar can extend from hipbone to hipbone along the bikini line
Suitable for people with slight sagging and minimal protrusion Suitable for people with excessive sagging as a result of pregnancy or drastic weight loss
Cost: $8-12k Cost: $12-16k

The difference in procedures

A mini tummy tuck is a procedure performed either under a local or general anaesthetic. Using an endoscope, one small incision is made just above the pubic area to remove excess fat. Depending on the patient, liposuction may be used to help refine the treated area.

Slack abdominal muscles are tightened before the loose skin is gentle stretched over the incision with any excess removed. The procedure itself takes about one to two hours and recovery time is approximately 1-3 weeks.

A tummy tuck is usually performed under a general anaesthetic as it requires a larger horizontal incision across the abdomen between the naval and the pubic bone, hidden along the bikini line. The incision length is greatly determined by the amount of skin need to be removed to meet the patient’s expectations. An additional incision around the belly button may be required.

The muscles underneath the abdominal wall are pull together into a tighter position, addressing any muscle separation that may have occurred as a result of pregnancy. Liposuction may also be used to help contour the stomach region, enhancing the patient’s figure. The loose skin is carefully stretched down, excess skin is removed and the incision is closed.

The procedure can take up to five hours and the recovery period is usually one month with a restriction on physical activity for a minimum of six weeks.

The difference in risks

Before undergoing any surgery (cosmetic or not) it’s important to understand the risks and discuss your expectations with your surgeon. All surgery carries risk, some more than others.

In the case of the mini tuck verses a tummy tuck, the risks are less as the surgery is less invasive. Some of the short term side effects that may be experienced are swelling and discomfort, which is easily controlled with medication. Other rare, long term risks to be aware of are numbness, bleeding and infection.

The swelling and discomfort experienced after a tummy tuck can last for several weeks, but again this can be managed with medication. Tiredness, bruising and slight numbness are common side effects of the surgery.  Potential, but rare complications include infection, bleeding and blood clots.

For healthy patients, complications are very rare in both surgeries.  To minimise any risks, it’s important to be open and honest with your surgeon about your medical history including any medication or health conditions before undergoing the surgery.

Which procedure is right for you?

A traditional tummy tuck procedure is best suited for people who are struggling to get rid of large fat deposits and excess abdominal skin through diet and exercise. The surgery is particularly helpful for women who are suffering from stretched or separated abdominal muscles and excess sagging skin as a result of pregnancy.

Individuals who have lost a large amount of weight and have excess skin which won’t return back to normal, or older patients with reduced skin elasticity can also benefit from a tummy tuck procedure.

A mini tummy tuck is more suited to people experiencing minor sagging and only a slight protrusion of the abdomen. Individuals who have slight sagging of skin due to pregnancy or aging may benefit from this procedure. Those who are want to sculpt their body further may also find a mini tummy tuck is right treatment for them.

Here’s a helpful checklist to see if you’re the right candidate for a mini tummy tuck:

  • You’re in good health
  • Your body weight has remained stable for more than 6months
  • You’re approximately 10% of ideal body weight
  • You adhere to a healthy diet and exercise regularly
  • Your skin elasticity and tone is good
  • Your expectations are realistic
  • Your emotionally fit for cosmetic treatment
  • You understand the rights of surgery

It’s important to note, neither the mini tummy tuck or tummy tuck procedures are designed as a weight loss treatment. Individuals planning to continue losing weight after the surgery should consider postponing the treatment. Women who are considering future pregnancies are also advised to hold of undergoing the procedure, as there is a risk the abdominal muscles may separate or loosen again during pregnancy.

Both the mini tummy tuck and the traditional tummy tuck have the potential to increase your self-confidence by removing excessive skin and getting rid of the stubborn protrusion of the tummy.  Deciding on which surgery is right for you will ultimately depend on your expectations.

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