Would you like a flat stomach in time for summer?

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

Tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) and mini tummy tuck are two cosmetic procedures that aim to reduce flabby skin and fatty tissue around the midsection. But how do you decide which procedure will give you the desired result?

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

An abdominoplasty on the other hand, is more invasive as it involves the middle and lower abdomen, may include liposuction, and can remove a greater amount of excess skin and fat.

Since the traditional tummy tuck addresses the entire abdomen, it’s more suited for those who had previously suffered obesity, had multiple pregnancies, or are experiencing excessive skin laxity.

A mini tummy tuck is better suited for those patients who are in reasonable shape but are struggling to shed some of the fat cells, have minor skin laxity in the lower abdomen, and are looking for body contouring as part of the mini tummy tuck surgery.

Both the mini tummy tuck and tummy tuck may be part of the mommy-makeover which may include breast augmentation, breast lift or breast reduction.

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

The difference in procedures

A mini tummy tuck is a cosmetic surgery 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, a liposuction procedure may be used to help refine the treated area.

Slack abdominal muscles are tightened before the loose skin is gently 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 anaesthesia 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 during abdominoplasty is determined by the amount of skin that needs to be removed to meet the patient’s expectations and desired results. Your doctor may have to make an additional incision around the belly button.

The muscles underneath the abdominal wall are pulled 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 know the risks, understand the recovery process and discuss your expectations with your doctor. All surgery carries risk, some more than others.

The risks associated with the mini tuck are considerably less than with the full tummy tuck because the mini is much less invasive. Some of the short term side-effects that may be experienced are swelling and discomfort in the midsection, which is easily controlled with medication. Other rare, long-term risks typical of surgical procedures 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 cosmetic surgery.  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 doctor about your medical history, including any medication or health conditions before undergoing the any plastic 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, have excess skin that 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 mild skin sagging 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
  • You have good skin tone and elasticity
  • You have realistic expectations
  • You understand the rights of surgery

It’s important to note that 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 get rid of the stubborn protrusion of the tummy.  Deciding on which surgery is right for you will ultimately depend on your expectations.