What Is a Mini Tummy Tuck?

As we age, decreased collagen production results in skin with less elasticity.  A slower metabolism and loss of muscle mass can lead to an increase in the amount of fat pockets on the body resistant to diet and exercise.

For patients with multiple pregnancies or a history of extreme weight loss, distended stomach muscles combine with excess skin and stubborn trunk fat to yield a permanently altered waistline and poor core strength.

An abdominoplasty, or tummy tuck, is a surgical procedure that repairs damaged muscles and removes excess skin and fat, allowing patients to restore their youthful silhouette and improve their abdominal stability.

While effective, a tummy tuck is a very complex and invasive surgery that requires an appropriate recovery period. As such, many patients who could be helped by the aesthetic and medical benefits are hesitant to seek treatment.

For patients with only some excess skin or fat that is just below their belly button, a mini tummy tuck may be a good solution.

How is a mini tummy tuck different from a full tummy tuck?

It is a common misconception that the “mini” in a mini tummy tuck means that the main incision will be smaller than that of a full tummy tuck. This is inaccurate. Because the surgeon needs to be able to excise extra tissue, the incision size (hip to hip) is virtually the same for both procedures.

What differs between the two surgeries is the size of the treatment area and problems being addressed.

In a full tummy tuck, excess skin and fat are removed between the belly button and pubic bone, but muscles are tightened across the entire midline of the abdomen. An incision is also made around the belly button so it can be moved to a visually appealing location on the newly tightened abdomen.

In contrast, a mini tummy tuck only affects the skin. It is an excellent option for patients who do not need drastic repair done to the rectus muscles of the abdomen . The belly button is not relocated in a mini tummy tuck, so there is no umbilical incision. Often, liposuction is added to the procedure to improve abdominal contours.

Because a mini tummy tuck involves a smaller field of surgery, recovery is generally shorter and slightly easier than recovery from a full abdominoplasty.

What to expect during a mini tummy tuck surgery

A mini tummy tuck, which lasts between one and two hours, is usually an outpatient surgery that is performed under general anesthesia. The procedure often begins with the surgeon performing liposuction on the stomach and flanks, after which a football-shaped section of skin and fat will be removed from the lower abdomen.

The surgeon will then pull the abdominal skin taut and suture the incision closed with removable stitches.

Placement of post-surgical drains is sometimes used to remove excess fluid that often accumulates after major surgery. Drains can usually be removed within a week of surgery and the opening can be simply covered with a bandage or dressing.

What is recovery from a mini tummy tuck like?

While it is true that recovery from a mini tummy tuck is easier than recovery from a full tummy tuck, a mini abdominoplasty is still major surgery.

Most patients spend the first few postoperative days resting quietly at home. Unless their jobs require significant lifting, patients are usually able to return to work and fairly normal home life within two weeks. Additionally, compression garments should be worn according to the surgeon’s instructions to help speed healing and resolve swelling.

Lifting anything heavier than approximately ten pounds, as well as strenuous exercise, should be avoided for six weeks. Observing the full recovery period will help patients avoid complications and improve the likelihood of achieving the desired result.

Recovery most often occurs within six weeks, but it is normal to see results continue to improve over several months.

How much does a mini tummy tuck cost?

The cost of a mini tummy tuck varies significantly depending on geographic location, the surgeon’s level of expertise, the patient’s medical history, and whether other procedures are combined with the mini abdominoplasty.

Price is also not necessarily an indicator of the quality of surgery a patient will receive. Instead of choosing a surgeon based on their fee, patients should check to see if their surgeon is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Doctors who are board-certified by the ABPS have proven they have both the artistic and surgical skill needed for complex surgeries like mini tummy tucks.

A good surgeon will also have a well-established reputation for their patient-first bedside manner and a large portfolio of before-and-after photos that demonstrate their ability to get results.

Realistic expectations, realistic results

No one should undergo plastic surgery for someone else.

Because elective plastic surgery requires a significant investment of financial and emotional resources, patients need to have realistic expectations about the results they expect.

Plastic surgery does not create a perfect body. Rather, its goal is to deliver natural-looking results that help your body look its best.

If you are within fifteen pounds of your ideal body weight, are living a healthy lifestyle, and are confident that a mini tummy tuck is the right solution for you, visiting the American Board of Plastic Surgery website to find a surgeon is the first step toward meeting your physical and aesthetic goals.