ABDOMINOPLASTY: FULL, MINI & EXTENDED WHAT IS RIGHT FOR YOU?
Abdominoplasty Dubai | 1 October 2021
A flat, sleek abdomen is a very common desire, and many people put a lot of effort into achieving it. Although there are some who can achieve it through diet and exercise, there are others for whom these will never be enough. Whether because of pregnancy, a major weight loss, or simply because of genetics, some people will never have a flat belly, even when they’re at a healthy weight and are fit.
If you’re one of the many who have struggled with this issue, you may have considered a tummy tuck. Medically known as abdominoplasty, it’s one of the five most common cosmetic surgical procedures performed. (Liposuction is not the same as a tummy tuck, although these can sometimes be performed together.) There are a few different options, and which one is right for you depends on your particular situation and your goals for your appearance. What are the advantages and disadvantages of the various options? How can you choose which type of tummy tuck is right for you?
FULL OR CLASSIC TUMMY TUCKS
Classic tummy tucks (which are also referred to as full tummy tucks) are utilized when individuals want to address the sections above and below their belly button, the full length of the abdominal wall. Patients who opt for a full tummy tuck often want to resolve general roundness and excess skin. With this procedure, one horizontal or u-shape incision, and possibly a second incision, are made above the pubic area and the belly button, respectively, to remove excess skin and tighten muscle. Full tummy tucks present the most natural-looking outcome, and can include a much firmer abdomen.
MINI TUMMY TUCKS
Mini tummy tucks involve less extensive incisions compared to a full tummy tuck and are intended to improve only the lower belly, below the patient’s belly button. This makes the procedure ideal for people who want to rid their bellies of a “pooch”, tiny bulge or stretch marks in the lower abdominal region only. Plastic surgeons can tighten loose muscles through a single low horizontal incision (typically without an incision around the belly button), and remove excess lower abdominal skin, resulting in a firmer, smoother lower belly.
EXTENDED TUMMY TUCK
The extended tummy tuck is considered when the goals of the procedure are to address the abdomen while simultaneously targeting the flanks and hips. To perform this procedure, the surgeon extends the horizontal incision more laterally as well as often incorporating a longer, vertical incision, which enables the surgeon to remove excess skin from the upper and lower abdominal region as well as the flanks while tightening the abdominal wall. This procedure is often ideal for those patients who have had multiple pregnancies or have lost lots of weight, either through diet and exercise or through weight loss surgery.
When it comes to a tummy tuck, I frequently explain to patients that the procedure is not a single surgical step, but rather a series of elements that can be combined to create customized results.
Whereas liposuction focuses solely on removing unwanted fat cells from the body – such as those that create a noticeable bulge at the belly – a tummy tuck is intended to create sleeker contours by addressing any number of conditions that keep the abdomen from looking toned.
Of course, stubborn pockets of fat are an obvious culprit when it comes to a larger waistline. While liposuction is frequently performed as a standalone procedure, it can also be used as part of a tummy tuck to help flatten the area. For this element, just about everything is handled as it would be for a solo lipo procedure: Fat is loosened and suctioned out via a cannula. The difference is that while liposuction requires small incisions that are later sutured closed, the incision made for a tummy tuck allows the surgeon access.
While extra fat causes bulges, extra skin creates a sagging pouch that can hide even well-defined abdominal muscles that sit beneath. The amount of excess tissue can range from a little to a lot (sometimes referred to as an “apron”). For a tummy tuck, the surgeon essentially re-drapes the abdominal skin so that it sits flat and tight, then trims away the excess. The incision and subsequent sutures for this element are typically hidden lower on the torso, where they can be covered by a swimsuit bottom or underwear.
Over time, belly muscles and their covering fascia can become loose. Whereas firm fascia holds everything in place – something like interlaced fingers keeping a water balloon from bulging outward – lax fascia allow the contents behind to bulge outward. Abdominal muscles can separate, giving the entire midsection a flabby look. During a tummy tuck, a surgeon can, if necessary, stitch these muscles and fascia back together to make everything tight and toned. In some cases, as with a mini-tummy tuck, this may be the primary element of the procedure. It is often chosen by moms who have a small bulge that sits below the belly button.
Belly button placement
Depending on the tummy tuck details, the surgeon may need to “relocate” the belly button, which involves creating a hole in the newly taut abdominal skin so the navel appears where it should to remain proportional with the rest of the body. This is called “umbilical translocation.” Following this, the body can be further contoured to encourage an hourglass shape by creating an “internal corset.” I have performed measurements that show narrowing of the waist and improvement of the waistline due to work at this stage.
When all of the steps are completed, the incision will be closed with either a special glue or absorbable sutures, such that the patient can take a shower the next day and there is no need to remove the sutures. Lasers can be used post-operatively to hasten the healing of scars. Also, use of Exparel injections numb the abdomen for three days, which can minimize pain for patients.
Since every patient has a unique body shape and size, as well as personal goals for an ultimate look, each tummy tuck is its own procedure. While there are commonalities between all such surgeries, no two will be exactly alike.
The most common form of tummy tuck involves a horizontal incision near the pubic hairline, so swimwear or undergarments can hide the resulting scar. If there is excess skin above the navel, an incision around the navel may be required. Sometimes, the surgery involves liposuction to remove pockets of excess fat from specific areas of the body. To reduce scar tissue and increase the speed of healing, I may utilize a harmonic scalpel that uses ultrasonic energy to perform parts of the tummy tuck surgery. Diastasis is a term used to describe the separation of the two-paired abdominal muscles that make up the front of the abdomen, which is often caused by multiple pregnancies. Sutures are used to tighten up the abdominal wall, resulting in a flatter stomach. Stronger, tighter abdomen muscles may also help reduce lower back pain.
A tummy tuck is not a shortcut to weight loss. But, it can be a powerfully transforming surgery and complements the impact that weight loss has on the abdominal profile. Many of our patients say they feel liberated after having a tummy tuck. They can wear a bikini again, or not wear a shirt or a top to cover up their loose stomach. They feel good about being outdoors running, swimming and golfing. It does a lot to boost a person’s confidence in their bodies and for many of my patients, it’s an incentive to maintain a healthy appearance for the rest of their lives. For some patients, tighter abdomen muscles may also help reduce lower back pain.
DETERMINE WHICH PROCEDURE IS RIGHT FOR YOU
Deciding which procedure is right for you will be contingent upon several factors and is best done in consultation with an experienced Plastic Surgeon. Some of them include your desired results, overall skin quality, body type and location of excess skin on the body. The amount of excess skin will also determine which procedure is most appropriate. Finally, any scarring attained from a previous cosmetic procedure or surgery can determine which kind of tuck the patient qualifies for.
You’ll want to figure out a time frame for your recovery so you have ample time to heal and can take a break from certain aspects of your life. Make sure you make the proper arrangements and are fully prepared for your recovery period.
Your drains will be left in for a few days after the surgery. You’ll be shown how to take care of and empty the drains. You’ll likely need to take an antibiotic and an anticoagulant while your drains are in place.
You’ll wear an abdominal binder for about six weeks. This helps to avoid fluid buildup and helps to support your abdomen.
While the recovery period is usually shorter for a mini-tummy tuck, you’ll still need to avoid strenuous activity for at least six weeks. This includes any vigorous exercise or heavy lifting.