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What is the Difference Between a Full Tummy Tuck and a “Mini” Tummy Tuck?

Dr. Miguel DelgadoBy Miguel Delgado, M.D.

Just the name “mini tummy tuck” sounds more appealing than a full tummy tuck. A mini tummy tuck infers less surgery time, a smaller incision thus a smaller scar and faster healing. Though the names are similar, the procedures are quite different, and they treat different issues.

Many of Miguel Delgado, M.D.’s patients ask if they qualify for a mini tummy tuck over a full tummy tuck. He explains to his patients that the “mini tummy tuck” is generally for women who have not had children, who have mild to moderate abdominal fat, have minimal skin laxity, and mild to moderate separation of the abdominal muscle. The abdominal muscles can only be tightened below the belly button as the belly button is not altered, and removal of stretch marks will be limited. The short incision is well hidden in the pubic hairline. Abdominal liposuction can be performed with the mini tummy tuck, and some tightening of the abdominal muscles can be achieved. However, once a mini-tummy tuck is performed, a full tummy tuck cannot be done in the future without risking the viability of the belly button. A good candidate should be within 10% of her ideal body weight.

The full tummy tuck is actually two operations, muscle repair and skin excision. The skin is stretched from above the belly button to the top of the pubic mound. If there are stretch marks above the belly button, they will end up just above the pubic mound. The incision for the full tummy tuck is also at or below the pubic hairline; however it extends from hip to hip and additionally it goes around the belly button. The ideal candidate for a full tummy tuck is a woman who has finished having children. This is not to say that tummy tucks are for women alone, it is a fairly popular procedure for men, especially if they have undergone a large amount of weight loss. Some men choose to have a tummy tuck procedure when they have another surgery such as gynecomastia, also known as male breast reduction.