What is the difference between a full tummy tuck and a mini tummy tuck?

A tummy tuck is one of the most transformative procedures in plastic surgery. It can give a woman her trim, toned body back after having children or significant weight loss.

Many patients wonder if they need the full tummy tuck procedure or if a less-invasive mini tummy tuck will make the changes they want. As with any plastic surgery, we always recommend the most effective and least invasive option that will meet the patient’s goals. Here, we’ll explain the difference between a full (or standard) tummy tuck and a mini tummy tuck and offer guidance on which one you should choose.

What Does a Tummy Tuck Do?

When a woman has children or a person loses a significant amount of weight, the abdominal area often undergoes a dramatic change. Skin that has stretched may not spring back. The abdominal muscles may weaken and separate. Stubborn pockets of fat can remain, even after weight loss.

Tummy tuck surgery addresses all of these problems. It removes excess skin to contour the abdomen. It reconnects and tightens abdominal muscles to flatten and tone the belly. With liposuction, it can remove bulges of fat. The effect is a rejuvenation of the midsection, restoring a younger and fitter appearance and a sculpted, trim waistline.

What’s the Difference Between a Full Tummy Tuck and a Mini Tummy Tuck?

A full tummy tuck and a mini tummy tuck both remove excess skin and tighten muscles to flatten the abdomen, but there are some distinctions between the two procedures.

  • A full tummy tuck tightens skin and muscles over the entire abdominal area, above and below the belly button. It repairs separated muscles in the mid and upper abdomen — the muscles you strengthen with leg lifts, crunches, or sit-ups. While the incision is made very low on the abdomen, just above the pubic area and running from hip to hip, skin is pulled down to tighten the entire abdomen. This may involve the creation of a new belly button. Liposuction may be used to remove excess fat over the full abdominal region. A full tummy tuck may also reduce the appearance of stretch marks.
  • A mini tummy tuck tightens and flattens the area below the belly button, and does not address loose skin or separated muscles in the middle or upper abdomen. The incision is typically 6 to 12 inches shorter than the incision made for a full tummy tuck.

How to Know Which Procedure Is Right for You

The two procedures address different types of abdominal looseness and bulging. A full tummy tuck corrects sagging skin and loose muscles over the entire abdomen, while a mini tummy tuck is for women whose loose skin, lax muscles, and fat deposits are concentrated below the belly button.

The choice, ultimately, comes down to your needs and goals for the procedure. If your concern is limited to loose skin and lax muscles in the area below your belly button, a mini tummy tuck may be the answer. If you could benefit from skin and muscle tightening both above and below your belly button, a full tummy tuck is likely to be the better option.

During your consultation, Dr. Bresnick will ask questions to understand your goals for the procedure. He will also conduct a physical examination and apply his judgment based on his training, experience, and aesthetic skills to recommend what he believes to be the best approach.

Learn More in an Expert Consultation

Dr. Stephen Bresnick in Encino, CA, is one of the most sought-after and extensively trained plastic surgeons in the Los Angeles area. He is a leader and expert in tummy tuck surgery, having lectured to hundreds of other plastic surgeons on the topic. Call us at (818) 981-3333 or contact us today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Bresnick.

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