Will a Mini Tummy Tuck Give Me Good Results? Also, What Should I Expect for Recovery Time Period? (photo)

I have had two consults and the plastic surgeons have quoted me on a mini tummy tuck. I don't care so much about removing all stretch marks. I want to repair my abdominal separation which causes my belly to protrude especially after eating...as seen here in picture taken late in day. I regularly exercise and watch what I eat. I weigh 102 lbs. (5'2"), but after giving birth to multiple children this is what my midsection looks like. Thank you for any advice or thoughts!

Doctor Answers 9

Will a Mini Tummy Tuck Give Me Good Results? Also, What Should I Expect for Recovery Time Period?

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NO! In my opinion you need a short scar FULL TT with muscle repair. Best to seek additional in person opinions. 

Minituck results

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You are definitely not a candidate for a mini tuck. Your bulging is significant and both above and below the umbilicus. You also need major muscle repair. You are an ideal candidate for full abdominoplasty. I am, frankly, stunned that a board certified plastic surgeon would offer you a mini tuck. Part of being a responsible surgeon is knowing what the patient needs rather than giving her what she thinks she wants and which will not produce an acceptable or worthwhile result.

Will a Mini Tummy Tuck Give Me Good Results?

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Only an occasional patient will benefit from a mini-TT. A mini only addresses problems in the lower abdomen, below the navel. An example would be a patient after a c-section who has a fairly solid abdominal wall and some skin overhanging the scar, but no upper skin excess. 

Your photos demonstrate the the entire abdominal wall must be treated to get a good result. Just doing the lower abdomen will create an imbalance--a tight lower and lax upper abdomen.

I would suggest getting more opinions. Thanks and best wishes.

Jourdan Gottlieb, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon

Will Mini Tummy Tuck Give Me Good Results ?

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Everyone would like to have the least surgery and the maximum results, but in this case, with the abdominal bulging extending above the belly button, and the bulging being your main concern, a mini tummy tuck would not solve the problem. 

The rectus fascia and the abdominal wall fascia need extensive infolding and tightening. This must extend from just below the breast bone (xiphoid) down to the pubic bone. 

You will get spectacular results from a regular abdominoplasty, but I think you would be severely disappointed by a mini procedure. In fact, I do not think a mini tummy tuck is indicated for your situation.

Recovery for a full abdominoplasty in my practice would be about one week. My patients do not need drains because I use quilting sutures and progressive tension sutures to sew the flap back down to the abdominal wall. 

This has so increased early mobility and decreased the risk of seroma, that I have had two patients in the last couple of months who got on a plane and flew on business trips 6-7 days after surgery!

Robert M. Lowen, MD
Mountain View Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 54 reviews

Mini tummy tuck vs full tummy tuck

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Based on your photos, you will need a full tummy tuck with short scar. Mini tummy tuck is very different from a full tummy tuck.  Most people who need mini tuck do not need much muscle tightening as performed during a full tummy tuck. The scar is placed in the bikini area. The navel is not usually cut or moved during mini tummy tuck.

In terms of recovery, it varies but the average patient will need about 1 week off from work or school. The cost of mini tuck depends on the experience of the plastic surgeon and If they are a plastic surgeon! Many doctor who try to perform min tuck are not plastic surgeon. You want to do your homework before you do the consult. Make sure your surgeon is a plastic surgeon!

Stanley Okoro, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 168 reviews

Minitummy Tuck or Tummy Tuck

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   Very few women are good candidates for a minitummy tuck.  In most women, I perform a short-scar tummy tuck.  This has the scar length of the minitummy tuck but I take out 2 or 3 times as much skin.   The muscle can be repaired at the same time, of course.  Find the board certified plastic surgeon with elite credentials who performs these procedures hundreds of times per year.

Mini or Full Tummy Tuck?

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Thank you for the question and pictures. Based on your pictures, I think you will do well with a full tummy tuck operation.  As you know, your abdominal wall muscles have spread significantly with pregnancies;  the entire length of the abdominal wall muscles must be “re-approximated” to achieve aesthetically pleasing results after the tummy tuck operation.

In my opinion, the mini tummy tuck is an  operation that  produces very limited results and is very rarely indicated. It involves a shorter incision but does not address the majority of the abdominal wall issues present for most patients who present consultation. For example, the area of skin excised is quite small. The abdominal wall musculature is addressed below the umbilicus leaving the upper number wall potentially lax. The appearance of the umbilicus is not necessarily addressed sufficiently.
For most patients who have had pregnancies and/or weight loss a full abdominoplasty is necessary to achieve the desired results. Of course, there are downsides (including a longer scar and probably a longer recovery time) but for most patients the benefits outweigh the downsides. It is not unusual to see patients who've had mini tummy tuck  surgery present for  revisionary surgery.

Some advice I give to my patients who are about to undergo tummy tuck surgery may be helpful to you:

1. Make sure you are doing the procedure for the right reasons (for yourself)  and that you have realistic expectations.  Be aware that an improvement in the “problem area” may not translate to an overall improvement in your life   situation.  You are bound to be disappointed with results of the procedure if your motivation for doing the surgery is not internally driven.

2. Time your surgery carefully; generally, it is not a good idea to have surgery done during or immediately after a stressful period in life (for example divorce or death of a loved one). The additional stress of surgery will undoubtedly be  more challenging to deal with if a patient's emotional reserves our already exhausted. Remember, that an improvement in your physical appearance will not translate to an improvement in your life situation.

3. If possible speak to patients who have undergone similar procedures and query them about the toughest times of their recovery period. Any practical hints previous patients can provide may be very helpful.

4. Make sure you are aware of potential complications that may arise how to reach your surgeon if necessary.
5. Make sure you have a strong and patient support system (several people if possible) in place who have time/patience to take care of you. Arrange for professional nursing if any doubt exists regarding the availability and/or stamina  of your caretakers.

6. Be patient with the healing process, understanding that it will take several weeks to months to feel “normal” again. It may also take many months/year to see the end results of your surgery.

7. Be prepared to distract your mind with things of interest such as books, magazines, and movies.

8. Expect less of yourself; do not go back to work, school or chores too early and let others take care of you (for a change).

9. Pick your surgeon carefully (a well experienced board-certified plastic surgeon) and trust in his/her advice. Keep in close communication with your surgeon and do not hesitate to communicate questions/concerns and the   emotional swings that you may experience.

10. Resume all medications that you were using preoperatively when cleared by your plastic surgeon and stop the use of narcotics and sedatives as soon as feasible after surgery.

11. Keep in mind the end results as you go through the tougher emotional times after your surgery.
I hope this helps.

 Best wishes.

Mini-tummy tuck

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Your photos show that you need what I call a modified tummy tuck, ie

  • incision low in the pubis about 8 inches long,
  • lifting the tummy skin to the ribs, freeing skin from the belly button,
  • rib-to-pubis repair of stretched abdominal muscle (rectus abdominis), 
  • a little skin removal, little or no liposuction, new navel opening.
  • To me a full tummy tuck means 2)+ inch hip-to-hip incision, liposuction, big skin removed plus muscle repair. But the plan, not its name, is the key.
  • See a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon who gives you a written plan that includes these steps. Hope this helps!

A full tummy tuck would be a better option.

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Your main issue is a diastasis (seperation and widening of your abdominal muscles). The main focus of your procedure should focus on tightenting these muscles as much as possible. A mini tummy tuck would ONLY be an option if undermining was performed up to your rib cage to tighten the muscles.  Otherwise, a full tummy tuck would be a better option. Good Luck!

David Rankin, MD
Jupiter Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 168 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.