Mini Tummy Tuck Results | SurgiSculpt
WANT THE CONFIDENCE THAT COMES WITH
KNOWING YOU LOOK YOUR BEST?
Author: Babak Moein, MD FACSBoard-certified,
Fellowship trained in Cosmetic Surgery

MINI TUMMY TUCK

Introduction to Mini Tummy Tuck

Procedure

The mini tummy tuck, or mini abdominoplasty, improves abdominal contour by liposuction of the abdominal fat, followed by the release and trimming of redundant abdominal skin. Trimming of excess skin is limited to the region below the belly button. Limitations of loose skin elimination result from maintaining the umbilical stalk attachment to the overlying abdominal skin. Since the umbilicus is not detached, access to loose skin above the belly button is unfeasible.  Excess skin extending above the belly button is a contraindication to a mini tummy tuck.

Table of Contents

This post may help you decide if a mini tummy tuck or a full tummy tuck is best for you.

The mini tuck can excise excess skin and fat deposits isolated to the lower abdomen. Due to the limited undermining employed in this abbreviated surgery or partial abdominoplasty procedure, the remainder of fat removal can be removed with liposuction. This is a major advantage of the mini tummy tuck cosmetic surgery over the more aggressive treatment, coined as a full tummy tuck. Specifically, the ability to undergo less extensive surgery provides patients the luxury of unveiling their underlying muscles and natural shadows, effectively treating patients who desire high definition results.

Mini Tummy Tuck Candidates

Ideal candidates for a mini tummy tuck will present with loose skin and stretch marks limited to the lower abdomen. They will describe only moderate weight loss following weight gain. They will not complain of a protruding abdominal wall that would necessitate muscle tightening. Nor would they require correction of excess skin over the upper abdomen. Patients are usually healthy and participate in regular exercise and will typically have a history limited to 1 to 2 pregnancies associated with minimal weight gain and present with minimal to moderate skin laxity. I'd like to point out that initial consultations performed at SurgiSculpt are intended to ensure that the treatment plan of a mini tummy tuck will best address your concerns.

Time Length of a Mini Tummy Tuck

1 to 2 hours of operative time, depending on your size and whether you need simultaneous liposuction.

Anesthesia

Local anesthesia or general anesthesia may be implemented.

Place of Treatment

Outpatient surgical suite.

Side Effects

Numbness is inevitable due to the separation of the skin and underlying fat from the abdominal muscles. Since the sensory nerves to the skin travel in the muscle layer before crossing over into the skin, they are unavoidably disrupted when elevating the skin over the lower abdomen. The nerves will regrow with time, and patients note the return of sensation on average by six months following surgery.

Hypertrophic scar: Hypertrophic scar refers to developing a thick scar on the skin. Based on the extent of redundant skin excised, patients may experience increased tightness surrounding skin incisions. They may expect a longer period for incision redness to dissipate (on average, 3 to 6 months). Treatments for hypertrophic scars include steroid injection, laser therapy, and silicone pressure therapy.

Risks

a) Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) may occur in the legs immediately following surgery. DVT refers to the clotting off of leg veins which may result in compromised blood flow return from the legs; a more critical consequence may develop from this clot if it is dislodged and travels to the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolus. Although rare, pulmonary emboli are the leading cause of death following surgery. DVTs are avoided with routine pneumatic compression boots during surgery and by encouraging patients to walk as soon as possible following surgery.

b) Hematoma: Hematoma refers to the accumulation of blood in the early postoperative period, which pools into a pocket. Hematomas provide a perfect medium for harboring the growth of bacteria. So if you have an infection anywhere in your body, the bacteria will travel through the bloodstream and grow in the hematoma; this can lead to an infection and an open wound. To avoid a hematoma, a single drain is placed in surgery so that any fluid accumulation can be drained. Drains are usually kept in place for one week.

c) Seroma: Seroma formation refers to the accumulation of plasma fluid in pockets created by the surgical elevation of the soft tissue and the disruption of lymphatic vessels. This fluid accumulates due to a low blood count and protein deficiency, which may be present in tummy tuck patients. This fluid can be a nuisance to patients requiring several aspirations in the office before their resolution. More importantly, these plasma fluid pockets may harbor bacterial growth and result in a clinical infection. A single drain is placed in surgery that effectively prevents seroma formation. Consequently, seromas are more likely to occur following the premature removal of drains.

d) Infection: An infection can occur after mini tummy tuck surgery. The infection will disrupt the incision line and leave the patient with an open wound. Prolonged antibiotics are required to fight the infection and prevent further infection extension. Infections are usually avoided by using drains which will prevent hematoma formation. In addition, infections are less likely in patients who don't smoke cigarettes or in patients who quit smoking for at least one month before surgery.

e) Skin edge death/open wound: The skin incision can be disrupted if the skin edge dies or if there is a local infection. Counseling patients best avoid this complication of the terrible consequences of nicotine in cigarettes. Nicotine will clog all the small vessels found in the skin, which are critical for healing the skin's edge. Mini tummy tuck patients must quit smoking for at least one month before surgery. In addition, uncontrolled diabetes can lead to the undesired sloughing of the skin. Diabetic patients are urged to be vigilant about controlling their blood sugar levels before surgery. Patients who develop an open wound require prolonged local wound care with frequent dressing changes. Unfortunately, any delays in healing the skin edges will compromise your aesthetic outcome.

f) Asymmetry in abdominal contour can occur and is secondary to several factors, including 1) Uneven skin redundancy that is hopefully improved following redraping, trimming, and repair; 2) Stretch marks are areas of the skin that have lost their elasticity and are prone to re-stretching. The surgeon attempts to remove as many of the stretch marks as possible. However, if there are stretch marks left and they are uneven (more on one side than the other), this will result in asymmetric restretching of the skin and a resultant asymmetric contour. Asymmetry in contour can usually be repaired with an in-office minor revision.

Recovery

The recovery period for a mini tummy tuck can be as quick as one week following surgery depending on how much excess skin is removed. The longer the incision, the longer the recovery time. Remember that loose muscles are a contraindication to a mini tummy tuck. By avoiding any muscle work and limiting surgery to the elimination of extra skin, this surgical procedure is considered a more tolerable cosmetic procedure than the full tummy tuck. Patients may return to full physical activity within two to three weeks following surgery. Heavy lifting with strenuous activity should be avoided for approximately one month following surgery.

Duration of Results

As long as patients watch their diet and keep an active lifestyle, they can enjoy a lifetime of an aesthetically pleasing abdominal contour and silhouette. A healthy diet and maintaining a stable weight will ensure that results are sustained long-term.

MINI TUMMY TUCK FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

The traditional tummy tuck involves tightening the abdominal muscles, which are most painful to the patient in the postoperative period. In contrast, the mini tummy tuck avoids tightening the muscle, instead focusing on optimizing the contouring of the overlying skin and soft tissues. The benefit of the standard mini tummy tuck is that you can recuperate within 1 to 2 weeks.

Separation of the abdominal skin and underlying fat from the abdominal muscles is limited during mini tummy tuck surgery. As such, prior abdominal surgeries are not a contraindication to mini tummy tuck surgery. A physician evaluation can determine if prior abdominal scars would jeopardize a mini tummy tuck procedure.

Temporary sensory loss of the abdominal skin results from surgery requiring elevation of the skin and underlying fat from the abdominal muscles. This is because sensory nerves of the abdominal skin, which travel around the torso within the muscle layers before penetrating the skin from beneath, are disrupted during the skin elevation. Since undermining of the abdominal skin is limited during mini tummy tuck surgery, sensory loss is limited.

Liposuction of the lateral flanks is routinely performed during a mini tummy tuck procedure. Although the mini tummy tuck procedure results in the narrowing of the mid-waist due to the direction of skin re-draping, the lower waist (love handles) is also liposuctioned to improve the silhouette of the torso.

The mini tummy tuck abdominal incision is placed over the pubic area (or below previous C-section incisions) and extends laterally following the bikini line. The placement of the incision may be altered by the presence of prior abdominal scars. Typically, patients are asked to wear their favorite underwear/bikini so that the incisions can be designed to be camouflaged underneath the garment. Scarring is avoided by minimizing the tension on the incision line; this is done by repairing the incision line in multiple layers, including repair of the superficial fascial system. This fascia refers to a thin, yet tough layer that is found beneath the underlying skin which when reattached during the skin closure will reduce the tension on the skin incision. Reducing the tension on the skin incision will ultimately result in an aesthetically pleasing scar line.

To determine if you are a good candidate, your mini tummy tuck consultation will require an evaluation of several items. First, the surgeon must assess the degree of skin redundancy or flaccidity. This will determine the extent of the lateral skin incisions and the degree of skin and underlying fat undermining. Next, attention must be given to the extent of stretch marks. The patient is considered an ideal candidate for a mini tummy tuck when limited to below the belly button. When the stretch marks extend above the belly button, a standard tummy tuck is needed to release the belly button so that the skin above it may be removed. Finally, the abdominal muscle must be evaluated to gauge not only the tone of the muscle but also to rule out any hernias (holes or defects in the muscle). If the patient demonstrates poor abdominal tone or the presence of a hernia, then a standard tummy tuck is needed to gain access to the muscles to repair/tighten the muscles.

The mini tummy tuck procedure involves the accurate marking of the abdominal area. While waiting in the preoperative area, the patient is asked to stand so that skin redundancy or flaccidity and areas of adiposity can be evaluated, and the patient's incision line can be marked. After induction of anesthesia, the entire abdomen is infiltrated with tumescent solution, and liposuction is performed; an abdominal incision is made down to the muscle, and the abdominal skin and underlying fat are separated from the muscle up to the belly button. The redundant skin is then re-draped, trimmed, and repaired. A small drain is placed to remove any blood oozing during the first week following surgery. Contour garments are fitted to the patient following surgery so that the new abdomen can mold to the desired aesthetic shape.

On your initial visit, the surgeon will evaluate your health status, determine the amount of skin redundancy and excess adiposity, and check your blood work. If you are a smoker, you should quit for one month before mini tummy tuck surgery to allow your body adequate time to rid itself of any residual nicotine. Nicotine in your system results in the shutting off small blood vessels which carry nutrients to the skin; this event could be detrimental to your mini tummy tuck surgery resulting in an abdominal wound requiring weeks to heal.

Since your surgery will require general anesthesia, you must take several precautions before surgery. First, you must avoid eating and drinking after midnight on the day before surgery. This precaution ensures that your stomach is clear of digested foods that could potentially be aspirated and contaminate your lungs during induction of anesthesia. Since you will have anesthetic medications administered throughout the case, you will remain groggy for some time and require a ride to and from the surgery center if you decide not to commit to an overnight stay on the premises. You should choose a conscientious caretaker who can spend the first few nights with you. As an alternative, patients may choose to have their mini tummy tuck performed with an epidural, minimizing grogginess but still requiring caretaker supervision.

Following mini tummy tuck surgery, patients expect an improved abdominal contour, a more curvaceous silhouette, and a flat and firm abdomen. As your swelling resolves and you stop wearing your girdle, you will buy a new wardrobe to fit your trim figure.

Since your surgery will require general and epidural anesthesia, it must be performed in an operating room that is part of a hospital institution or outpatient surgery center. Patients may also be operated on in an in-house office-based operating room. Still, it is of utmost importance for patients to ensure that the office facility has been accredited by a surgical accreditation body such as AAAASF.

Since your surgery involves the removal of significant amounts of skin, you will require general and epidural anesthesia. This is because skin possesses many sensory nerves (pain fibers) that would be triggered during the trimming of the redundant skin; general anesthesia ensures that you do not sense the firing of pain fibers. Infrequently, epidural anesthesia may be administered to provide numbness to the lower abdomen. This will minimize the general anesthesia administered and help you have a smoother postoperative recovery with a lower propensity for nausea and vomiting.

When you wake up from anesthesia, expect to find a tight garment around your abdomen. Expect to wear this girdle for approximately 1 to 2 weeks! Although you will feel significant tightness, you are encouraged to walk as soon as possible to minimize the risk of developing blood clots in your legs. Your caretaker will show you how to take care of your single drain, which will remove any blood/lymphatic fluid collection in the early postoperative period. These drains are usually removed by one week following surgery. After the first week, you will feel more energetic and desire to return to your routine daily activities.

Patients who undergo a standard mini tummy tuck expect to return to work as early as 1 to 2 weeks following surgery. The mini tuck uses a shorter incision and less undermining than the standard tummy tuck surgery. It avoids detaching the belly button, which results in a shorter recovery period.

Several side effects have been associated with mini tummy tuck surgery, and these include:

a) Numbness: Numbness is inevitable due to the separation of the skin and underlying fat from the abdominal muscles. Since the sensory nerves to the skin travel in the muscle layer before crossing over into the skin, they are unavoidably disrupted when elevating the skin and underlying fat off of the muscle. However, numbness following mini tummy tuck surgery is minimized as the undermining is limited to below the belly button.

b) Hypertrophic scar: Hypertrophic scar refers to developing a thick scar on the skin. The scarring degree depends on the tightness or tension along the incision line closure. Since the degree of undermining and amount of tissue removal is limited during mini tummy tuck surgery, patients do not typically experience poor scarring. In the event that scarring is observed, several postoperative scar management treatments are available, including steroid injection, laser therapy, and silicone pressure therapy.

a) Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) may occur in the legs immediately following any surgery. DVT refers to the clotting off of leg veins which may result in compromised blood flow return from the legs; a more critical consequence may develop from this clot if it is dislodged and travels to the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolus. Although rare, pulmonary emboli are the leading cause of death following surgery. DVTs are avoided with routine pneumatic compression boots during surgery and by encouraging patients to walk as soon as possible following surgery.

b) Hematoma: Hematoma refers to the accumulation of blood in the early postoperative period, which pools into a pocket. Hematomas provide a perfect medium for harboring the growth of bacteria. So if you have an infection anywhere in your body, the bacteria will travel through the bloodstream and grow in the hematoma; this can lead to an infection and an open wound. To avoid a hematoma, a single drain is placed in surgery to remove any fluid accumulation. Drains are usually kept in place for 1 week.

c) Seroma: Seroma formation refers to the accumulation of plasma fluid in pockets created by the surgical elevation of the soft tissue and the disruption of lymphatic vessels. This fluid accumulates due to a low blood count and protein deficiency, which may be present in mini tummy tuck patients. This fluid can be a nuisance to patients requiring several aspirations in the office before their resolution. More importantly, these plasma fluid pockets may harbor bacterial growth and result in a clinical infection. A single drain that is placed in surgery is very effective in preventing seroma formation.

d) Infection: An infection can occur after mini tummy tuck surgery. The infection will disrupt the incision line and may leave the patient with an open wound. Prolonged antibiotics are required to fight the infection and prevent further infection extension. Infections are usually avoided by using a single drain to prevent hematoma formation. In addition, infections are less likely in patients who don't smoke cigarettes or in patients who quit smoking for at least one month before surgery.

e) Skin edge death/open wound: The skin incision can be disrupted if the skin edge dies or if there is a local infection. Counseling patients best avoid this complication of the terrible consequences of nicotine in cigarettes. Nicotine will clog all the small vessels found in the skin, which are critical for healing the skin's edge. Mini tummy tuck patients must quit smoking for one month before surgery. In addition, uncontrolled diabetes can lead to the undesired sloughing of the skin. Diabetic patients are urged to be vigilant about controlling their blood sugar levels before surgery. Patients who develop an open wound will require prolonged local wound care with frequent dressing changes. Unfortunately, any delays in healing the skin edges will compromise your aesthetic outcome.

f) Asymmetry in abdominal contour can occur and is secondary to several factors, including 1) Uneven skin redundancy that is hopefully improved following redraping, trimming, and repair; 2) Stretch marks are areas of the skin that have lost their elasticity and are prone to re-stretching. The surgeon attempts to remove as many of the stretch marks as possible below the belly button. However, if stretch marks extend above the belly button, a standard tummy tuck surgery is better for you. If stretch marks are left and uneven (more on one side than the other), this will result in asymmetric restretching of the skin and a resultant asymmetric contour. Asymmetry in contour can usually be repaired with a revision in the office.

MINI TUMMY TUCK PATIENT-SPECIFIC QUESTIONS:

Women undergo several changes around their bellies during pregnancy that are undesirable. Several unwanted changes are observed when the tummy expands to accommodate a growing baby. First, the muscles covering the belly and overlying the internal organs expand and stretch around the baby. Following multiple pregnancies, the muscles may fail to shrink back to their pre-pregnancy state. This results in a bloated look that persists despite moms returning to their pre-pregnancy weight. In addition, women may notice stretch marks extending up to and around the belly button. Fortunately, moms who have had 1 or 2 pregnancies only and who have not gained excessive weight may avoid the permanent stretching of the muscles and stretch marks extending above the belly button; a Mini tummy tuck is ideal for these moms who demonstrate minimal to moderate post-partum changes.

Women who haven't had children may demonstrate changes in their tummies that mimic pregnancy if they experience weight gain. These changes result in increased fatty deposition of the abdomen and abdominal girth but avoidance of extensive stretch marks and permanent stretching of the tummy muscles. These women are ideal candidates for a mini tummy tuck surgery, which can address redundant skin. A mini tummy tuck is ideal because it improves abdominal contour without tightening abdominal muscles.

A mini tummy tuck involves making a low incision over the tummy positioned to fall below the bikini line. The extent of redundant skin present chooses the incision length. If redundant skin extends to the flanks, i.e., the love handles, the incision line must be made longer to eliminate the excess. Before making this incision, the entire abdomen is sculpted using high definition liposuction of the upper, middle, and lower abdomen. Next, the lower abdominal incision is completed, and the redundant abdominal skin and fat elevation are limited to below the belly button. Redundant lower abdominal skin is removed, and the abdominal incision is repaired.

The key difference between these two procedures is limiting the surgical dissection of the abdomen, which results in shorter surgical time, quicker recovery, minimal pain, and improved incision line healing.

An advantage of the mini tummy tuck surgery is minimal manipulation of the belly button. First, since the dissection is limited to below the belly button, the belly button does not require to be released or remade. Second, by pulling the abdominal skin, the belly button shape is often improved from a more aged horizontally appearing shape to a more tightened vertical shape. Finally, patients may notice the transposition of their belly button by less than a centimeter inferiorly, which creates an illusion of a youthful abdomen.

Unfortunately, many surgeons perform this procedure without attention to recreating a feminine silhouette. Although this procedure involves elevating, redraping, and trimming the redundant belly fat and skin, the vector of pull when redraping the skin and limiting the degree of lateral skin elevation is critical to creating a feminine silhouette. Specifically, the vector of pull should be in a medial oblique direction rather than directly inferior. In addition, by minimizing the skin elevation laterally, the pull created when redraping the skin will pull in the flanks, i.e., love handles.

To optimize healing and minimize the inferior tummy surgical incision line, the redraped skin is repaired to eliminate unnecessary tension. First, the mini tummy tuck surgery minimizes post-surgical tension of the incision line closure and subsequent scars by limiting undermining and removing redundancies. Furthermore, a special stitch of an internal “fascial” layer that is tough, like a “tendon,” relieves the skin closure tension. The surgical incision line healing is optimized by utilizing multiple layers to repair the trimmed and redraped skin. Finally, the suture utilized for skin closure today is far superior to those utilized in the past decade. The internal sutures utilized today are retained for approximately three months, thus allowing for near-complete healing of the incision line before being absorbed. Furthermore, maintaining external glue and tape for one month before removal enhances incision line healing. Finally, Intense Pulse lasers are utilized in our armamentarium to treat the surgical incision lines as early as four weeks following surgery after removing the external tape and glue.

HOW OUR PATIENTS FEEL ABOUT US:

The best experience

I had an incredible experience with SurgiSculpt. At my first appointment when I was deciding what I wanted done, he listened to everything I had to say and was very kind and made me feel comfortable. His staff is wonderful and warm and welcoming every time you come into the office. I couldn't be happier with my results, I look better than I could have expected.

I could not be happier...

I was debating whether to have a procedure done and had even made appointments with a few different Cosmetic Surgeons. I never felt at ease until I met with SurgiSculpt. He genuinely made me feel comfortable and answered all my questions. I never felt pressured for any extra procedures (a problem at some other offices I visited). It has been a year now since SurgiSculpt did the procedure and I could not be happier... The results were better than I expected... The care I received prior and post the procedure have been better than any other experience I have had. I would recommend SurgiSculpt to anyone interested in having a procedure done. He is an amazing doctor and I am definitely going to go back.

My tummy tuck results are amazing...

Without a doubt best doctor and staff I have ever encountered! My tummy tuck results are amazing, I have my confidence back and feel great, SurgiSculpt is the best doctor I have seen in my life, in addition to his medical expertise, he is kind, patient, and extremely caring. Every staff member is professional, friendly and patient. I was very nervous about the procedure but SurgiSculpt professional, kind demeanor got me through it, his PA James was very knowledgeable, kind and professional. I was referred to him by my dermatologist to remove some lipomas on my back and feel so fortunate for that referral because that really changed my life. I look forward to enjoying the rest of my life feeling and looking my best, I do not hesitate in highly recommending SurgiSculpt...

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