The 4 Main Differences between a Mini and Full Tummy Tuck

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Following significant weight loss or changes in the body after pregnancy, the skin and muscles of the belly can remain loose and look stretched out. Unlike extra weight, these problems can’t be corrected with diet or exercise. Instead, cosmetic surgery often offers the most effective solution. While either a full abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) or a mini tummy tuck (sometimes called a partial abdominoplasty) can help improve the contours of your midsection, there are four definitive differences between these two procedures.

  1. Incision Length

    One of the most noticeable differences between a full and mini tummy tuck is the length of the initial incision. A full tummy tuck incision typically runs all the way from him to hip, while a mini tummy tuck uses a shorter incision, even though the placement is about the same.

    Although the idea of a smaller scar is understandably appealing to many patients, remember that a shorter incision also means more limited access during surgery, which could affect the level of correction your tummy tuck surgeon is able to achieve.

  2. Possible Correction Level

    A full tummy tuck pulls the skin firm again and repairs the abdominal muscles from the ribs all the way down to the pubis. For this reason, patients who have skin or muscle laxity through the upper part of the abdomen will in almost all cases see better results with traditional tummy tuck surgery.

    A mini tummy tuck, on the other hand, tightens only the skin and muscle of the lower belly. Corrections begin just below the existing belly button. For any appearance concerns above the navel, the mini tuck simply isn’t comprehensive enough. However, patients whose skin and muscle laxity is limited to just the lower abdomen may be very happy with a mini tummy tuck, especially if their upper abdominal muscles are already in reasonably good shape.

  3. The Belly Button

    During a full tummy tuck, the existing belly button is removed and relocated. This is because the navel placement is pulled down much lower on the abdomen during surgery, and the resulting position wouldn’t look right if left as-is. Since a mini tummy tuck removes less skin overall, the placement of the natural belly button isn’t noticeably changed, and doesn’t need to be repositioned, removed or recreated. This also means there’s no risk of a scar around the belly button, as is sometimes seen in a traditional tummy tuck surgery.

  4. Faster Surgery and Recovery

    A mini tummy tuck is a shorter surgical process and has a more rapid recovery time because the surgery itself requires less correction. Many patients feel ready to return to work in about a week following a mini tuck, compared to 10 days or so for a full tummy tuck. Mini tummy tuck patients may also show more interest in resuming a moderate activity level sooner in the healing process compared to full tummy tuck patients. In either case, of course, it’s important to wait for your surgeon’s okay ahead of time.

Which Is Right for You?

So how can you decide whether to choose mini or full? The decision really comes down to your personal goals and whether you’re a better candidate for one option or the other. Men and women who need more significant correction will likely see a better outcome from a full tummy tuck instead.

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The 4 Main Differences between a Mini and Full Tummy Tuck
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The 4 Main Differences between a Mini and Full Tummy Tuck
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Updated for 2018 - Denver plastic surgeon Dr. Francesco Campanile explains the main differences between a full tummy tuck and a mini tummy tuck.
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Campanile Tummy Tuck
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