In patients who undergo a full tummy tuck, the incision is made from hip to hip just over the pubic area. This results in a scar line that is horizontal and can be hidden when wearing undergarments. It is commonly performed on women with significant skin folds after multiple pregnancies. This technique allows the surgeon access to a large portion of the abdomen while repositioning the belly button so that its placement appears natural. The internal abdominal muscles are secured for a firm, toned appearance. Liposuction is a common addition to this procedure to remove excess fat prior to skin tightening.
An alternative to the traditional technique is the mini tummy tuck, which is also known as a “Brazilian tummy tuck.” The difference is that ideally, the patients that undergo this procedure are already in relatively good shape with a healthy skin tone, but still have loose skin on the lower abdomen. Unlike the full tummy tuck, the belly button is unaffected, and the incision is smaller.
In cases when major skin tightening and body contouring is needed, an extended tummy tuck is recommended. This is a necessary technique for patients who have undergone a significant weight loss. It was developed after some patients noted that even after a full tummy tuck, the parts surrounding the abdomen still showed excessive folds of skin. The incision may extend around the navel, flank, and lower back depending on where skin tightening is necessary. Similar to a full tummy tuck, the belly button is repositioned.
A tummy tuck is done under general anesthesia. It is an outpatient procedure, but an overnight stay can be required specific to complex cases. As with any other surgery, abdominoplasty comes with risks, so it’s best to discuss any health conditions you have before surgery. After surgery, pain medications are provided and a compression garment is worn. The patient will need to rest for up to 48 hours. From then, it is recommended that patients make a concentrated effort to move around to help with blood circulation, as well as to reduce the risks of blood clot complications. Recovery may take up to 6 weeks.