In my 30 years as a practicing, board-certified plastic surgeon I’ve performed more of two surgical procedures than any others: breast augmentation and tummy tuck. This is probably illustrative of much more than our cultural obsession with pert breasts and flat tummies (I’m looking at you Sports Illustrated Swimsuit magazine!). Notably, these two areas of a female body bear the brunt of childbearing and genetics. A woman’s desire to surgically enhance them is often part of her reclaiming her “non-mom” self. I love working with my patients on their journeys of transformation and rediscovery.
This month I’d like to delve into the Tummy Tuck procedure as it’s one of the rock-star “transformation” surgeries. Check out our before/after gallery to see for yourself. What you won’t see in the pictures, however, is the behind-the-scenes details. Did you know that there are actually three different types of tummy tucks? Each one provides a little something different and it’s only in our one-on-one consultation that I can determine what’s right for you.
Type 1: The “mini”
The mini tummy tuck is great for that “little pouch” type of issue in a stomach. The upper abdomen/midriff skin remains relatively tight in comparison. This typically looks like period bloating but it’s soft and wobbly and prevents you from buttoning your jeans. A situation in which we often see this pouch is the Mom who has a C-section and is forever after trying to tuck that “ledge” into her jeans after healing. This pouch/ledge also hides any chance of lower abdominal muscles appearing no matter how many crunches you do. The picture below illustrates how it is performed. The surgery is performed below the belly button, which is not moved with this operation. Loose skin and fat are removed and, if required, some minor muscle tightening can be performed. The incision lies low, beneath the bikini line.
Type 2: The “full”, with or without muscle tightening
The full tummy tuck is utilized when there is far looser skin and fat, both above and below the belly button. I typically use this procedure on women who have had multiple children (or twin pregnancies) and their stomachs just didn’t bounce back from the years of stretching. The signature move with this procedure is the full abdominal skin elevation up to the breast bone in conjunction with a large amount of skin removal, including most of the skin from the belly button and below. The belly button is repositioned and often made smaller. These maneuvers help to regain an overall flatness to the entire abdominal area. If there has been separation of the underlying muscles (recti diastasis) it can be corrected with a series of sutures based on each patient’s particular anatomy and needs. This finishing detail accentuates the waist line, gives the appearance of a longer toro and restores proportion to a lady’s shape.
Type 3: Liposuction
Many women who have excess abdominal fat due to their genes or individual anatomy are great candidates for liposuction of the stomach. This is terrific for younger women who haven’t had children, have firm tight skin and don’t have any issues with their underlying muscle structure. Of course, liposuction can also be added onto a tummy tuck procedure to address any love handles or muffin top. And it can be performed circumferentially (back and front) to address extra fullness in the hips, “back” fat and bra rolls.
The complexity of options may seem overwhelming but that’s why I spend so much time with my patients in consultation, understanding their goals and history – weight gain/loss, pregnancies, workout history, etc. – so that I can be sure to provide the best surgical or non-surgical option to get you the results you’ll love and that will last.