✔ Do you have a lot of excess skin around the tummy?
✔ Did your last pregnancy leave your tummy hanging down like an apron?
If your condition is too serious for a traditional liposuction job, then maybe you need a tummy tuck.
Depending on the amount of fats and loose skin you have, you may opt for either of three options:
1. VASER® Liposelection
3. Full tummy tuck
How do I decide which is for me?
Usually, our doctor will advise you on the best solution for you during the consultation. As a brief guide for understanding, the general rules are laid out below:
VASER® Liposelection – If your skin is in good condition, and has minimal stretch marks, then doing just liposelection would be sufficient to reduce the excess bulk around the tummy. Liposelection is reserved only for fat deposits which do not respond to normal means of fat loss like dieting and exercise.
Mini Tummy Tuck – If your skin is excessive, has stretch marks, and scars (e.g. cesarean section), the best combination for you may be to do a mini tuck. This involves removing some of the loose skin, and doing liposuction to remove the excess fats. This combination results in lower downtime, and is called a “mini-tuck”. The advantage of a mini-tuck is that poorly healed scars and stretch marks, etc can be removed by this procedure.
Full Tummy Tuck – If the condition of your skin and muscles is really lax, then the most invasive option would be to do a full tummy tuck. This procedure has more downtime of up to 3-6 weeks, and involves removal of more skin and tightening of more muscle than a mini-tuck. We usually only do this in very severe cases nowadays.
How does it work?
During a tummy tuck, an elliptical shaped incision will be made to remove the excess skin and any scars in that area. The muscles are stitched together to tighten them (this is called plication). In the case of a mini tuck, liposuction is done on the upper abdomen and love handles area to reduce the overall bulk of fats.
Finally, the skin is stitched together, leaving a scar that is hidden in the panty line.
After the tummy tuck, you will need to wear a compression garment and dressings. The average downtime varies from 2 – 3 weeks for a mini-tuck, to 3 – 6 weeks for a full tummy tuck.
How to decide between a full tummy tuck and a mini-tuck?
We tend to do more mini-tucks than full tummy tucks for the following reasons:
Full tummy tuck
1. A full tuck is a major operation, usually requiring hospitalization for a few nights. Many of our patients want lesser surgery and in particular, a shorter recovery period. Most of our patients in particular need minimal down time and a quick, predictable recovery;
2. The ability to remove fat in a full tuck is limited. Although the fat below the belly button can be treated, the fat above the belly button cannot without possibly affecting the blood supply. Similarly the love handle area is often problematic;
3. Scar load – A full tummy tuck leaves a lot of scar. The scar from hip to hip, although it is well sited in a natural body line and usually positioned low and in the panty line, is still a long scar. The scar around the belly button in a full tummy tuck is particularly unattractive.
Mini tummy tuck
With a mini tuck, we find less of these problems. The biggest advantage is that the scars are much smaller, and there is no scar around the belly button. In addition, during the mini tuck, we are able to remove fats around the love handles and also fat in upper abdomen by liposuction. The downside of the mini tuck is that the belly button is pulled lower, and becomes vertically elongated, instead of previously horizontally elongated. We find that most patients do not mind this. The other disadvantage is that less skin can be removed, hence not all stretch marks can be reduced. Also, lesser muscle tightening can be achieved.
Comparing the two
The advantages of the mini tummy tuck are therefore that:
1. it is a smaller procedure – it can be done as day case surgery
2. the recovery (down) time is lesser, about 2 – 3 weeks
3. the scar is shorter
4. no scar is left around the belly button
5. the belly button becomes more vertically orientated
6. more fat can be removed, especially from the upper part of the tummy
7. significantly less expensive
The disadvantages of the mini tummy tuck as compared to the classic are:
1. slightly less skin tightening
2. less muscle tightening
Who is not suitable for a tummy tuck?
Patients still considering another pregnancy are advised against a full tummy tuck. Part of the full tummy tuck operation is tightening of the muscles of the tummy and these may be disrupted by the expansion that occurs with pregnancy. Certain abdominal scars, especially the old fashioned open cholecystectomy (gall bladder removal) scar, can interfere with the blood supply of the tummy skin and performing a tummy tuck in a patient with such a scar would be ill-advised. The newer endoscopic or laparoscopic procedures leave smaller scars which still allow the tummy tuck to be done.