Mini Tummy Tuck vs. Full Tummy Tuck Guide
Mini tummy tuck vs. full tummy tuck; what’s the difference?
In this guide, we will answer that question in all categories—from ideal candidates, procedural differences, and all the way to the final results of a flatter abdomen and restored self-confidence.
Of course, when determining which tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) is best for you, it begins with our Plastic + Hand team that has the most qualified tummy tuck surgeons in Maine. Once you book your consultation, you’ll have the opportunity to share your specific body concerns and the ideal appearance you want to achieve. This conversation ensures you will have the exactly right tummy tuck procedure for you.
For now, let’s detail the differences between a mini tummy tuck and a full tummy tuck.
- What is a tummy tuck?
- Mini Tummy Tuck vs. Full Tummy Tuck: Candidates
- Mini Tummy Tuck vs. Full Tummy Tuck: Procedure
- Mini Tummy Tuck vs. Full Tummy Tuck: Diastasis Recti
- Mini Tummy Tuck vs. Full Tummy Tuck: Scar
- Mini Tummy Tuck vs. Full Tummy Tuck: Recovery
- Mini Tummy Tuck vs. Full Tummy Tuck: Results
- Mini Tummy Tuck vs. Full Tummy Tuck: Next steps
What is a tummy tuck?
After pregnancy, weight loss, or simply the aging process, you may need excess skin removal, want to tighten loose skin, or you may be looking for a body contouring surgery that gives you the appearance that you want.
A tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) is the removal of excess fat and skin, and often muscle repair, to improve the shape and appearance of the abdomen.
There are two types of tummy tucks: A mini tummy tuck (partial abdominoplasty) and full tummy tuck (standard abdominoplasty) that we will detail in this guide.
Mini Tummy Tuck vs. Full Tummy Tuck: Candidates
Most healthy people who are dissatisfied with the shape and/or laxity of their abdomen are candidates for abdominoplasty. Typically, the best candidates for tummy tuck procedures are people of normal weight who have weakened abdominal muscles and excess skin/fat that aren’t responsive to diet and exercise.
It’s important to note that while a tummy tuck procedure can improve your appearance, and create a flatter abdomen, this surgery is not a substitute for weight loss. It’s best to be at your ideal weight prior to surgery for the best abdominoplasty results.
So, what’s the fundamental difference between a mini tummy tuck and a full tummy tuck? Here’s the short answer:
- A mini tummy tuck is recommended when the problem area is mainly below the navel and involves a minimum of excess skin.
- A full tummy tuck is recommended if the fullness and loose skin are more extensive and involve the entire abdomen.
Mini Tummy Tuck vs. Full Tummy Tuck: Procedure
With training from some of the top medical centers in the U.S. (including Harvard, Yale, Stanford, UCSF, Mayo Clinic), Plastic + Hand surgeons have the depth of experience and skills necessary to perform your tummy tuck safely and successfully in the comfort of our accredited outpatient Plastic + Hand Surgery Center located on-site here in Portland, Maine.
The first step is to discuss your tummy tuck options with your Plastic + Hand surgeon. Depending on the degree of change you’d like to see, your tummy tuck procedure options might include a mini tummy tuck or full tummy tuck. Before tummy tuck surgery, you and your surgeon will review the procedure and expected outcomes.
On surgery day, your surgeon will draw the incision guidelines on your abdomen in the upright position in the preoperative area, and the surgery will take place under general anesthesia.
Here’s the basic differences between the two abdominoplasty procedures:
Mini tummy tuck
During the mini tummy tuck surgery, your surgeon will make a small horizontal incision low on the abdomen and leave the navel intact. Excess skin and fat are removed, and the incision (typically smaller than a full tummy tuck incision) is sutured together. For improved contouring, liposuction of the upper abdomen is often performed at the same time as a mini abdominoplasty.
The actual mini tummy tuck surgery will take about 1-2 hours and you’ll recover in the recovery room where your progress will be monitored and most discomfort you’ll feel can be controlled with medication. Discomfort following a mini tummy tuck is generally less than a full tummy tuck. After a few hours, a friend or relative can drive you home. For more visual details about this mini tummy tuck procedure, you can check out this 3-D surgery animation on our website.
Full tummy tuck
During the full tummy tuck surgery, your surgeon will make an incision across your lower abdomen that curves up toward your hips. Your surgeon will also make a small incision around the navel so that he/she can position your belly button properly on your recontoured abdomen. Excess skin and fat are removed, and the incision is sutured together. Prior to closing the incision, your surgeon may tighten the abdominal muscles if they are loose. In addition, liposuction may also be recommended to improve the appearance of the flanks, love handles, or the central abdomen.
The actual full abdominoplasty surgery will take about 2-3 hours and you’ll recover in the recovery room where your progress will be monitored and most discomfort you’ll feel can be controlled with medication. After a few hours, a friend or relative can drive you home. For more visual details about this full tummy tuck procedure, you can watch this 3-D surgery animation on our website.
Extended tummy tuck
An extended tummy tuck is a full abdominoplasty with an expanded incision, in which the surgeon also removes excess skin from the patient’s sides and improves muscle laxity at the flank (or “love handles”) and hip region. This would be recommended if your loose skin extends to the sides of the abdomen.
Mini Tummy Tuck vs. Full Tummy Tuck: Diastasis Recti
A tummy tuck procedure may involve muscle repair to address diastasis recti, a common condition in postpartum people, where the rectus abdominis muscles separate during pregnancy from being stretched and often results in a belly that “sticks out” or bulges. Diastasis recti may also occur when excess belly weight has spread apart the muscles.
Fixing diastasis recti depends on the integrity of the tissue. If someone has a little diastasis but tight tissues, there won’t be much cosmetic benefit in correcting it. If someone has more diastasis and lax tissue, the cosmetic benefit in bringing these abdominal muscles back together will be significant. Sometimes this will be evident at your consultation, and sometimes the decision to tighten your muscles will be made at the time of surgery based on findings.
This is something you can discuss directly with your Plastic + Hand surgeon in your initial consultation.
Mini Tummy Tuck vs. Full Tummy Tuck: Scar
In the tummy tuck procedure, your surgeon will make an incision that will result in a scar.
- In a mini tummy tuck: There will be a lower abdomen scar, typically hipbone to hipbone, but it may be shorter on either side depending on the patient’s body size.
- In a full tummy tuck: There will be a lower abdomen scar, typically hipbone to hipbone, in addition to small scarring around the belly button. Incisions will be longer in an “extended” tummy tuck to deal with more loose skin.
In general, tummy tuck scars should soften/fade well by the one-year mark, and are concealed by underwear, swimsuits, and clothing in the meantime. Of course, scar care is essential in this maturation process. For specific steps to help improve the overall appearance of your scar, please refer to our Plastic + Hand Scar Care handout.
Mini Tummy Tuck vs. Full Tummy Tuck: Recovery
There is short-term post-op recovery and longer-term healing in any surgery.
After surgery, you’ll have bandages on your abdomen, and you’ll be placed into a (surgeon-provided) surgical abdominal binder to provide support and comfort, as well as help maintain your abdominal shape while you heal.
You will also likely have small drainage tubes placed within your abdominal tissue to keep fluid from accumulating. These are typically removed at your post-op appointment within the first week or two. During this appointment, your surgeon may also change or remove your dressings. Stitches will be absorbed over time.
When it comes to the differences between a mini tummy tuck vs. full tummy tuck, the healing time generally tends to be faster with a mini tummy tuck. However, this will be dependent on your specific abdominoplasty surgery, and if muscle repair was part of your procedure.
While you will receive specific post-op instructions, we encourage you to dive deeper into abdominoplasty recovery with these three comprehensive resources:
- Tummy Tuck 101 Guide: This outlines the three primary phases of abdominoplasty recovery.
- Tummy Tuck Recovery Guide: A timeline from day one to resuming normal activity.
- Tummy Tuck Compression Guide: A timeline for swelling and recommendations for effective compression.
Mini Tummy Tuck vs. Full Tummy Tuck: Results
Before surgery, your surgeon will help you visualize your expected tummy tuck outcome and agreement on realistic post-op outcomes for either your mini tummy tuck or your full tummy tuck.
Shortly after surgery, you’ll get a good sense of how your abdomen will look, but swelling is expected and normal for several months. Because the healing process is gradual, you may not see the final result for up to a year.
After recovery from either your mini tummy tuck or your full tummy tuck, you’ll experience the final outcome of tummy tuck surgery—a new appearance with a flatter stomach. Unless your weight shifts significantly, or you become pregnant, you can expect most of your tummy tuck improvement and results to be relatively permanent.
Mini Tummy Tuck vs. Full Tummy Tuck: Next steps
While there are many reasons to seek tummy tuck procedures (notably achieving a flat abdomen and regaining your self-confidence), our leading abdominoplasty surgeons in Portland, Maine, will work with you on realistic expectations prior to the surgery.
We also want to take this moment and thank you for considering Plastic + Hand for your abdominoplasty. Our work and our dedication is about you. We’re committed to providing the results you seek with the respect and compassion you deserve.
It’s time to discover the results you’ll love.The first step begins here. Call us at 207-775-3446, or submit this request form, to schedule your consultation with our Patient Care Coordinator to determine whether a mini tummy tuck or full tummy tuck is right for you.