Most people have a vague idea of what a tummy tuck is: a procedure to remove extra skin from the mid-section. What you don't always realize until you consider a tummy tuck yourself is that there are multiple procedures that fall under the tummy tuck umbrella. Which procedure is best for you will depend on how much skin you need removed and the extent of the surgery you're willing to go through. Here are the three primary types of tummy tuck to discuss with your doctor or plastic surgeon.
A full abdominoplasty is the most common type of tummy tuck, and it works for most patients with a moderate amount of skin and fat they'd like removed. The surgical incision, in this case, is made across the front of the body only, stretching from hip to hip. Extra skin is removed, and some additional extra fat may be removed via liposuction. Then, the remaining ends of the skin are sutured together.
Healing from a full abdominoplasty takes a few months, in total, but most patients are up and moving around after a week or two. The scar is typically low, along the bikini line, and can be hidden with the right underwear or bathing suit.
A partial abdominoplasty is a less invasive procedure that requires a smaller incision. Instead of being made from hip to hip, the incision is only made across the center of the abdomen, below the belly button but above the pubic bone. The incision may be anywhere from 6 to 10 inches long, approximately, depending on the patient. This procedure works well for patients who only have a little extra skin to remove from this area. It's a common choice for women who have loose abdominal skin after pregnancy. The healing time is shorter, and drains are not typically required after surgery.
If the patient has extra skin that hangs down their back, too, then the doctor may recommend an extended abdominoplasty. For this procedure, the incision is made all of the way around the body. Skin can then be removed from the front, sides, and back. This procedure is usually only performed on patients who experience extensive weight loss after bariatric surgery. Recovery time for an extended abdominoplasty is long and can be painful, but the results are life-changing.
If you're thinking of having a tummy tuck, talk to your doctor about these options. Each procedure is a bit different, so it's nice to have a clearer idea of what to expect.