What is a Mini Tummy Tuck?

Published: April 6, 2023
Category: Dr. Nathan Leigh, Tummy Tuck, Blog

With the approach of Summer and swimsuit season looming just around the corner, many of us find ourselves scrutinizing our bodies in preparation for a wardrobe that covers less of our problem areas and exposes more skin. In truth, we all have areas of our bodies that we are dissatisfied with. Some can be significantly improved with diet and exercise alone, but others need surgical intervention for full correction. If you are bothered by a stubborn post-pregnancy pooch on your lower abdomen or a small amount of excess skin that makes you feel less than fabulous in a two-piece, a mini tummy tuck may be an excellent solution to achieve a flatter and smoother midsection.

What is Mini Tummy Tuck?

“I frequently recommend a mini tummy tuck to patients who are frustrated by a little extra loose skin below their belly button but who don’t have very pronounced abdominal fat or muscle laxity,” explains Dr. Nathan Leigh, a board-certified plastic surgeon and partner with Edina Plastic Surgery. “A mini tummy tuck is similar to a full abdominoplasty, but the procedure and incisions are less extensive. It is a popular surgery for patients who are already quite fit and within their ideal weight range but have a slightly protruding lower belly and some excess, sagging skin resulting from pregnancy or weight loss. When it comes to whether a patient needs a full or mini tummy tuck, I always recommend the more conservative surgery if it can provide satisfactory results.”

Why Causes the Post Pregnancy Abdominal “Pooch?”

A lower abdominal “pooch” and excess skin can linger after pregnancy, no matter how many crunches you do or how restrictive your caloric intake is. That’s because the condition results from changes to the muscles of the abdomen, not just from fluctuations in weight. A woman’s uterus and additional intra-abdominal fat will progressively push against her abdominal muscles during pregnancy. This strains the muscles and causes them to widen and loosen, possibly leading to a condition called diastasis. When this occurs, the rectus abdominus muscles become too loose and weak to support the structure of the abdominal wall, and the overlying skin sags, causing a distension or “pooch.”

“It’s very common for me to do a consultation with a woman who stayed incredibly fit and active throughout her pregnancy but still has a small distended pooch in her lower abdomen for months, even years after,” says Dr. Leigh. “This can be so frustrating for women, especially athletic women who have defined muscles everywhere else on their bodies, including the upper abdomen. This type of woman is the ideal candidate for a mini tummy tuck.”

Who is the Best Candidate for a Mini Tummy Tuck?

Traditional tummy tucks (standard or extended) are performed far more frequently than mini tummy tucks. That’s because the ideal candidate is less common.

“Most patients I see for tummy tuck consultations are better candidates for the standard or extended tummy tuck because they have both excess skin and fat to remove and, in some cases, need extensive repair to their abdominal muscles,” says Dr. Leigh. “Someone who is a true candidate for a mini tummy tuck has only a moderate amount of excess skin and fat that is only located below the belly button, making it easy to remove with a small incision that falls below the bikini line, much like a cesarean scar. If a patient has skin and fat that hangs prominently over their waistline, and the fold of their skin reaches the hips, a standard or extended tummy tuck will be needed for an optimal outcome.”

How is a Mini Tummy Tuck Performed?

During a mini tummy tuck, a small ellipse of skin and fat, generally no longer than eight inches, is removed from the lower abdomen, below the belly button. In addition, lax muscles in this area may also be tightened to improve the support of the abdominal wall and enhance the profile of a patient’s midsection.

Can Other Procedures Be Performed with a Mini Tummy Tuck?

“A mini tummy tuck is a very popular procedure performed in a Mommy Makeover, along with breast lift, breast augmentation, and liposuction,” explains Dr. Leigh. “Liposuction can improve the results of a tummy tuck, even a mini tuck, because it allows your surgeon to remove stubborn pockets of fat in the abdominal area, flanks, and hips. Removing this fat helps slim and shape the entire midsection, not just the lower abdominals.”

What is the Recovery from a Mini Tummy Tuck Like?

Although a mini tummy tuck is less extensive than a standard or extended tummy tuck, it still requires downtime. Expect to take a week off work and have specific movement and lifting restrictions for up to six weeks. Compression garments must also be worn if liposuction is performed during your procedure.

“The scar that results from a mini tummy tuck is about half the length of a standard tummy tuck and is very discreet,” says Dr. Leigh. “On most patients, it falls well below their underwear line and is easy to hide, even in lower bikini bottoms. This is definitely one of those surgeries that, when done, patients often comment that they wish they had done it sooner because it made such an improvement to their midsection and the confidence they feel in their appearance!”

Are you considering abdominoplasty but are still determining if you are a candidate for a mini, standard, or extended tummy tuck? Schedule a complimentary consultation with Dr. Nathan Leigh or another board-certified Edina Plastic Surgery surgeon by calling (612) 688-3177, texting (952) 925-1765, or CLICKING HERE.

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