Can I have a Mini-Tummy Tuck with Muscle Repair?
A mini tummy tuck or mini abdominoplasty is often preferable to a full abdominoplasty as the procedure results in less visible scarring and a much quicker recovery time. The difficulty comes when patients who are good candidates for a mini abdominoplasty are suffering from recti divarication, when the abdominal muscles have separated in the middle to leave a gap or bulge. A mini tummy tuck can deal with this in some cases, but in most, the patient should consider a full tummy tuck instead.
What is the difference between a full tummy tuck and a mini tummy tuck?
A full tummy tuck or full abdominoplasty is a procedure in which skin and fat are removed from between the umbilicus (belly-button) and the bikini line, and the remaining skin is stretched to close the gap, with the umbilicus replaced in its natural position.
A mini tummy tuck (or mini abdominoplasty) is ideal for those with only a small amount of excess fat, but excess skin that sags and bothers you. This smaller surgery removes the excess skin, without needing to replace the umbilicus.
What is Abdominal Muscle Repair?
When the abdomen grows, either during pregnancy or weight gain, the abdominal muscles or rectus abdominis can spread apart. When the weight is lost, sometimes the muscles don’t come back together, leaving looseness that bulges in the middle of the abdomen. This is called Recti Divarication or diastasis recti, and can result in weakness of the abdominal muscles. These muscles are important to support your internal organs and stabilise your pelvis, and weakening them by leaving divarication untreated can lead to chronic back pain and reduced mobility.
An effective treatment for divarication of the recti is to surgically close the gap and strengthen the abdominis muscle. This is a routine part of a full tummy tuck operation, as the entire length of the abdominal wall is exposed. However, because of the position of the muscles, it is more difficult to repair the gap during a mini tummy tuck.
Benefits Of A Mini Tummy Tuck
A mini tummy tuck is good at addressing the fullness in your lower abdomen where there is not much excess fat. The benefits of this smaller surgery compared to a full tummy tuck are:
- The scar in the bikini line is shorter
- There is no scar around the belly button
- The surgery is less invasive, leading to fewer possible complications
- There is a quicker recovery time
- Limitations Of A Mini Tummy Tuck
Because the belly button is left in place, a surgeon is only able to access the lower half of the abdominal wall through the incision made. The main part of the looseness in divaricated muscles often lies above the belly button, so the amount we can repair during a mini tummy tuck is limited.
Can I have an Abdominal Muscle Repair with a Mini Tummy Tuck?
Unfortunately, including a repair to the abdominal muscles during a mini tummy tuck is much more complex procedure. While nobody wants the extra scarring and recovery associated with a full tummy tuck, the small incision made during a mini tummy tuck does not provide adequate access to the divaricated muscles, so extra incisions may need to be made, resulting in more scarring and longer recovery times anyway.
In most cases it is best to opt for a full tummy tuck if divaricated abdominal muscles is required. A suitable candidate for a full tummy tuck will have enough loose skin on the abdomen for the procedure to work. All of the skin between the umbilicus and pubic area is removed, and the remaining skin is stretched to close the gap.
However, in the rare case that someone wants to surgically this muscle gap, but does not have enough loose skin for a full tummy tuck, then the muscle could be reached by dividing the base of the belly button. This is known as ‘floating the belly button’, and allows us to access the abdominis recti without a full tummy tuck. However, there are risks associated with this method, particularly if you were to have a full tummy tuck in the future.
Body Contouring Surgery at The STAIANO Clinic
If you have just a mild fullness in the lower abdomen with separation of the abdominal muscles, you are in a slightly complicated situation because mini tummy tuck with muscle repair is a very limited procedure which carries considerable risks of poor scarring and longer recovery. It is always best to talk to a fully trained plastic surgeon with experience in body contouring so that you can go over the pros and cons of each type of tummy tuck.
For more information about Tummy Tucks you can download our free guide and if you have any questions you can contact us on 0121-454 3680. Join Jonathan Staiano’s Live Q&A to find out more and ask questions informally, every Tuesday at 7 pm on Facebook.