Often our Atlanta patients want to talk about their options for tummy tucks. Whether it’s part of a mommy makeover or their sole interest there are questions that seem to come up all the time. Today’s blog will answer some of those questions and hopefully will help you as you begin your journey to a flatter stomach!
Mini, Full or extended?
When we use the term mini, full, or extended we are generally referring to the length of the incision and whether or not it includes muscle repositioning and belly button repositioning.
As a general rule a mini tummy tuck is a low narrow incision, similar to a C-section scar designed to remove some skin in the lower abdomen. It usually does not address muscle laxity or the belly button. It is good for a lower abdominal pinch of skin that doesn’t go away with exercise.
A Full tummy tuck involves an incision from hip bone to hip bone and repositions both the muscle and the belly button. It is a more extensive operation that the mini and recovery is longer. Because we do a much larger skin removal (usually between belly button and pubic area) and we address muscle laxity we use drains. We have written a blog on drainless tummy tucks – please feel free to see it here.
Extended tummy tuck means the incision continues past the hipbone area. This is utilized when there is more lateral skin laxity, in addition to a full tummy tuck the longer incision is used to remove more skin. If the skin laxity continues around towards the back we can extend the incision further to remove even more tissue. If we go all the way around, circumferentially then we call the procedure a body lift.
How many drains will I need and for how long?
Drainless tummy tucks are always and option, I have referenced a blog on it above. That being said, in general terms the idea of placing a drain is to decrease the chance of getting a fluid collection beneath the skin. The bigger the operation the more drains may be needed. As such, a mini tummy tuck may not require any drains, or maybe just one, while a body lift can require 4 drains – 2 from the front (right and left) and 2 for the back (right and left). Full and extended tummy tucks generally only need 2 drains.
Timing for drain removal is very dependent on how you heal. As your swelling goes down the drain output will decrease and eventually stop. We can remove the drain once the output is decreasing and the quality of the drainage appears reasonable. That means that the drainage is minimally bloody, and has turned yellow/clear. While it is a judgment call for your physician, we promise that we do not leave the drains for unnecessary amounts of time. We know you want them out! We usually can remove them around 2 weeks post surgery.
Everyone asks about the belly button. Will it look natural? Will it be “my” belly button or a new one, etc. We have many options when it comes to creating a belly button but as a general rule we use your actual belly button and relocate it through a new incision. This means that it is “your” belly button but it will definitely look a bit different than before. That is because we want the belly button to appear more youthful after the procedure. There are many ways to do that so often we will discuss your belly button and the best way to bring it out and make sure it looks good. Sometimes we will recommend making you a new one. This is usually in the case where there is a large hernia or the belly button has been damaged from prior procedures. In these situations we locate the new belly button in an ideal location.
How long does it take to heal from a tummy tuck?
We are very honest with our patients when we describe the postoperative experience. The first couple of weeks can be tough; Not only do you have the drains but you are bent over from the skin removal and the muscle repositioning feels like you have a corset on full-time. For most, once those drains come out, the experience is much easier. Now it will take a full 8 weeks to feel near 100% but each week gets easier as your core heals and you adapt to your new body.
Which Is Right for You?
It depends on a combination of factors including your ultimate desired cosmetic result, your budget, and your ability to take time to recover properly. In addition, your tummy may only have loose skin and not need muscle work, or vice versa. That is why we stress coming in for a complimentary consultation so we can evaluate your entire abdomen and midsection and make a recommendation that will fit your needs.
I am always happy to answer all your questions online or in person. You can submit a question or request a personal consultation here using our online form. You can also call one of our offices at (404) 476-8774 (Alpharetta), (770) 954-8406 (Roswell), or (678) 737-4612 (Woodstock) to schedule an appointment.