Q. I've had three pregnancies and I would like to get my body back to how it was. My friends tell me that I should get a tummy tuck. Is it possible to have a mini tummy tuck so that I don't have to have such a long recovery and have a smaller scar?
A. This is a common question that I hear both in facial surgery and in body surgery. Everybody wants to get something for nothing. Many of the minimally invasive procedures do just that, get minimal results. While there are many good reasons to do minimally invasive procedures, this is not one.
First, the great majority of women who seek a mini tummy tuck are not candidates for that procedure. Many women are intrigued by this procedure because it implies less scarring and less recovery time. Most women who are evaluated for a tummy tuck have had multiple pregnancies and have had their abdominal muscles stretched along with skin stretching and striae (stretch marks). The mini tummy tuck can address some fine loose skin below the umbilicus but is limited to addressing the muscle stretching below the umbilicus. In addition when someone has a mini tummy tuck, it prevents and limits the future surgery of a complete tummy tuck because the blood supply to the bellybutton is compromised. When blood supply is compromised, scarring can form and the results will not be satisfactory. In addition, if a mini tummy tuck is done, you may still have bulging from loose and stretched muscle above the umbilicus.
By choosing a full abdominoplasty or tummy tuck, most women and men will be able to restore and address the three main issues that patients want corrected — correcting loose skin; fixing stretched, bulging abdominal wall (diathesis); and in women, removing striae (stretch marks). All can be corrected with a well-planned full tummy tuck.
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Dr. Carlos Wolf is a partner in Miami Plastic Surgery and is board certified. Email your questions to him at Cwolf@miamiplasticsurgery.com.