Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck) removes excess skin and fat from the abdomen and tightens the abdominal wall. Weight loss and childbearing can create loose skin even in women who are fit. Unlike muscle, skin does not tighten up with exercise. Abdominoplasties can be more (full or extended) or less (mini) extensive.
A full abdominoplasty requires freeing up the skin from the muscle layer from the pubic area to the ribs and detaching the belly button from the skin. This allows the surgeon to pull the abdominal skin downwards and cut off the excess. This results in tightening of the skin above and below the belly button. A new opening for the belly button is created. If the muscle layer is also stretched, tightening can be performed at the same time. A long, hip bone to hip bone scar low on the abdomen is created, as well as a hidden scar around the belly button. Surgery is done under general anesthesia and patients spend the night in the hospital. Recovery time is about four to six weeks.
An extended abdominoplasty requires additional skin excision in the hip and flank area and is usually necessary after massive weight loss.
A mini abdominoplasty addresses only the lower abdomen and is indicated for patients with flat tummies above the belly button, but skin excess below. The incision may be less long and only the lower abdominal skin is freed up and pulled tight. The belly button is not detached and the abdominal muscles are usually not tightened. Surgery is done under general anesthesia as an outpatient. Recovery time is about three weeks, sometimes shorter.