A tummy tuck or abdominoplasty is a major surgery that removes excess fat and skin from your abdomen. It also tightens the abdominal fascia, leaving your midsection looking smoother and firmer.
Surgeons use various techniques to perform a tummy tuck, depending on how much correction a patient needs. Your doctor may recommend a mini tummy tuck, a full tummy tuck, an extended tummy tuck, or a Fleur-de-lis tummy tuck.
What Is a Mini Tummy Tuck?
A mini tummy tuck is the least invasive form of abdominoplasty. Hence has the shortest recovery time and results in minimal scarring.
The procedure only addresses your lower abdomen, i.e., the area just above your pubic region and below your navel. Partial abdominoplasty is, therefore, best suited for patients who require minimal improvement.
If you have a small amount of belly fat, mild to moderate skin sagging, and minimal muscle separation and weakness, your plastic surgeon will likely recommend a mini tummy tuck.
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons’ 2020 statistics put the average cost of a tummy tuck at $6,154. Partial abdominoplasty is less extensive than a full abdominoplasty and, therefore, less expensive.
According to RealSelf, the cost of a mini tummy tuck ranges between $2,250 to $11,375. Your final mini tummy tuck price will depend on factors such as your surgeon’s experience and the location of the healthcare facility.
Ensure to ask about the specific costs you’ll incur during your surgery consultation. These include:
- Lab work and medical tests
- Surgeon’s fees
- Hospital or ambulatory surgical center fees
- Anesthesia fees
- Prescription drug costs
- Cost of post-surgery garments
Because a mini tummy tuck is an elective surgical procedure, it’s generally not covered by insurance. And neither are its complications.
Your plastic surgeon may provide financing options, so be sure to ask. Financing will help make paying for your procedure more manageable.
You’re an ideal mini tummy tuck candidate if you:
- Have a slight lower belly pooch
- Have minimal muscle separation
- Require a C-section scar revision
- Have little sagging skin
- Are not considering future pregnancies
- Have general good health
- Are a non-smoker
If you have excess fat and skin in your upper belly and need significant muscle tightening, a full abdominoplasty will likely be the recommended course of treatment.
If you have had two or more pregnancies in the past, you may also be a better candidate for a full tummy tuck.
A mini or partial abdominoplasty flattens and tones your lower abdominal area, improving your abdomen’s overall appearance. It achieves this by:
- Removing excess fat, where your surgeon may use liposuction.
- Trimming excess skin, then pulling together the remaining skin and stitching it in place.
- Tightening the lower abdominal muscles with internal sutures.
A mini tummy tuck can also remove or improve stretch marks in your lower abdomen, but only if they appear on the excess skin that your surgeon cuts out.
Plastic surgeons generally perform a mini-abdominoplasty on an outpatient basis in an ambulatory surgical center or office-based surgical facility. You’ll be under general anesthesia or local anesthesia with IV sedation during the surgery.
For patients also getting liposuction done, the surgeon does the liposuction first. That’s because the procedure results in more loose skin and involves injecting lots of numbing medications into the target area.
After the lipo, your surgeon will make a single 4-8 inch incision just above your pubic region.
The location of the incision makes it easily concealable by most underwear and swimwear. The surgeon will then stretch your abdominal skin downward and trim the excess skin.
Some surgeons also trim off some fat on the underside of the remaining skin to reduce the top fat layer for a flatter lower belly. If you require muscle tightening, your surgeon will suture your lower abdominal muscles together, as well.
Finally, the surgeon will adjust the remaining skin before closing the incision using dissolvable sutures, surgical tape, or skin adhesives. In most cases, you won’t have surgical drains inserted after a mini tummy tuck. The procedure takes one to three hours.
A partial tummy tuck only focuses on your lower abdominal area. It doesn’t reposition your navel nor remove excess skin and fat from your upper abdominal area.
If you want to get your pre-pregnancy belly back or have lower belly fat, you may be a good candidate for a mini tummy tuck.
For patients who require significant improvements, other tummy tuck techniques are likely better options.
You’ll have a consultation with your plastic surgeon before your mini tummy tuck procedure. During this visit, your surgeon will:
- Review your medical history. You will answer questions about your current and past medical conditions, previous surgeries, current medication and supplements you’re taking, and any drug allergies you have.
- Examine your abdomen. A physical examination of your abdominal area helps the surgeon determine if a mini tummy tuck is the right treatment option for you.
- Take photographs of your abdomen for your medical record. Mini tummy tuck before and after photos also help gauge the results of a procedure.
- Discuss your surgical goals. A good tummy tuck candidate has realistic expectations.
- Explain the benefits and potential risks of a partial tummy tuck. These may include swelling, bruising, pain, infection, blood clots, scarring, and asymmetry.
In preparation for your procedure, your surgeon may also ask you:
- Stop smoking.
- Take certain medications, such as anticoagulants, which prevent blood clotting.
- Avoid taking anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements as they can increase bleeding.
- Arrange for someone to drive you home after your procedure and stay with you at least the first night after surgery.
Mini-abdominoplasty procedures are less invasive, so the downtime needed is less than after a full tummy tuck. Most patients can return to work one week following surgery.
Expect some pain, which may be more severe if you also had your abdominal muscles repaired. Low-level pain medication may be prescribed for the first few days, after which over-the-counter pain meds will suffice.
You will also experience some swelling, which should resolve within a few weeks. To help reduce swelling and bruising, your surgeon will likely ask you to wear a compression garment for a month or so.
You will receive post-operative care instructions, which include how to care for the surgical site and how to bathe during recovery from a mini tummy tuck. Follow these instructions to speed up your recovery time.
Your surgeon’s office will schedule a follow-up appointment a few weeks after surgery to ensure your incision is properly healing. If you notice any signs of surgical site infection before then, call your doctor immediately.
Patients generally cannot engage in strenuous activities like cardio exercise until at least a month post-surgery.
It can take up to six weeks to fully recover and return to doing most of your normal activities.
A mini tummy tuck results in your lower abdomen looking firmer and slimmer. You’ll be able to see these results once all the swelling goes down, which can take a few weeks to a few months.
Mini tummy tuck results are long-lasting as long as you don’t become pregnant or gain weight. So if you’re pleased with the outcome of your procedure, maintain a healthy diet and exercise regularly to maintain a stable weight.
The scar from a mini tummy tuck is usually under 6 inches long and is placed just above your pubic area. So it’s entirely hidden below your bikini line.
It can take several months to a year for the scar to mature, i.e., become flat and nearly the same color as your surrounding skin. Proper wound care may increase the likelihood that you end up with a flat scar instead of a raised scar.
Getting a mini tummy tuck after a C-section not only helps you regain your pre-pregnancy body but can also replace your C-section scar with one that’s less visible.
Your surgeon removes your C-section scar when excising the excess skin, leaving only the partial abdominoplasty scar. The latter is lower and matures into a less noticeable thin line.
Mini Tummy Tuck vs. Full Tummy Tuck
|Mini Tummy Tuck||Full Tummy Tuck|
|Targets the lower abdomen||Targets your upper and lower abdomen|
|Require one incision||Requires two incisions|
|Short and easily concealable scar||Hip-to-hip scar that is more obvious|
- RealSelf (July 29, 2020).Mini Tummy Tuck: Everything You Need Know. realself.com/surgical/mini-tummy-tuck.
- American Society of Plastic Surgeons (n.d).Tummy Tuck(Abdominoplasty). plasticsurgery.org/cosmetic-procedures/tummy-tuck.
- Cleveland Clinic (December 30, 2020). Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck). my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/11017-abdominoplasty-tummy-tuck.
- AEDIT (November 16, 2021). Mini Tummy Tuck. aedit.com/procedure/mini-tummy-tuck.
- Mayo Clinic staff (July 20, 2019). Tummy Tuck. mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/tummy-tuck/about/pac-20384892.