How is abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) performed?
Generally, a horizontal incision is placed just within or above the pubic area (see illustration at right). The length of the incision, which extends outward toward the hip bones, depends largely on the amount of skin to be removed. In other words, the more loose skin that needs to be removed, the longer the incision will be. For women, plastic surgeons keep the incision within swimsuit lines, when it is possible. Working through this incision, your surgeon may tighten the underlying muscles by pulling them together and stitching them in place. Any excess skin from the lower abdomen is trimmed away. Skin that contains stretch marks may be removed as well; however, it may not be possible to remove them all.
In patients with larger amounts of loose skin, a second incision may be made around the navel. This way, the excess skin above the navel is separated from the deeper tissues so it can be pulled downward and removed. Although the navel’s position remains unchanged, its appearance may be slightly altered.
Are there other options?
Traditional abdominoplasty isn’t the best choice for everyone. Your surgeon will advise you if either of these other options will work well with your anatomy and meet your surgical goals.
The “mini” abdominoplasty
This procedure may benefit you if you are primarily dissatisfied with the appearance of the abdominal area below the navel. A mini abdominoplasty requires only a short horizontal incision and no navel incision. It’s important to realize, however, that the mini abdominoplasty will not correct loose skin above the navel.
If you have good skin elasticity and muscle tone, liposuction alone may be used to remove abdominal fat. This alternative may appeal to patients who are planning to become pregnant in the future.