Does A Mini Tummy Tuck Have A Faster Recovery?

Q: Dr. Eppley, I am interested in a mini tummy tuck. My main concern is the recovery. I exercise daily, Pilates and tabata a few times a week. I just think of the time away from that and I cringe. Recovery time is a concern also because I travel a lot and if I’m going to do this I want to do it soon before our next scheduled trip in June. I have attached a picture. I know with the stretch marks I’m going to be scarred anyway but losing the excess skin would be fantastic.

A: Thank you for sending your picture and expressing your concerns about the procedure.  Between the picture and your concerns, the reality is that the mini tummy tuck is probably the not best procedure for you. In addition your recovery concerns are not going to be surmounted by having a ‘smaller’ tummy tuck operation. You have so much loose lower abdominal skin that a mini tummy tuck is going to produce a very subpar result. Even with a mini tummy tuck when you bend over there is still going to be loose skin that hangs between your belly button and the lower scar line. To really get rid of the maximum amount of loose lower abdominal skin a full tummy tuck pattern is needed in your case. While there is nothing wrong with choosing a mini tummy tuck for a smaller and lower scar, it is important to understand and accept that its improvement will be far less than you may expect.

The amount of abdominal skin to be excised aside, it is a significant misconception that the recovery time for a mini tummy tuck is really smaller than a full one. The stark reality is that regardless of the tummy tuck operation chosen you will need a minimum of three weeks away from such strenuous activities that you love.  The biggest risk and complication that every tummy tuck patient faces is that of developing a fluid collection (seroma) due to early and excessive physical activity. Once a seroma develops it will set back recovery a month and will result in the need for weekly aspiration of fluid and the risk of lower abdominal skin contracture/deformty. It really doesn’t matter whether it is a mini- or full tummy tuck this risk is the same. In fact it is a higher risk in mini- tummy tucks because the patient often thinks it is ‘less’ of an operation and they can go back to full activity as soon as they feel like it.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana