Decades ago a cup of coffee was a cup of coffee, but now that cup of coffee can be Maxwell House, espresso, or a cinnamon dolce latte. They’re all coffee, but you’d be upset if you got a cup of instant coffee for the price of a triple shot mocha.
A Tummy Tuck (or “Abdominoplasty”), like a “cup of coffee,” is a catch-all term that covers a variety of procedures. A “mini” or “bikini” is the simplest form, and is ideal for an individual with loose skin below the belly button and tight skin above. Since the surgical area is limited and no muscle repair is done, this procedure can sometimes be done under local anesthesia with sedation.
Most patients coming in for a tummy tuck, however have loose skin both above and below the belly button, and their muscles have been stretched apart by pregnancy, weight changes, or genetics. If they had a mini or bikini, they would be disappointed, because they wouldn’t see much change. To help improve this type of tummy, the lower belly skin is lifted. Then an incision is made around the belly button so that the skin can be lifted even further…all the way to the rib cage. Much like getting a wrinkle out of a rug when the rug needs to be lifted all the way from one end to the other to smooth it out, the tummy skin is smoothed out be lifting it all the way up, then smoothing it out and trimming the extra.
A bonus in a standard tummy tuck is that the six-pack muscles are in clear view, and the muscles can be repaired, resulting in better back support and, in thin women, better contour definition. In our practice, for the patient’s safety, a board-certified physician anesthesiologist attends to our tummy tuck patients who are comfortably sleeping during the operation. For patients with loose skin and fatty tissue that hangs down, especially after massive weight loss, the apron of tissue can be removed by doing a “panniculectomy,” which is a more extensive form of a tummy tuck. Removal of the weight and bulk of the apron of skin and fat can make a tremendous difference in an individual’s comfort, physical activity, and ability to find clothes that fit.
Physicians who are not board-certified plastic surgeons are most likely to perform a mini/bikini abdominoplasty, since it is the simplest and easiest to do. But it is also the most limited procedure and gives good results in only a small percentage of tummy tuck patients. Our Santa Rosa and Marin tummy tuck patients are given all the options. What you don’t want to do is sign up for a mini/bikini, pay the price of a standard abdominoplasty, and end up not getting the procedure you really needed. That’s like ordering a double espresso with a lemon twist and getting a cup of instant coffee.