The tummy tuck’s ability to transform a saggy, flabby stomach into a flat, tight, attractive tummy has made it one of the most popular cosmetic procedures in America. According to the The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, more than 160,000 people elected to have this surgery in 2014, and the numbers are still on the rise. However, the significant scar associated with a full tummy tuck is still a big roadblock that prevents many people from considering an abdominoplasty. As this procedure has gained momentum, the push for minimally invasive, “short-scar” tummy tucks has grown even stronger.
The Issue of Scarring
The scar from a full tummy tuck typically extends from hip to hip or even extends posterior to the hip. This allows the surgeon to remove as much fat as possible from the front of the abdomen and prevents the development of dog ears. These massive scars often stretch 40 or even 50 centimeters, and although concealed under clothing, are too long to be hidden by underwear or a bathing suit. The length of this scar deters many prospective patients from surgery. Others are encouraged by the option of a mini tummy tuck because it leaves a shorter scar than a full tummy tuck. However, the mini tummy tuck is an inadequate alternative for the vast majority of cases because it restricts the area where fat and skin are removed to below the belly button. What today’s patients want is the impressive result of a full tummy tuck with the short scar of a mini. This has led to the development of the short-scar full tummy tuck, a technique that Dr. Perez uses to create full tummy tuck results without the huge scar.
The Advantages of Liposuction
According to Dr. Perez, the key to achieving optimal tummy tuck results without the large scar is performing liposuction before starting the abdominoplasty. Firstly, this creates beautiful abdominal contouring and helps mold the patient’s body into a curvy hourglass shape. In addition, liposuctioning fat from the stomach prior to the abdominoplasty eliminates the need for a longer scar. This is because the lipo is able to remove much of the fat that would normally be removed during the abdominoplasty, making a long incision unnecessary. Liposuction prior to the tummy tuck also greatly decreases the likelihood of dog ears. This is because dog ears form when pockets of excess fat are close to the incision, so removing this fat before the incision is made helps prevent them from forming.
The Short-Scar Full Tummy Tuck Procedure
After lipo is complete, the tummy tuck portion of surgery begins by making a 15-17cm horizontal incision approximately 6cm above the labia commissure (shown by the red line in Figure 1). Due to the low placement and short length of this scar, it is easily hidden by an undergarment or bikini. Then, the abdomen is dissected all the way from the pubic area to the xiphoid process (bottom edge of the sternum) just like in a regular full tummy tuck. Next, the abdominal muscles are plicated to correct the muscle separation that often results from childbearing. The excess skin and belly fat within the triangle are removed and the skin outside of the triangle is pulled down to close the incision. Lastly, a new hole for the belly button is made and it is sutured down at its new position.
Note that the length of skin pulled down (shown by the blue lines) is roughly twice the length of the lower abdominal incision (red line). Because there is a greater length of skin being pulled down than would normally fit within the length of the lower incision, the tummy tuck scar often appears “wrinkly” after surgery. However, this wrinkling is temporary and usually smooths out within seven months. After a year, the scar from a tummy tuck has faded to its fullest extent.
By performing liposuction before abdominoplasty, Dr. Perez is able create maximum tummy tuck results with a minimal scar. If you are interested in this operation and would like a free consultation to determine if you are a suitable candidate for the short-scar full tummy tuck, please do not hesitate to contact us! We look forward to hearing from you!