Different Types of Abdominoplasty

By Dr Jake Lim – Plastic Surgeon | Updated: March 20, 2024

What Is the Right Type of Abdominoplasty Procedure for You?

Abdominoplasty, commonly referred to as a tummy tuck, can be a solution for those looking to address excess skin, stubborn fat deposits, and weakened abdominal muscles, often resulting from significant weight loss, pregnancy, or ageing. The field of plastic surgery has evolved, presenting different types of abdominoplasty techniques tailored to meet the unique needs and goals of each patient.

From the traditional full abdominoplasty to the less invasive skin-only abdominoplasty, and the extensive modifications offered by extended and circumferential techniques, each type of tummy tuck – abdominoplasty is designed with specific outcomes in mind. Consulting with an experienced plastic surgeon such as Dr Jake Lim is the first step in navigating these choices, ensuring the path chosen aligns with one’s physical health, goals and lifestyle considerations. In this blog, Dr Lim will discuss different types of abdominoplasty procedures.

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Abdominoplasty Guide

Types of Abdominoplasty

Traditional/Full Abdominoplasty

Traditional or full abdominoplasty is a form of tummy tuck designed for individuals seeking significant alterations in the appearance of their abdomen. This procedure is particularly beneficial if you have undergone major weight loss or pregnancies, leading to excess skin and weakened abdominal muscles. During a full abdominoplasty, a horizontal incision is made above the pubic area, stretching from hip to hip. This allows Dr Lim to remove excess skin, tighten weakened or separated muscles, and, if necessary, reposition the belly button to a more natural-looking location.

Good candidates for this procedure are those who are close to their ideal body weight but struggle with a protruding abdomen that doesn’t improve with diet and exercise. It’s also suitable for people who have stabilised their weight after bariatric surgery or women who have decided not to have more children, as future pregnancies can reverse the results.

Recovery from a full abdominoplasty can be extensive, usually requiring a few weeks of reduced activity to allow for proper healing. You may experience discomfort, swelling, and bruising, but these symptoms gradually subside. Dr Lim recommends wearing a compression garment to support the healing process and minimise swelling. It’s important to follow Dr Lim’s post-operative instructions closely, including guidelines on when to resume physical activities.

It’s essential to have realistic expectations and understand that a full abdominoplasty is a major surgical procedure with potential risks, such as infection, bleeding, or scarring.

Mini Abdominoplasty

The mini abdominoplasty, often referred to as a mini tummy tuck, is a less invasive alternative to the full abdominoplasty, designed for individuals who are primarily concerned with excess skin and fat below the belly button. This procedure can be a good option for those who are relatively close to their ideal body weight but have localised abdominal protrusions that do not respond to diet or exercise. Unlike the full abdominoplasty, the mini version targets only the lower abdomen, making it a suitable option for patients with less extensive cosmetic concerns.

During a mini abdominoplasty, a smaller incision is made just above the pubic area, through which Dr Lim removes excess skin. This procedure may also include liposuction to further refine the contour of the abdomen. The muscle is not tightened during this procedure. The belly button is not repositioned during a mini abdominoplasty, which helps shorten the recovery time and reduce scarring.

Recovery from a mini abdominoplasty is generally quicker and less painful than that of a full abdominoplasty. You can often return to normal activities within a couple of weeks, although heavy lifting and strenuous exercise should be avoided for a longer period. A compression garment may also be recommended to support the healing process and help the skin conform to the new abdominal contour.

The benefits of a mini abdominoplasty include a smoother, firmer lower abdomen. It can be a good option for patients seeking minor adjustments with less downtime and fewer risks compared to more extensive procedures. However, it’s important to have realistic expectations and understand that a mini abdominoplasty cannot address issues with the upper abdomen or significantly separated abdominal muscles.

Extended Abdominoplasty

Extended abdominoplasty goes beyond the traditional tummy tuck by targeting excess skin and fat not only in the abdominal area but also the flanks and lower back. This procedure is particularly suited for individuals who have experienced significant weight loss, leading to substantial amounts of loose skin around the abdomen and hips. Extended abdominoplasty is more complex than a full abdominoplasty, making it a potential option for those seeking a visible change in their midsection and lower body contour.

The procedure involves a longer incision that extends around the hips to the lower back, allowing Dr Lim to remove a larger amount of excess skin and fat. Additionally, the abdominal muscles are tightened, and liposuction may be employed to enhance body contour further. Due to the extensive nature of the surgery, the belly button is often repositioned to maintain a natural-looking appearance.

Extended Abdominoplasty Patient 3 — Front View
Extended Abdominoplasty Patient 3 — Front View

Candidates for extended abdominoplasty include those who have stabilised their weight loss and do not plan any future pregnancies, as these can affect the results. The procedure is also well-suited for individuals who are bothered by excess skin and fat that extends around the sides of their body and possibly the lower back area, which cannot be addressed by a traditional or mini abdominoplasty.

Recovery from an extended abdominoplasty is more involved, requiring a longer period of rest and limited activity to ensure proper healing. You can expect more significant discomfort, swelling, and bruising due to the procedure’s scope. A compression garment is recommended for several weeks post-surgery to aid in recovery and help shape the newly contoured body.

Fleur-de-Lis Abdominoplasty

Fleur-de-Lis abdominoplasty is a specialised surgical procedure designed for individuals with significant excess skin in both the vertical and horizontal dimensions of the abdomen. This technique is particularly beneficial for those who have undergone massive weight loss, such as post-bariatric surgery patients, where the skin’s elasticity cannot adequately retract to fit the new body size. The Fleur-de-Lis method is distinct from other abdominoplasty procedures because it involves not only a traditional horizontal incision across the lower abdomen but also a vertical incision from the lower sternum to the pubic area. This allows for the removal of excess skin and fat both vertically and horizontally, providing a more visible reshaping and tightening of the abdominal area.

The name “Fleur-de-Lis” is derived from the shape of the incisions, which resemble the stylised lily associated with the French monarchy. The procedure is intensive and requires a skilled surgeon to ensure symmetry and aesthetic appeal, as it can significantly alter the abdomen’s appearance. Good candidates are those with substantial excess skin who understand the trade-off between altered body contour and the presence of more noticeable scarring.

Recovery from a Fleur-de-Lis abdominoplasty involves a longer and more intensive healing process due to the extensive nature of the surgery. You can expect significant swelling and bruising, with a gradual return to normal activities over several weeks or months. It’s crucial to follow Dr Lim’s post-operative care instructions meticulously, including wearing compression garments and attending follow-up appointments, to monitor healing and reduce the risk of complications.

Circumferential Abdominoplasty

Circumferential abdominoplasty, also known as a body lift or belt lipectomy, is an extensive surgical procedure that targets the abdomen, hips, thighs, and buttocks. This type of abdominoplasty is especially suited for individuals who have experienced massive weight loss, either through diet and exercise or bariatric surgery, leading to excess skin and fat around the entire lower torso. Circumferential abdominoplasty encircles the body, removing excess skin and fat to create a more toned and contoured appearance.

The procedure involves an incision that runs around the entire waistline, allowing Dr Lim to lift and remove excess skin and fat from the abdomen, hips, lower back, and buttocks. It can also include tightening of the abdominal muscles, similar to a traditional abdominoplasty, to further refine the body’s contour. Because of the comprehensive nature of this surgery, it requires careful planning and execution to ensure symmetrical results and to minimise complications.

Candidates for circumferential abdominoplasty are those who have stabilised their weight loss and are left with circumferential excess skin that cannot be addressed through less invasive procedures. It’s important for patients to have realistic expectations about the procedure, including the understanding that there will be a significant scar around the waist.

Recovery from a circumferential abdominoplasty is more complex than other types of tummy tucks, with a longer period of downtime required. You may need to take several weeks off from work and avoid strenuous activities for up to two months. Compression garments are worn to reduce swelling and support the new body contours as they heal.

Choosing the Right Type of Abdominoplasty Procedure for You

With various types of abdominoplasty available, choosing the right procedure tailored to your specific needs and goals can be challenging. The first step in choosing the right abdominoplasty procedure is to conduct thorough research and understand the differences between each type. As outlined before, each abdominoplasty technique caters to different concerns, from removing a small amount of excess skin in the lower abdomen with a mini abdominoplasty to addressing significant skin excess around the entire lower torso with a circumferential abdominoplasty. Assessing your areas of concern and the extent of change you wish to see is crucial in narrowing down your options.

Consulting with an experienced surgeon such as Dr Lim is an indispensable part of the decision-making process. A qualified surgeon can evaluate your physical health, discuss your aesthetic goals, and recommend the most appropriate procedure based on their expertise. During the consultation, be open and honest about your medical history, lifestyle, and expectations. This is also the time to ask questions, express any concerns, and discuss the potential risks and benefits of each procedure.

Factors to consider when choosing the right procedure include the recovery time you can afford, the extent of results you desire, and any future plans for pregnancy or significant weight changes, which could affect the outcomes of abdominoplasty. Additionally, consider the financial aspect, as more extensive procedures like a circumferential abdominoplasty may be costlier and not covered by insurance if deemed purely cosmetic.

It’s also important to have realistic expectations about the results. Abdominoplasty can alter your body contour, but it’s not a substitute for weight loss or a healthy lifestyle. Understanding the limitations and potential outcomes of each procedure will help set a foundation for satisfaction with your results.

FAQs about Types of Abdominoplasty

FAQs

How long do the results of an abdominoplasty last?

  • The results of an abdominoplasty can be long-lasting, provided you maintain a stable weight and follow a healthy lifestyle. Significant weight fluctuations, pregnancy, and ageing can affect the surgery’s outcome over time. Regular exercise and a balanced diet are crucial to preserving the results.

Can abdominoplasty remove stretch marks?

  • Abdominoplasty can remove stretch marks located on the skin that is excised, usually those below the belly button. However, it’s important to note that abdominoplasty is not a specific treatment for stretch marks. Stretch marks on the remaining abdominal skin will not be affected.

Is there a weight limit for undergoing abdominoplasty?

  • There is no specific weight limit for abdominoplasty, but patients are generally advised to be close to their ideal weight. Being significantly overweight can increase the risk of complications. Dr Lim recommends a stable weight for at least six months before the procedure for the best outcomes.

How soon after pregnancy can I undergo abdominoplasty?

  • It’s recommended to wait at least six months to a year after giving birth before undergoing abdominoplasty. This waiting period allows your body to recover from pregnancy, your weight to stabilise, and if you are breastfeeding, for milk production to cease. Additionally, you should be sure you are not planning any more pregnancies, as future pregnancies can reverse the results of the surgery.

Can abdominoplasty be combined with other surgeries?

  • Yes, abdominoplasty is often combined with other procedures for more complex body contouring results. Common combinations include breast surgery (such as augmentation, lift (mastopexy), or reduction), liposuction of the thighs or hips, and lower body lift. Combining surgeries can extend recovery time but may reduce overall downtime and costs compared to having the procedures done separately. Dr Lim will evaluate your overall health and goals to recommend the best approach.

Further Reading about Abdominoplasty with Sydney Specialist Plastic Surgeon Dr Jake Lim

Medical References about Different Types of Abdominoplasty

About Dr Jake Lim

Highly qualified and experienced specialist plastic surgeon Dr Jake Lim focuses on facial plastic, cosmetic breast and body contouring after significant weight loss

Dr Lim creates the best possible plastic surgery results for his Australia-wide and international patients.

Dr Lim is passionate about making sure each and every patient has access to the right information about available treatments and procedures and is able to make well-informed decisions.

At My Klinik, patient safety, education and achieving optimal results are our top priorities.