Plastic surgeons have developed different types of tummy tuck, aka abdominoplasty, to achieve the best result using the shortest possible incision. The surgery involves a horizontal cut below the navel in order to tighten the weakened abdominal muscles and at the same time remove the excess fat and loose skin.
There are three basic types of tummy tuck, namely the complete abdominoplasty, extended abdominoplasty, and partial abdominoplasty. Meanwhile, it is not uncommon for plastic surgeons to complement the procedure with liposuction to further remove the excess fats.
Remember that the ideal type of tummy tuck primarily depends on the amount of excess skin and fats you have. For instance, partial or mini tummy tuck is ideal if you have less sagging that is mostly on your lower abdomen; however, the same technique would not provide satisfying results if you have a severe case of loose tissue because it has little effect on the upper abdominal area.
Partial tummy tuck has a certain appeal to patients: it uses a very short incision below the navel that heals quickly, allowing the removal of small amount of excess fat and skin from the lower abdomen. At the same time, the technique can also correct the loose abdominal muscles without actually repositioning the navel, which is the case in extended and complete abdominoplasty.
By contrast, complete or full tummy tuck uses a hip-to-hip incision that is positioned close to the pubic region, while another one is put around the navel in order to reposition it to a higher location.
Once the belly button is detached from the surrounding tissue and skin, the surgeon can access the weakened muscles and correct them using tiny sutures before the incisions are sewn together. To protect the surgical site, he will wrap it with a dressing and compression garment.
Meanwhile, the extended tummy tuck uses a longer incision than a complete abdominoplasty, making it more ideal for massive weight loss patients who are left with a severe case of pannus (or hanging tissue and skin). The technique provides additional tightening and contouring, although the tradeoff is the appearance of a longer scar along the sides of the abdomen and upper groin.
As mentioned previously, doctors sometimes complement tummy tuck with liposuction particularly when there is a need to contour the flanks, upper abdomen, back, and thighs. This additional procedure can further smoothen the result, and possibly reduce the amount of postop swelling.
But most of the time doctors will avoid liposuctioning the central abdomen to make sure the area near the horizontal incision maintains a healthy amount of blood supply that could speed up recovery.