Technically known as an abdominoplasty, a tummy tuck is an excellent procedure for those with some excess skin and fat on their stomach that they want to be rid of. But if your problem extends a little further, your surgery may have to as well. An extended tummy tuck is a better procedure for some patients than a traditional tummy tuck.
What is an Extended Tummy Tuck?
During a tummy tuck, surgeons make an incision low on the abdomen that extends from one hip to the other. Although quite similar, an extended tummy tuck requires a longer incision that runs past the hips and onto the lower back. This allows the surgeon to remove excess skin from the flanks (love handles) and lower back as well as the stomach.
Why Would You Need an Extended Tummy Tuck?
Many people combine a standard tummy tuck with liposuction to help contour their flanks and lower back. This leads to a logical question: If liposuction combined with a tummy tuck can reshape your midsection, why would you need an extended tummy tuck? The answer is that liposuction is a sculpting tool that removes small to moderate amounts of fat. It won’t get rid of excess skin or large fat deposits. If you have excess skin on your lower back and sides, an extended tummy tuck can help even when liposuction can’t.
Can You Get an Extended Tummy Tuck if You’re Overweight? BMI Requirements & More
Some plastic surgeons allow patients with a BMI of up to 40 to undergo an extended tummy tuck. Due to safety concerns surrounding obesity and general anesthesia, Mia Aesthetics prefers tummy tuck candidates to have a BMI of 32 or lower. A BMI of 30 or above is considered obese, so it is possible for obese patients to secure an extended tummy tuck, even at clinics where the BMI limits are set lower than others.
It’s important to note, however, that studies indicate when obese patients undergo an extensive tummy tuck, almost half have post-surgical complications. Most are admittedly minor, but almost 39% is an extremely high complication rate, even for minor issues. Twenty percent experienced more major issues, which is also alarmingly high. It’s of note that even among these patients, however, 97% reported that the procedure had improved the quality of their lives and they would do it again.
How Long Does an Extended Tummy Tuck Last?
As is true of all tummy tuck procedures, lasting results depend on following your surgeon’s post-op instructions and taking care of yourself in the long term. Any significant weight increase can undo the results of your surgery by adding fat back to your stomach, flanks, and lower back. Pregnancy can also undo the results of a tummy tuck or extended tummy tuck, so it’s best to have these procedures when you’re done having children.
Barring pregnancy and weight gain, tummy tucks are considered permanent. Your results can easily last 20 years or more.
Extended Tummy Tuck: Before and After (What to Expect)
Before getting an extended tummy tuck, your doctor may ask you to do a few things to prepare. He will likely ask you to get some bloodwork done to ensure that you’re healthy enough for surgery. As mentioned above, he may also ask you to lower your BMI a bit, too. Your doctor may also require that you stop taking or alter the schedule on which you take certain medications. If you smoke, expect your surgeon to ask that you quit.
After surgery you may feel groggy or tired, but your doctor will give you pain medications before you wake up so you’re not hurting. You may feel a bit stiff and bruised, however. You’ll be wrapped in bandages and will likely have surgical drains protruding from them. These drains help prevent swelling, inflammation, and fluid accumulation at your surgical site. Your doctor will tell you how to care for them until he removes them a few days after your procedure.
Extended tummy tucks are typically performed as outpatient procedures, so you will likely go home the day of your surgery.
How Painful is an Extended Tummy Tuck?
Your doctor will prescribe pain medication to keep you comfortable after your extended tummy tuck, so you shouldn’t experience a lot of pain after the procedure. You will be stiff and sore, however, and will likely need someone to help you stand or sit up. Tummy tuck patients often report feeling a tightness in their abdomens where the skin is pulled taut. This sensation eases as your body gets used to its new contour.
How Long is the Recovery?
Everything is extended when you get an extended tummy tuck, including your recovery time. You should expect a minimum recovery time of 2 to 3 weeks. Some patients require even longer, especially if they have physically demanding jobs. Your surgeon will tell you when you can resume your regular activity and exercise levels, which can take 6 to 8 weeks or more.
Other Types of Tummy Tucks
While an extended tummy tuck may be the right choice for you, there are other options worth considering. As we’ve suggested, a traditional tummy tuck may prove more than adequate if your excess skin and fat are contained to the front of your abdomen. Some patients benefit from a fleur-de-lis tummy tuck, in which both a horizontal and vertical incision is made. This allows doctors to remove excess skin on both the vertical and horizontal planes, which is necessary for some people to achieve their desired results. Some patients need only a mini tummy tuck, which utilizes a smaller incision to correct sagging skin below the navel. If you’re considering an extended tummy tuck, however, you’re not likely to be a good mini tummy tuck candidate.