Abdominoplasty: U-M technique

I recently had an inquiry from “Kim A” about Abdominoplasty techniques. She asks whether the procedure is called a “U-M” Abdominoplasty or the “W-M” procedure?

Well, the lettering can be pretty confusing. Unfortunately, there’s a big movement in plastic surgery to give procedures catchy names so that they can be given an aura of uniqueness. What I think is more important is that the patient understand his/her options so they can pick the procedure most appropriate for them.

“U-M” abdominoplasty is a variety of what is commonly called an “extended” abdominoplasty. Normally, during a Tummy tuck, the skin below the belly button to the pubic mound is excised leaving a scar from hip bone to hip bone. The placement of the scar is variable. Some scars ride high, midway between the belly button and the pubic mound. Scars can also be placed low so they are hidden in the “Bikini line”. Other scars are shaped like a “W” and ride higher on the sides so patients can use one piece bathing suits that are “high cut” on the sides. So, choice of incision location is important.

A photo of a patient's lower body, showing an abdominoplasty scar.

The shape of the scar, to me, depends on the type of underwear or bathing suit the patient likes to wear.

The incision location should be discussed before the surgery so that you fully understand the final surgical plan.

The extended Abdominoplasty was designed to get additional contouring in the area of the love handles. Contouring in this area can be done by liposuction alone, taking extra skin (thus the “extended” name), or a combination of both. You can see some of my results in the Tummy tuck procedure gallery. It all depends on whether the patient wants tighter skin in the love handle area, or smaller scars. As a matter of fact, if you extend the “extended abdominoplasty” scar so that both ends of the scar meet in the back, you get a lower Body lift.

The most important things to think about are not whether it’s the“U-M” or “W-M” Abdominoplasty, but where you want the scar placed, how long you want the scar, how much contouring you want in the love handle area, etc.

Patients should always feel comfortable talking to their surgeon before the procedure about these details. The incision location will vary from physician to physician and highly influence your result so be sure to find out your surgeon’s plan!

By Dr. Ricardo L. Rodriguez MD Board Certified Plastic Surgeon Cosmeticsurg Baltimore, Maryland Ricardo L. Rodriguez on American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

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2 thoughts on “Abdominoplasty: U-M technique”

  • Patricia says:

    Will a tummy tuck help tighten the upper thigh area? I've been reading about the high tension lateral tummy tuck. I'm a young 55, healthy, 5'8" and 155 lbs. I've never had children and my stomach is flat but I have heavy, loose skin in that area that is affecting my upper thigh area. When the skin on my tummy is pulled tight, my thighs appear as they once did... the way I'd like them to be now. I thank you in advance for your response.
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Patricia: The procedure you are referring to, the High Lateral Tension tummy tuck is also referred to as the Lockwood technique. Few Plastic Surgeons use it. I have been using it exclusively for tummy tucks and body lifts for almost 10 years now. It does pull the skin of your upper thighs because the deep layer off closure pulls on the scarpa's fascia. I don't place the scar as high as Lockwood did laterally, as women nowadays wear low cut jeans and bikinis, but scar placement is not as important as putting tension on the right layers. Read more on this post about other advantages of doing the Lockwood technique. It helps decrease post op swelling, sensation to the skin is retained better, and scars are finer. We'd love to help you out, we do this routinely, and we get a lot of out of town patients who find out about the Lockwood procedure on the internet. Call Kelly at kelly@cosmeticsurg.net, she'd be happy to help you.