Mini or Full Tummy Tuck? All of Your Questions Answered

Mini or Full Tummy Tuck? All of your questions answered.

One of the most asked questions on RealSelf, a website that connects patients with board-certified plastic surgeons, comes from people who want to know if they need a mini or full tummy tuck. I hear the same questions at my Los Angeles plastic surgery practice. In many cases, I recommend a technique that isn’t often discussed—a lower abdominoplasty.

In this blog post, I’ll describe that technique and address what makes a patient a good candidate for a mini tummy tuck or a full tummy tuck. I’ll also explain how a pubic lift is different from tummy tuck surgery and why body contouring procedures are truly transformative.

When Is a Tummy Tuck the Right Solution?

Abdominoplasty—tummy tuck surgery—is one of the most common body contouring procedures performed by plastic surgeons. It’s an excellent option for both women and men who have excess skin after losing a significant amount of weight. Women who have had children often get tummy tuck surgery when they want to regain a flat stomach after discovering that exercise and dieting aren’t enough on their own.

Other patients who can benefit from a tummy tuck are people who have lost weight either through lifestyle changes or after undergoing weight-loss surgery. In some of these cases, a tummy tuck is combined with other body contouring procedures such as a thigh lift, arm lift, or other skin tightening surgery.

What Are the Benefits of a Tummy Tuck?

Our tummy tuck patients are highly satisfied with the results because of the dramatic changes created by the procedure. During their consultations, many of these patients say that they are extremely self-conscious about their abdomens’ appearance—often to the point that they avoid undressing in front of their spouses or partners.

Tummy tuck surgery changes that perspective because it results in:

  • A youthful-looking body 
  • Improved skin laxity 
  • A flatter stomach 
  • Firm skin 

You can see these results in our gallery of tummy tuck before-and-after photos.

What Happens to the Bellybutton?

Patients are sometimes not aware that a tummy tuck involves repositioning the bellybutton. That’s necessary because the abdominal skin is pulled down after removing the excess skin, and it’s important that the bellybutton remains in a natural-looking abdominal position.

Plastic surgeons tend to develop their own techniques for moving and reshaping bellybuttons as part of tummy tuck surgery. These are features of the technique I use:

  • Hide the scar by placing it slightly on the inside edge.
  • Remove some fat surrounding the umbilicus to recreate youthful contours.
  • Use a crescent-shaped skin excision to create a natural-appearing upper fold of skin.
  • Deepen the base of the umbilicus to create an “innie” bellybutton (unless an “outie” is requested).
  • Bury the external sutures so that stitch marks are not visible on the tension-free closure.

I advise studying the appearance of patients’ bellybuttons when looking at a plastic surgeon’s before-and-after photos to ensure you like the outcomes.

Is a Pubic Lift a Tummy Tuck Alternative?

A pubic lift is actually an important part of the tummy tuck procedures I perform. The procedure tightens the pad of fatty tissue that covers the pubic bone, called the mons pubis, and the surrounding area. This is an area that tends to sag after a woman has children or after significant weight loss, and a pubic lift ensures patients are confident in their bodies without clothes on.

Image of tummy tuck incision areas for three different types of tummy tucks.

What Are the Alternative Tummy Tuck Techniques?

When people considering abdominoplasty ask on RealSelf or other online forums if they’re good candidates for a mini tummy tuck, I explain that the answer hinges on whether their concerns include loose skin above the bellybutton. For example, one woman who asked this question had fairly tight and smooth skin on her upper abdomen, and I recommended focusing on the area below the bellybutton with a lower abdominoplasty.

A lower abdominoplasty differs from a mini tummy tuck because the incision is longer. The longer incision allows me to remove all of the lower abdominal excess skin. Using the lower abdominoplasty technique, I make the incision low enough that it’s concealed by bikini bottoms. Unlike a full tummy tuck, a lower abdominoplasty doesn’t involve repositioning the bellybutton.

When Is a Mini Tummy Tuck the Best Option?

A fairly small percentage of patients are good candidates for a mini tummy tuck because it’s limited to people with minimal excess skin. Women who have a small flap of skin in the middle of the lower abdomen are the best candidates for a mini tummy tuck. Unlike a full tummy tuck, the mini tummy tuck technique doesn’t address abdominal muscles that are separated during pregnancy (a condition called diastasis recti).

Image of a woman showing the Mommy Makeover treatment areas. Breast enhancement, Tummy Tuck, Liposuction, and Labiaplasty.

A mini tummy tuck won’t tighten skin above your bellybutton. Some patients ask about liposuction as an alternative to a mini tummy tuck, but liposuction actually increases the skin’s laxity.

As a plastic surgeon who specializes in body contouring procedures and plastic surgery after weight loss, I’ve performed thousands of tummy tuck surgeries using a variety of techniques. If you’re considering a tummy tuck, request a consultation at our Marina del Rey practice near Los Angeles using the online form. Or call us at (310) 300-1779 to schedule an appointment.

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