Full tummy tuck and mini tummy tuck differences

I just had a patient leave my office who was a little disappointed with the results of her mini tummy tuck surgery/mini abdominoplasty. She wanted the result of a full abdominoplasty surgery/full tummy tuck surgery with a mini surgery!  This was despite my having spent a while explaining the differences to her (and documenting that I had recommended a full tummy tuck to begin with!). Obviously I should have tried harder to convince her to do the cosmetic plastic surgery she said she did not want!

I have written about the differences between a full and a mini tummy tuck/abdominoplasty in other posts:

Mini tummy tuck explained

Tummy tuck or liposuction

How is a tummy tuck abdominoplasty done

Let’s try another way.

Full tummy tuck/abdominoplasty

A full tummy tuck surgery includes four basic steps the way I perform it:

  1. Liposuction of the abdomen and flanks
  2. Tightening of the muscles of the abdomen from breastbone to pubic bone
  3. Removal of the skin between the umbilicus (belly button) and pubic area
  4. Re-positioning of the belly button (umbilicus)

Initial healing (read: getting back to work) after a full abdominoplasty is about 10 days in my patients.

Area of skin removed with Full tummy tuckfull tummy tuck

Here is a schematic of the abdomen. In a full tummy tuck, all the skin in the shaded area is removed. The belly button is then has a stab incision in the skin that is pulled down.

Mini tummy tuck or mini abdominoplasty

A mini tummy tuck surgery includes:

  1. Liposuction of the abdomen and flanks
  2. Tightening of the muscles between the belly button and pubis only
  3. Removal of a few inches of skin above the pubic area
  4. No movement of umbilicus

The initial healing period lasts five days.

Here is a schematic of the area of skin removed.

mini abdominoplasty skin removal

mini tummy tuck

Note that only a little skin is removed from below the umbilicus, not all the skin as in a full abdominoplasty. This means that if you have loose skin above your belly button, a mini abdominoplasty will not help! You will still have loose skin there.

For some patients, the quicker healing time or lack of scarring around the umbilicus is the deciding factor for which procedure to have. In my experience, only few patients are good candidates for a mini tummy tuck, and most benefit more from a full abdominoplasty. Once patients realize that the size of the abdominal scar is the same in a full or mini abdominoplasty, they often choose a full tummy tuck.

Those who still want a mini procedure probably need more convincing!

Morad Tavallali, M.D., FACS