Mini abdominoplasty

Every so often, I see a cosmetic plastic surgery patient who is a candidate for a mini tummy tuck.  Only every so often.  Even though I have performed hundreds of full tummy tucks, or abdominoplasties, over the past 20 years, I have only performed a few dozen mini abdominoplasties. Why?

Mini tummy tuck plastic surgery

Mini abdominoplasty surgery is a procedure that, in my hands, involves:

  • liposuction of the upper and lower abdomen
  • removal of 1-2 inches of skin above the pubic bone at the bikini line
  • tightening of the muscles of the abdomen below the belly button

This cosmetic procedure is best for patients who have:

  • a moderate amount of fat in the abdomen
  • excellent skin tone of the upper abdomen with no wrinkling
  • a flat upper abdomen—tight muscles  above the umbilicus

The truth of the matter is that there are few patients who need a tummy tuck who fall into all of these categories. In my experience as a plastic surgeon, most patients either require only a liposuction of the abdomen or a full tummy tuck if they have loose skin in that area. Few patients who have loose skin have it only in the area below the belly button—most will have loose skin everywhere, requiring a full abdominoplasty.

The differences between the surgery techniques of a full and a mini tummy tuck are a lot less that one would think, but the results have enormous differences.


the removal of skin from the lower abdomen results in scars in both situations. The length of the scar is the same in a mini and a full tummy tuck—it’s based on the looseness of the skin below the belly button. There is no advantage in this area of getting a mini abdominoplasty.


Tightening of only the lower part of the abdominal muscles usually leads to an exaggerated fullness of the upper abdomen if the patient has loose muscles there. Most women who have had children have looseness of both the upper and lower abdominal muscles. Surgery on just the lower half makes the belly look strange. There is no advantage in this area of getting a mini abdominoplasty, either.

Fat removal

In my cosmetic practice, I perform the same liposuction in both my full and mini tummy tucks, including liposuction of the love handles. Once again, there is no advantage for a mini tummy tuck here.

Ease of recovery from surgery

Since a mini abdominoplasty involves less muscle tightening than a full tummy tuck, the pain associated with a mini tummy tuck is lower. Typically, patients need 4-5 days of recovery as opposed to the 10 days needed with a full tummy tuck. The pain from these surgeries is mainly from the muscle tightening. The incision and liposuction have much less pain associated with them.

I see few patients who could truly benefit from just a mini abdominoplasty. A  full tummy tuck leaves less room for disappointment and almost always gives a better cosmetic surgery result. Nevertheless, some patients are perfect candidates for a mini tuck. My wife was one, and she has had great results. Your cosmetic plastic surgeon will be able to help you choose the right surgery; always ask at least two surgeons if you are not sure!