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How Can I Tell if I Need a Mini or Full Tummy Tuck?

Doctor Answers 25

Mini or Full Tummy Tuck

Based on your photo, you probably have muscle separation above the belly button, not just below. You also appear to have a fair amount of loose skin. If I were to make the recommendation on the photo alone, I would say you need a full tummy tuck since you need correction above the unbilicus as well as below. Of course the definitive recommendation should be made when you have a consultation with a board certified plastic surgeon.

Bay Area Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 47 reviews

Full tummy tuck

If there is enough skin to pinch between the belly button and the pubic area, or if there is a lot of loose skin above the belly button, a full tummy tuck will give the best results.

More limited tummy tucks are available for suitable patients. If very little skin looseness is present, but there is a bulge present (as in this picture), a hybrid tummy tuck can tighten the complete fascia above and below the belly button, and remove a small amount of skin through a short C-section type procedure.

A typical mini tuck just tightens below the belly button. If performed here, it would likely give the "typical mini tuck look" with a flat lower abdomen and a bulging upper abdomen.

Brent Moelleken, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 119 reviews

Full Tummy Tuck


Looking at your frontal view, I would definitely recommend a full tummy tuck. The full tummy tuck scar is a little longer, but it removes a lot more skin. Most patients are very happy with the full tummy tuck because it meets their expectation as to the amount of skin and stretch-mark removal and tightening of the muscle layer. I think most patients who are disappointed with the mini-tummy tuck are so because they really wanted a small scar (and maybe a smaller price) but were disappointed with the lack of tightness in the upper abdomen, lack of adequate removal of most of the stretch-marks and loose skin.

I recommend that you seek a consultation with a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon. They have formal training in abdominoplasty surgery and will probably give you the same advice.

Daniel Reichner, MD
Newport Beach Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

Likely a full Tummy Tuck

If you have a lot of loose skin, they you will need a full tummy tuck. From the picture you have shown if appears that a full tummy tuck would benefit you the most. It will remove the excess skin and fatty tissue as well as contour the shape of your abdomen by tightening the covering of your abdominal muscles.

The best way to know, however, is to have a full evaluation and examination by a board certified plastic surgeon.

You would benefit from a full tummy tuck

The decision of weather to have a mini tuck or a full tuck (Abdominoplasty) is best made in consultation with your plastic surgeon. At that time he or she can best evaluate your particular needs and desire and advise you in a first hand informed manner. However, judging from the photo displayed, I feel the patient would best be served and most satisfied with a full tummy tuck (Abdominoplasty).

Fred Suess, MD
San Francisco Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

Full Tummy Tuck is part of the answer

You have several things that need to be addressed to give you a natural, toned looking midsection. A full abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) will address tightening the muscles and also removing the excess skin which will get rid of the stretch marks and 'dimpling' often seen where there is a pocket of exercise and diet resistant fat.

I nearly always include liposuction with my abdominoplasty cases not only to get rid of the pocket of fat like you're experiencing, but to also sculpt the surrounding areas so there's a sleek, smooth body line. So while doing a full abdominoplasty will address a majority of the problem, the additional liposuction is critical to giving you your best possible outcome.

Steve Byrd, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

Good candidate for an abdominoplasty

Looking at you photos you would be a good candidate for an abdominoplasty. Liposuction alone will not get rid of the excess skin and fat. A complete examination would be needed to determine if you are a good candidate for this elective procedure.

Jeffrey Zwiren, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

Full vs. Mini Tummy Tuck

Thank you for your question.   I generally recommend a full tummy tuck when the skin and muscle laxity involves the upper and central abdomen.   I will often see skin overlying the umbilicus.   If the skin and muscle around the umbilicus is flat, then one may be a candidate for a mini tummy tuck, which involves tightening of the skin and muscle below the umbilicus only.    I would recommend an in office exam by a board certified plastic surgeon to help you make the best decision.   In your case, my best result for you would be a full tummy tuck.  I wish you a safe and healthy recovery.

Dr. Gill

Paul S. Gill, MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 65 reviews

Maybe Full Tummy Tuck

When it comes to a full tummy tuck, it’s all about abdominal wall deformities caused by loose skin, excess fat, and separated muscles. It fixes the area below and above the belly button.

Generally speaking, a full tummy tuck is preferred for women who have had children, however this is not to say that a mini wouldn't work for you. Please see an experienced board certified plastic surgeon to confirm which treatment would be most suitable for you. Judging from your photo, however, you may benefit from a full since the area above and below the navel will be corrected. 

How can I tell if I need a mini or full tummy tuck?

Hello! Thank you for your question and photos! I hope that these answers help! Tummy tuck is an excellent method for shaping the belly and create a flatter and sculpted abdomen after the procedure. Looking at your photos, I do believe that you would be an excellent candidate for this procedure in order to remove the excess skin/soft tissue of your lower abdomen and contour the areas of your belly. Also, abdominal wall tightening may optimize your result. Stretch marks to the level of your umbilicus will also be excised. Also, a continued healthy and active lifestyle prior to the procedure and afterwards is recommended in order to maintain the benefits that the procedure has given to you.

Once you are ready for the procedure, I would likely recommend a full tummy tuck with abdominal wall tightening and liposuction laterall for additional contouring. This would remove the excess skin/soft tissue and stretch marks while contouring your belly. The mini tummy tuck has limited usefulness and limited candidates as it truly only addresses excess skin in a small area above your pubis. It will not address your abdominal wall and the tightening of such, frequently needed to achieve a shapely abdominal wall. While the recovery time is shorter, the benefits afforded to you by a full tummy tuck are much greater and will optimize your result. You should consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon well-versed in body contouring procedures at anytime to go over options to assist you in deciding which procedure(s) would be right for you. Best wishes!

Lewis Albert Andres, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 14 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.