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Mini or Full Tummy Tuck or Liposuction Above the Navel?

I am not your typical candidate as my problem tummy area is ABOVE the navel. I had surgery 30 years ago and have a scar from my navel to my pubic bone. The skin above that scar is "collecting" in a pool. The rest of my upper tummy is uneven and fatty. My lower abs are flat but scarred.

What procedure is best for me? Mini tummy tuck, full tummy tuck or a liposuction? I am thinking a combo. Also, how do I prevent dogears? I think it is a given with my body type. I'm not overweight; I'm athletic.


Doctor Answers 20

Full tummy tuck vs. mini tuck

For problems of loose skin both above and below the belly buton, only a full tummy tuck will give relief and restore a nice figure. It sounds as if you fall into this category.

Hopefully most of your old scarring will be within the target zone for skin removal for the full tummy tuck.

Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 103 reviews

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Epigastric fullness

You do not mention what type of abdominal procedure you had previously and there are no photos to view so it is impossible to give you any specfic reliable recommendation. However, if you did not have a previous full abdominoplasty, you could possibly have one now and use the upper abdominal fullness to replace the lower, scar abdominal skin.

If this is not the case and the tissue above the navel is not adequate, only a reverse abdominoplasty would correct this or a full abdominoplasty from below with some persistence of scarring of the lower abdomen.

Dog ear results when the angle of the excision at the extreme ends of the incision is wide and can be dealt with by elongating the incision until the ends of the excision are tapered enough to allow the skin to lay down flat. If it is caused by pooching fat, removal of fat under the dogear may be adequate.

Robin T.W. Yuan, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

Mini or full tummy tuck?

The simple answer is that you need to have a consultation with a board certified plastic surgeon to determine which technique is right for you. For most women, a full tummy tuck is a better option. Although there may be longer scars, you are able to address loose skin of the upper and lower abdomen and the belly button tends to stay in a more normal anatomic location than with a mini tummy tuck which may lower it.

Benefits of a Full Tummy Tuck

Based on the information you provided, it sounds like you would benefit from a full (standard) tummy tuck to address the excess skin above the naval. You seem like an ideal candidate for a full tummy tuck since it involves repair of the rectus muscles and removal of the loose, excess skin. This procedure improves the body contours and tightens the appearance of the abdomen area. A mini tummy tuck would not be the best procedure for you since you have emphasized that your problem area is above the naval. A mini tummy tuck only involves work below the naval. A picture would have been very helpful. I would advice you to consult with a board certified plastic surgeon to discuss the best and safest possible options. In order to achieve the best possible results, you must prepare yourself for the recovery period and have a good support system.Make sure to follow all of your surgeons directions to prevent any complications during yor healing. You will be required to wear an abdominal binder for a month and stay in the hunched postion for a  month as well to prevent any superficial openings. After removing all of the excess skin and tightening the skin, there will be quite a bit of tension on the incision if you stand straight. This is a very invasive surgery, so make sure to pick your surgeon wisely. Good luck to you!

Individualized recommendations

It sounds like you could use a combination of the various procedures you mention. I try to add as few scars as possible and yet maximize results. I would definitely make use of the scar you already have by eliminating it or using it to achieve tightening of the lower abdomen. I definitely would need to see you prior to any further recommendations!

Edward J. Domanskis, MD
Newport Beach Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 24 reviews

BEST Treatment for Skin Looseness above the Belly Button and a Vertical Surgical Scar Below

Abdominal skin looseness in reality represents much more and implies abdominal wall muscle stretching and looseness as well. A vertical mid line scar below the belly button is never attractive. It is usually retracted and when accompanied by fat deposition it often comes to resemble a small rear end.

To correct such a deformity one must be honest with his patient and ensure that every element contributing to the unattractive is treated. Failure to do so ALWAYS results in a disappointed patient.

As such, to get a flatter tummy, the loose, stretched out abdominal muscles MUST be "taken in". Liposuction / Diet / Exercise will never accomplish it. The ONLY effective way to achieve it is by a well performed "full" Tummy Tuck.

To remove the skin looseness both above and below the belly button the skin of the front of the tummy needs to be undermined / lifted from the muscles and the excess surgically removed. Skin shrinking "treatments" such as Laser assisted Liposuction (LAL - ProLipo, SmartLipo etc) and Thermage rarely work reliably on extensive skin looseness and are associated with potentially serious complications which few of the websites aggressively marketing them choose to disclose. Remember - Liposuction removes fat - it does NOT shrink skin.

The vertical scar below the belly button CAN be easily removed by a full tummy tuck.

For all these reasons and more, I strongly feel you would be much better served by a "full" tummy tuck. Doing anything less would give an inferior result.

Dr. P. Aldea

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 69 reviews

Traditional Tummy Tuck or a Reverse Tummy Tuck will do the job

Sight unseen it is difficult to provide a definitive answer to your question. It sounds like your problem is predominantly one of excessive or loose skin in your upper abdomen. If this is the case rule out liposuction or a mini tuck as possible solutions. Liposuction does not tighten loose skin and may in fact increase the skin laxity. A mini tuck will help only the loose skin below the navel.

A full abdominoplasty is the only one of the three options that would definitely address the loose skin above the navel. Another viable alternative would be a Reverse Tummy Tuck . This operation pulls the loose skin upwards and removes the redundancy by excising it beneath the breast resulting in scars in the breast folds.

Reverse tummy tuck useful for loose skin above belly button.


Of course, you need a detailed, expert evaluation. You should just know that there are a very few women who are good candidates for a reverse tummy tuck, where the skin is removed upward, with scars under the breasts.

George J. Beraka, MD (retired)
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

Find a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon you like and visit for a consult

Hi there-

Without a more clear understanding of your particular goals, a careful examination, and a review of your options in order to get an idea of what you are willing to undergo, it is very difficult to say what your options are, or which might be in your best interests.

In fact, I would be concerned that to give you my opinion with so little information would be unfair to the surgeons you end up visiting- especially if they (after spending their valuable time understanding you and your body) disagree with whatever opinion I give you via this website.

My best advice for you is to find a surgeon certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery and visit for a consultation. A good surgeon will be able to offer you options, review the pros and cons with you, and explain why the procedure they are recommending for you is your best bet.

How to improve your upper abdomen's appearance

I don't want to frighten you, but most lifts, including a mini and full tummy tuck, leave you with unsightly scars. It used to be that a tuck was the only option for a woman with a buldging tummy. Then liposuction came along, and we could do a smaller procedure with virtually no scarring. However, people who have especially slack skin in their midsection need more than what liposuction alone can offer.

Typical candidates for a full tummy tuck are women with drooping abdomens after pregnancy, women and men who've lost a great deal of weight, menopausal women, or older people with loose skin due to age. In the tummy tuck, the skin from the rib cage down to the pelvic area is tightened, and the navel is moved up and secured in a new positon. A mini-tummy tuck is especially effective for people who look pretty good from the navel up. The main difference between the 2 procedures is that the mini-tummy tuck doesn't require moving or reconstructing the navel and the incision is shorter than the one made in a full tummy tuck. However, since you are primarily concerned with the area above your navel, the mini-tummy tuck would typically not be a great option for you.

You might be a candidate for a non-invasive procedure called Thermage (no incision!) that can tighten skin and stimulate your body to make healthier collagen—the building block that provides structure to your skin. The procedure uses radiofrequency technology called ThermaCool that has been clinically proven to tighten and gently lift skin. Fast and easy, Thermage requires no downtime from normal activities. And unlike laser treatments, Thermage can be performed on patients of all skin types. Thermage can be used not only for sagging facial, neck, and eyelid skin; but also all over the body, including the abdomen. You can tighten and lift without surgery, injections, or downtime.

Michelle Copeland, MD, DMD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 8 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.