T-incision Tummy Tuck?

I'm 58, and according to the surgeon, in good shape with an hour glass figure. My plastic surgeon says I need a T-incision Tummy Tuck to address excess fat above the belly button, but I can't find where anyone else has had it done that way. Do I really need this? I'm not sure why a T-incision below the belly button would be helpful in removing fat above it.

Doctor Answers 25

Many options now in tummy tucks

A few years ago, the only common options for patients were a mini tuck or a full tummy tuck.

Now, there are options for almost every anatomy and every problem.

The "T" tummy tuck is a lesser tummy tuck than a full tummy tuck, and is usually used for patients who want to have a low incision but don't have enough excess skin and fat to do a full tummy tuck without having a high incision. The "T" represents where the old belly button hole was. Sometimes it comes down to whether the patient would prefer a "T" incision with a very low incision, or a higher incision with no "T".

Other options include a reverse abdominoplasty done through breast lift incisions, endoscopic tummy tucks, a hybrid abdominoplasty (short incision, full tightening of the fascia), and several different mini-tucks, all depending on the nature and location of the excess skin and fascia.

Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 103 reviews

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T-incision or Fleur de Lis Tummy Tuck

The Fleur de Lis (French for Lilly Flower, the symbol of the French monarchy from its earliest days) is a fanciful way to describe a inverted T scar patterned abdominoplasty.

By removing skin and fat both inferiorly and centrally, this operation can better contour the trunk in cases of extreme skin laxity without necessarily having to do a lower body lift and liposuction. However - the cost is not minimal. You are left with a scar BOTH from hip to hip but also with another from where the ribs meet in the midline to the pubis.

Personally, I think a Tummy Tuck is a wonderful operation. But it has a huge stumbling block stopping a lot of women from having it - the scar from hip to hip.

As surgeons we can only exchange tummy tightness for this permanent scar. Even tough this scar can be designed to be hidden by most conventional underwear a lot of women prefer to remain flabby than have this single scar. When it comes to adding another, much more visible and harder to conceal scar, we should think about it carefully. Yes, it can bring about nice results but the permanent cost are 2 lengthy permanent scars which a lot more people would find very unappealing.

If the patient ALREADY has a vertical abdominal scar. If the patient has a huge amount of laxity. If the patient insists over and over again that he / she does not care about the scars along as all the flab is gone - I would perform this procedure very comfortably.

But - I would not offer it to people who would get equivalent results with a standard Abdominoplasty or a Lockwood High Lateral Tension Abdominoplasty.

Good Luck.

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

There are two situations in which a T is needed

If a patient already has a vertical scar on the abdomen, it might as well be used to get more skin off in a tummy tuck along with the horizontal scar in the lower abdomen. This is often the case after "open" gastric bypass surgeries followed by massive weight loss.

There are also some rare patients who have a long narrow torso where much more skin wants to come off side to side with a vertical scar than up and down with a horizontal scar. If they don't already have a vertical scar, I usually just do the horizontal incision but tell them that I won't get all the skin off. Most patients would be much happier without the vertical scar if at all possible.

T pattern Abdominoplasty: Massive Weight Loss and Choosing a Tummy Tuck Procedure. Fleur de Lis

Massive weight loss patients have excessive skin after they reach their weight plateau. In some patients, a typical lower incision abdominoplasty would not tighten the waistline so an alternative procedure can be performed in experienced hands. The surgery is named after the French Fleur de Lis, or triflower. This entails a vertical incision and a horizontal incision in order to tighten the waistline and reduce the abdominal bulge.

This can also be performed selectively in patients that have a midline incision from a previous surgery such as a gastric bypass. There are a lot of alternatives to tummy tucks and experience really counts in choosing the right incision with your plastic surgeon.

Raffy Karamanoukian, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 57 reviews

T-Incision or Anchor Pattern Tummy Tuck

T-Incision or Anchor Pattern Tummy Tucks.   A few patients have severe post-pregnancy skin and soft tissue excess that cannot be adequately corrected by means of a horizontal, suprapubic incision alone. In select patients, a vertical midline incision can be added to allow removal of skin excess in a horizontal as well as vertical direction. this will always be discussed with a patient prior to surgery. 

If the concern is excess skin above the belly button, an anchor pattern abdominoplasty may be avoided and instead, a reverse upper abdominoplasty , often in conjunction with a mini lower abdominoplasty may be performed.

The nature of the tummy tuck surgery that will best suit each patient is determined during the consultation and is based on the physical examination. For all patients, I draw the proposed incisions on their body with a skin marker (it washes off easily) so that it is clear what the nature of the resulting surgical scars will be. I also outline liposuction areas if that is part of the surgical plan.

Michael Law, MD
Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 48 reviews

Detail regarding abdominoplasty skin patterns

River -

Forgive the poor drawings below - but hopefully this will give you some insight.

Typically "inverted T" pattern incisions for abdominoplasty are used to address excess skin above the umbilicus. And in my practice the skin excess usually has to be fairly dramatic (typical of massive weight loss patients who have successfully undergone gastric bypass surgery). The ability to remove excess skin above the umbilicus comes at a cost of additional scar as well increasing the risk of poor healing (as Dr. Di Sai mentions).

Typical abdominoplasty excision pattern - note that the skin is pulled downward to improve the abdominal contour.

This is the typical post-op result with a transverse scar low along the abdomen and a scar around the umbilicus.

A inverted T abdominoplasty (as pictured below).

You can see that this skin excision pattern allows for the skin to be pulled downward and also from side to side. This additional direction of skin pull can be useful for patients that have a significant amount of extra skin above the umbilicus and where that downward pull alone may not provide enough of an improvement.

Here's a picture of the typical end result.

I hope this helps. In my practice the traditional abdominoplasty incision for patients that have not lost significant (more than 100 lbs) amounts of weight is usually all I need to get a great result.

Steven Williams, MD

Many options in abdominoplasty: Fleur de lis or Inverted T

As you can see from the detailed responses left by my qualified colleages, there are many options for abodminoplasty.

Fleur de lis (or French Lily) or Inverted T is called that because of its appearance.

Please understand that what is above your belly button now will not necessarily be thiere after a tummy tuck. In a traditional tummy tuck this area is often transposed down to the level of the pubis.

However, I am sure your surgeon chose this approach for a good reason and you may want to explore these in greater detail.

I general use the T incsion in patients with a pre-existing incision there or with patients who have so amany stretch marks that a scar there will barely be visible.

However where the two sides meet the pubic incision generally has a higher potential for delayed healing. If you pursue this approach, you should absolutely abandon smoking for a minimum of 4-6 weeks prior to your surgery.

In the end, I would defer to your surgeon's opinion because he had the benefit of examining you!

Hope this helps!

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 54 reviews

A 'T' incision can be used in multiple instances...

A 'T' incision may be used in several instances. One is in the massive weight loss patient in which there is too much skin laxity in both the vertical and horizontal dimensions.

Another instance where a 'T' incision may be indicated is in the thin patient with some skin excess (too much for a mini-abdominoplasty). The reason to add this additional 'T' closure of vertical closure in the midline is to close the original belly button skin opening that has now been pulled down lower.

Sanjay Grover, MD
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 124 reviews

A T incision may be used if there is a lot of laxity requiring excision in two dimensions.

A T - incision may be used when there is a lot of laxity such as in patients who have lost extreme amounts of weight ( generally over 100 lbs) to remove skin both in the vertical and the horizontal direction. In these cases the horizontal incision goes from hip bone to hip bone along the lower abdomen and the vertical insion goes from the pubic area up to the breast bone. A small T incision can also be used when there is very little laxity in the abdominal skin. In these cases there is not enough laxity to take all the skin off up to above the belly button and so a small vertical incision is necessary to close the skin where the belly button used to come thru.

Susan E. Downey, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
3.5 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

T-Incision may describe someone on the verge

In my practice, I will evaluate the excess skin both above and below the belly button to decide what is the most appropriate treatment.

When there is excess skin below the belly button, but not above it, I will suggest a mini-tummy tuck.

When there is a large amount of skin above and below the belly button I will suggest a full tummy tuck.

When there is a large amount of skin below the belly button and moderate amount of excess skin above the belly button, I may not be able to pull the skin tight enough to get the umbilical incision out in the removal of skin through a low horizontal incision.

In this case, we may leave a small inverted T. This is a much better option then pulling the skin too tight and suffering with wide ugly scars and possible separation.

Some doctors will allow the transverse scar to ride up higher on the abdomen to avoid the "T", but I prefer to have the horizontal scar within the bikini line at all times.

Robert M. Freund, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 22 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.