How Does a Doctor Decide if You Need a Tummy Tuck or Mini?

I've had two pregnancies which have left my lower abdomen all the way up to my navel with stretch marks and loose skin. I also have scaring on my navel from a piercing and laparoscopic surgery. I am fit and active, I have flat abs but I have a lot of excess skin which is noticeable when I bend over and when I lay on my side (like an empty pouch/deflated balloon) I am planning on having surgery in early 2012 and I guess my question is would I need a tummy tuck or mini tummy?

Doctor Answers 24

Mini or Full Tummy Tuck

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The determination of whether to do a mini or a full tummy tuck depends on what issues you are trying to address. A full tummy tuck often involves tightening of the muscle, excising excess skin and transposing the belly button while a mini tummy tuck usually involves only skin removal with possibly some lower abdominal muscle tightening. It is therefore important to figure out exactly what your issues are before recommending one or the other.  If you have loose skin only below the belly button and your belly button is not to low to start with, you may get away waith a mini, but if you also have a roll above the belly button and want everything flat, you may need a full. Visit a board certified plastic surgeon and they can look at your issues and hopefully get you the best result possible

Full tummy tuck is needed if there is excess skin above the belly button

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Hi CiciRider,

The answer as to whether you need a full or mini tummy tuck is fairly straight foward.  Your plastic surgeon will examine you and determine how much skin laxity you have about the belly button.  If there is a significant amount of excess or lax skin above the belly button, then you a full tummy tuck will give you a better result.  In some patients, and this is not the usual case, there is only excess skin below the belly button.  If this excess skin is fairly minimal, a mini will do.  However, if there is extensive excess skin below the belly button, you will still need a full tummy tuck, which will give the best result.  Hope this helps.

Tracy M. Pfeifer, MD, MS

Full Tummy tuck vs. Mini Tummy Tuck

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Most patients who have had children and have the loose, damaged skin that you are talking about would benefit from a fully tummy tuck with muscle repair.  The best way to know FOR SURE is to have an examination by a board certified plastic surgeon.  Be careful when choosing your surgeon because many will try to make the patient happy with a shorter scar (mini tummy tuck) but the results will not be the best.  Communicate your desires and goals to your surgeon to make sure you are going to get the outcome you are wanting.

Mini or full tummy tuck?

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Most patients after childbirth will benefit from a full tummy tuck. If you have limited laxity that is mostly below the belly button, then a mini tummy tuck might be of benefit. The incision is a little shorter with a mini tummy tuck and there is no incision around the belly button.

Richard Dale Reynolds, MD
El Paso Plastic Surgeon

Tummy tuck

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Only by examination of your skin laxity, muscle laxity one will be able to advise you properly.

From the picture posted, you do not need any thing,

Samir Shureih, MD
Baltimore Plastic Surgeon

A full tummy tuck is best, a mini will not be sufficient

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In order to remove the stretch marks, it is necessary to remove a larger area of skin than is possible with a mini.  The muscle repair will also help give you a tighter belly button.  The incision line needs to be kept down low, so you can wear a bikini.  Also, it should be a gentle concave scar, not a straight line or a W.  The limitation with a mini is that the belly button is not released, so that just a few inches of skin can be removed from the lower abdomen.  This is not enough for most women.  You also want to look good when you bend over.  A mini will be insufficient to take care of this (which is why we do few minis).  You can view some examples at my website.

Mini or full abdominoplasty

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I would recommend you get a consultation from a board certified plastic surgeon and maybe a second opinion if the first does not sound correct to you. It is hard to tell by the photos you submitted. But I think that a mini is the most that I would recommend on you, with possibly laser treatments to help the stretch marks. Your upper abdomen looks pretty good. That is where the decision for a mini to a full gets made. The umbilical area and the upper abdomen will not be helped with a mini abdominoplasty

Full or mini tummy tuck

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It all depends on the amount of skin laxity and muscle laxity you have.  Most patients do better with the full tummy tuck if laxity is significant.   A select few may obtain an adequate result with the mini tummy tuck if the problem is mostly below the belly button.  Donald R. Nunn MD  Atlanta Plastic Surgeon.

Full tummy tuck or mini?

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A full tummy tuck is needed if there is excess skin above the belly button as well as below it. If there is excess skin only below the belly button, a lower or "mini" tummy tuck is usually sufficient.  If there is a loose skin below the belly button and only a VERY MILD  amount of skin excess above it, AND if the belly button is relatively high and could stand to be lowered a centimeter or two, then a modified "mini" with an umbilical float (lower the belly button from underneath and reattach it a bit lower) may be possible to just "pull out" that small amount of excess above the belly button.  Realistically, there are ot many women who are candidates for this modification, but you might be depending on your exam.  If you have very mild excess above the belly button and opt for a full tummy tuck to fix this, be aware that a vertical scar resulting from closure of your old belly button hole as it moves down will be present, and the less loose skin above the higher this resulting scar will be as it does not move down very far.

Patient Should Decide On Mini vs Full Tummy Tuck

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You should seek one or more consultations with board-certified plastic surgeons (who preferably are members of ASAPS).  During these consultations you will hopefully be presented with the benefits and risks of both a full and a mini tummy tuck.  Following this you should be able to make the choice for which procedure si better suited for you.  I will say that from your photo it appears that, if you elect to have a full tummy tuck, you have little enough excess skin that a vertical incision as well as the normal horizontal incision may be necessary.

John Whitt, MD (retired)
Louisville Plastic Surgeon

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.