Full Tummy Tuck Vs. Mini Tummy Tuck Recovery?

For a person who has an option of doing the full tummy tuck or the mini, how much worse is the recovery if you go with the full tuck??? Seems like it would be logical to do the full route if the mini tuck is about the about same in recovery. Thoughts? Thanks!!!

Doctor Answers 8

Full Tummy Tuck vs a Mini Tummy Tuck Recovery

The recovery from a full tummy tuck should not be more than a couple of days if you are placed on a rapid recovery program and even shorter form a mini tummy tuck. This does not mean that you are healed and that you can do everything but it does mean that you should be able to get out of the house and do some basic things like shop for groceries and go out to eat. You should also be off your pain medications except perhaps some Aleve or Motrin. In order to be back your regular work outs and doing everything without any discomfort at all takes 4 to 6 weeks and to have everything back to as normal as possible in terms of things like your scars and sensation takes a year.

Choosing between the two procedures should not come to the recovery however, but come to what your goals are and what your problems. In other words, in conjunction with your surgeon, the best surgical option for you would be the procedure that best meets your goals.

I have added a video and web reference regarding a rapid recovery tummy tuck.

I hope that helps.

Best regards.

Kirkland Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 62 reviews

Tummy Tuck

Our full tucks are off work for 2 weeks and then return.  Our minis are off a week or less. Thank you for your question and good luck with everything.

Vivek Bansal, MD
Danville Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Full tummy tuck vs. mini--recovery is similar for both!

I do very few mini tummy tucks, because most patients are not a good candidate and really need the full tummy tuck to achieve their goals. These goals are: tightening of the stretched or widened abdominal muscles, removal and tightening of excess, loose, wrinkled, or stretch-marked abdominal skin (smooth from breast bone to pubic area), and the best (least visible) scar in the bikini line and around an improved belly button. Hernia fixed if present. Lipo on hips if needed. Quick recovery. Drain(s) not used or out quickly if used. "Invisible" short scar. "Flat" upper and entire abdomen even if the patient is overweight. Rapid return to work and activity.

And of course, low cost!

Wow! That seems a lot to ask from a mini tuck! And of course, all of these may not be achieved regardless of choice, but a "full" or standard tummy tuck achieves the majority of these goals with the majority of patients. A mini tuck gives mini results, and still requires healing, drain(s) (usually), muscle repair (in my minis, I repair the muscle from umbilicus to pubis), and limitation of activity for the same period of time.

In other words, a 6-inch scar heals just as fast as a 12-inch scar. So get what you need rather than deluding yourself (or allowing yourself to be seduced by a smooth-talking surgeon) that a mini tuck will give you the results you want with a "faster, or less painful, or less costly" operation. Re-dos cost more, often don't end up as good as if things had been done properly the "first time," and you have the additional time off work, with loss of income, vacation or sick time, and repeat risks (however minimal they are).

I don't believe many patients truly have an option to do "either." You require a full tummy tuck if you have that anatomy, and doing a mini (on that type of patient) will only give you a poor or inadequate result. If you are indeed one of those rare patients who can get a good result from a mini (I do see them, but rarely), then a full tummy tuck is neither possible (the skin is too tight above the belly button), nor necessary. If you require a full tummy tuck and your surgeon is offering (or you are requesting) a mini, you should not expect a result you will be happy with. Think carefully about this!

Richard H. Tholen, MD, FACS
Minneapolis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 255 reviews

Full versus Mini Tummy Tuck

Hello AndiP,

The amount of discomfort and the length of recovery is based mostly on whether muscle plication was performed during the procedure in question.  Length of skin incisions or how much skin is removed does not affect recovery time.  Although rare, 'mini' tummy tucks can also incorporate muscle plication, thereby making them roughly equal to full tummy tucks in terms of discomfort and recovery.

You certainly don't want to pick a 'mini' tummy tuck if you really aren't a candidate for it, and would be better served with a full tummy tuck.  People who do are not as satisfied with their results.  Don't let costs, amount of scaring, anticipation of pain, or length of recovery influence your decision to choose the proper procedure.  I always tell people you'd be better off not doing any procedure than doing the wrong one.

Best of luck!

Gerald Minniti, MD, FACS
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 89 reviews

Full tummy tuck and mini tummy tucks are almost the same recovery

The difference between the recovery from a full tummy tuck and a mini is not enough to justify not doing the full if it will be giving you the better result.  Mini's are rare because most patients have some laxity of skin and or muscle above the umbilicus and minis don't touch those areas and can even make them look worse.

Richard P. Rand, MD, FACS
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 67 reviews

Full tummy tuck vs mini tummy tuck recovery?

Hello!  Thank you for your question! 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. Given your desires, 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. I would highly recommend continued diet and exercise prior to any consideration for body contouring as getting down to your ideal weight prior to the procedure will certainly give you the best results. Also, a continued healthy and active lifestyle will be needed 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 along with some liposuction to the hips/flanks for additional contouring. This would remove the excess skin/soft tissue and stretch marks while contouring your belly. You should consult with a plastic surgeon at anytime to go over options to assist you in deciding which procedure(s) would be right for you. The mini tummy tuck has limited usefulness and limited candidates as it truly only addresses excess skin in a small area above your pubis. While the recovery time is shorter, the benefits afforded to you by a full tummy tuck are much greater and will optimize your result. I typically recommend a 6 week period of no strenuous activity/vigorous exercise along with an abdominal binder for the same time period.  Best wishes!

Lewis Albert Andres, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Mini vs Full tummy tuck

The vast majority of my patients need a full tummy tuck becasue they have a diastasis of the recti muscles( sepration of the abdominal muscles) and alo of extra skin. The insision, which is located in the bikini line, varies depending upon the extent of the loose skin. A mini tuck is unommon and is used in the special situation where the skin excess is limited and where musce repair is either not needed is or minimal. Sine the recovery period is not that much diferent for the 2 procedures you may be better off with the full tummy tuck. But you should review this again with your surgeon, since you are still obviously confused. 

George Lefkovits, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
3.8 out of 5 stars 46 reviews

Tummy tuck choices

The answer is, "it depends".  Mini tucks may involve more or less. For example the muscle separation may or may not be repaired at the same time. Liposuction may or may not be involved. If you truly are a good candidate for a full tummy tuck, you will probably be happier with its results. You might be better off taking the time to do the best job.  

Hugh McLean, MD
Mississauga Plastic Surgeon
3.8 out of 5 stars 7 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.