Full Tummy Tuck or Mini for stretch marks and loose skin

I have 4 year old daughter. When I was pregnant I went from 115 lbs to 198 lbs... all in the belly!!! I have lost a lot of it and now, like the typical story, im left with stretch marks and loose skin... I am not too worried about stretch marks but desire that flat, tight mid section I once had. Does it seem I need a full or would a mini suffice? I get worried when i see photos of fulls and the stories. A mini seems more skin tightening, but i just dont know if i need more? any thoughts?

Doctor Answers 23

Treatment for your stretch marks and loose skin

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In your case, a mini tummy tuck would only give you mini improvements. I would recommend a full tummy tuck to treat your anatomy and based on a physical exam, I would likely recommend adjunctive liposuction of your waist to smooth out your love handles.   Please visit with an ASPS member board certified plastic surgeon to learn more about your options.

Full tummy tuck or mini tummy tuck for stretch marks

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A tummy tuck is a safe and effective procedure to contour the abdomen, create a tight waist, and remove extra skin, fat, and stretch marks.

In our practice, we feel that as every patient is unique so is every tummy tuck. In our initial consult we spent a great deal of time talking to the patients understand what their goals are, the areas that they would most like to address as this helps us create a surgical plan that will provide the best result possible. We very commonly work with women who have had children in the past and are interested in abdominal contouring. These patients benefit greatly from a tummy tuck where we excise skin and fat that can remove the majority of stretch marks or sometimes all stretch marks it for stretch marks are confined to the low abdomen. In these patients, if they do not require a muscle repair, it may be possible to address the stretch marks and avoid a full tummy tuck.
Your best is to work with a plastic surgeon that is board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and has a great deal of experience in many variety of tummy tucks are possible. Such a surgeon will be able to evaluate you and your body and help you come up with a surgical plan that will address your goals.

Mini operations often get mini results

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I am a huge proponent of minimally invasive surgery, when it is appropriate. However, when it comes to abdominal contouring following pregnancy, I find that a "mini tummy tuck" is appropriate for only a small subset of patients. When patients present to me for revision of a mini tummy tuck, the complaint is frequently the same: "I have this bulge above my belly button that was never there before." With a mini tummy tuck, most surgeons do not tighten the abdominal wall muscles located above the belly button. Therefore if you have laxity of the entire anterior abdomen, a full tummy tuck is needed.

Kevin Brenner, MD, FACS
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 23 reviews

Full or Mini Tummy Tuck for Stretch Marks and Loose Skin

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Although the two procedures, tummy tuck and mini tummy tuck, have a similar name, they treat different conditions. A mini tummy tuck is best suited for women who don't have stretch marks or saggy skin, but have a pouch below the belly button. The mini is not a good skin tightening procedure, it really doesn't take care of stretch marks, and it does not take care of any muscle wall separation above the belly button.

The tummy tuck addresses the three components of your abdomen: the skin, fat, and muscle. The rectus abdominis muscle is the vertical muscle in the middle of your abdomen. It functions much the same as how shoe laces work in a shoe. If your rectus abdominis muscles are separated, you can only firm up your tummy with a repair of the muscle, or a tummy tuck.

See the web reference to learn more about the difference between a Tummy Tuck and a Mini Tummy Tuck and the video to see me discuss abdominoplasty in further detail.

Ricardo L. Rodriguez, MD
Baltimore Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 98 reviews

Only a full tummy tuck will correct the upper abdomen

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The differences between a full and mini tummy tuck can be confusing. Both will allow a full repair of the sit-up muscles in the abdomen, and correct the lower skin laxity. However, the full tummy tuck will release the skin at the belly button and allow correction of the laxity above and round the center of the abdomen. The loss of elasticity you show in your photos makes the full tummy tuck the better procedure.

Best of luck,


Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 44 reviews

Big problems need big procedures

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In looking at your photos, my first reaction is that you have quite a big problem which in my experience would require a big procedure, that is a full tummy tuck, as the other physicians have stated. I cannot tell how much of a bulge you have, so I would say that it is likely you would need your muscle tightened.

Victor Au, MD (retired)
Chapel Hill Plastic Surgeon

Full Tummy Tuck or Mini for stretch marks and loose skin

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Thanks for all the posted photos. My choice is a FULL TUMMY TUCK. As most of the other posters state. From MIAMI Dr. Darryl j. Blinski

Full vs mini tummy tuck: your surgeon will advise

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Although the pictures are very helpful, a personal examination is really going to be what decides the best option. In the leaning forward view, there appears to be enough laxity to indicate a full tummy tuck is best, but in the upright view (arms raised?) it appears that you have a high belly button and sometimes there is a version of a mini that works well. This involves moving the umbi down about an inch.

Richard Baxter, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 59 reviews

Full tummy tuck vs mini-tummy tuck

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Looking at your photographs, it looks like you have a lot of skin laxity that would make a full tummy tuck probably the better choice.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Mini Does Not Involve More Skin Tightening than Full TT

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I definitely think that you would be happier with the results of a full tummy tuck rather than a mini.  I'm not sure where you got the idea that a miniabdominoplasty would result in more skin tightening than a full tummy tuck.  However, this is not the case and the opposite is true.  You appear to be a good candidate for a full tummy tuck from your photo assuming that you are in good health.

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.