Mini Instead of Full Tummy Tuck to Avoid Scarring?

I am wanting a Tummy Tuck (TT) so bad, although I have researched them tremendously, I have came across Mini Tummy Tucks.

I am 23 years old and have 2 kids. I am very uncomfortable with my stomach in front of my husband because of the saggy skin beneath my belly button. I have had a couple of consultations with plastic surgeons one says a mini would do and the other says a full TT.

I would personally keep the stretch marks instead of a huge scar from a full TT but I don't know what to do.  Help?

Doctor Answers 8

Mini-tummy tuck vs full tummy tuck

The difference between a mini-tummy tuck and "regular" tummy tuck are as follows:

  • Mini-TT only tightens the lower (below the belly button) portion of the abdomen
  • Full-TT tightens the entire abdominal wall, from sternum to pubic bone.
  • Mini-TT does not involve any scarring around the belly button, but it does move down closer to the pubic area.
  • Full-TT does involve cutting around your belly button to create the "new" belly button, which remains in the same basic anatomic area.
  • Mini-TT scar length is slighter shorter than full-TT scar, but only by an inch or two on either side.

Conclusion: If your plastic surgeon feels a full-TT can be done, then that is the right procedure to do. It may require a slightly longer recovery, but the results will be better. There aren't many patients who are truly good candidates for mini-TT.

Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 377 reviews

Mini versus Full tummy tuck

Hi Nicole,

Your concern about the length of a full tummy tuck scar is shared by many women. If you think about, no patient ever comes into the office asking for a big scar! What patients do say, though, is that they're bothered about sagging of their skin, stretch marks, and bulges of their abdominal wall, none of which they can fix with diet or exercise. Some of their problems are the result of irreversible skin injury which occurs with fluctuations in weight, but some of their problems are the result of looseness of the abdominal wall muscles.

The differences between a mini tummy tuck and a full tummy tuck go beyond the differences in incision length. A mini tummy tuck removes saggy skin between the belly button and pubic region; that's pretty much it. Most bulging of the abdominal wall remains, as the problems with the abdominal wall muscles haven't been addressed. A full tummy tuck can remove more skin and more stretch marks, tighten loose muscles, thereby eliminating bulges of the upper and lower abdominal wall, and re-shape the belly button. While it's true that the incision is longer, in some cases, it doesn't have to extend from hip bone to hip bone. The length of the incision is primarily determined by extent of loose skin.

One more important thing is that most plastic surgeons are sensitive to placing the incision in an area that can be camouflaged easily. I ask my patients to wear a bathing suit bottom so that I can design the incision to fall within this area. This way, even if the incision needs to be longer than a mini tummy tuck incision, it can still be hidden relatively easily.

If you're happy with the plastic surgeons you've seen in consultation, it may benefit you to discuss with them their rationale behind mini-tummy tuck and full tummy tuck. If you're still uncertain after that, consultation with additional board certified plastic surgeons may be in your best interest.

Hope this helps - best of luck.

Sam Jejurikar, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 92 reviews

Consider floating abdominoplasty

Floating abdominoplasty uses a small incision in the lower abdomen to allow for the tummy to be tightened and shaped. No incision around the belly button is needed. Through the incision, excess skin is removed and muscles can be tightened. The belly button is temporarily detached during the surgery to allow for this. You experience muscle tightening from sternum to pubic area. After the belly button is reattached (and moved down if necessary) the incisions are sutured. Liposuction can be performed if necessary to eliminate excess fat.

Please see an experienced board certified plastic surgeon for a physical examination to determine which treatment would be most suitable. A floating abdominoplasty may help you. Good luck.

Jerome Edelstein, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 176 reviews

Mini Tummy Tuck - A procedure for very few patients

The problem with mini tummy tuck is that it sounds just great because of the shorter scar and the quicker recovery but it is often inadequate, especially after a few years.  I used to be quite enthusiastic about mini tummy tucks until I had been in practice maybe ten years and some of my mini tummy tuck patients came back with recurrent laxity, especially in their upper abdomens. 

I still occasionally recommend a mini but usually only for ladies with very nice abdominal tone who have a little lower laxity and/or a "socked in" C-section scar. 

Lisa Lynn Sowder, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 72 reviews

Scar can be significant with either full or mini Tummy Tuck

Thank you for your question. Although the many tummy Tuck scar is smaller it is still a scar on your abdomen.

The important question for you is what will give you the best Tummy Tuck result. If you have split muscles, and loose skin above your belly button, a mini tummy Tuck is unlikely to give you the best result. Follow the advice of the board certified plastic surgeon that you've trust is giving you the best advice.

Full vs Mini Tummy Tuck and incisions

You will have a scar in the bikini area from either the mini or full tummy tuck.  The length depends on the degree of skin laxity you have.  In addition, with a full tummy tuck, you will have an incision around the belly button, and you may have a small vertical line if the old belly button scar cannot be stretched enough to be excised with abdominal tissue that is going away.   The main advantage of the full tummy tuck is that you can tighten abdominal muscles as well.

It sounds like the main concern is the 'huge scar' from the full tummy tuck.  If you are referring to the bikini line scar, then this length may be similar to the mini depending on what degree of skin tightening you are willing to accept for either procedure.  Good luck with your decision.



Young R. Cho, MD, PhD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 35 reviews

Mini or full tummy tuck?

Thank you for the question. Pictures or direct examination would also be very helpful.

Having said that, most patients in your situation would trade an improved  contour and end result  for a longer scar- a full tummy tuck procedure usually creates the best result.

A few general words of caution may be helpful in regards to mini- tummy tuck surgery. In my opinion, the mini tummy talk is an  operation that  produces very limited results and is very rarely indicated. It involves a shorter incision but does not address the majority of the abdominal wall issues present for most patients who present consultation. For example, the area of skin excised is quite small. The abdominal wall musculature is addressed below the umbilicus leaving the upper number wall potentially lax. The appearance of the umbilicus is not necessarily addressed sufficiently.

For most patients who have had pregnancies and/or weight loss a full abdominoplasty is necessary to achieve the desired results. Of course, there are downsides (including a longer scar and probably a longer recovery time) but for most patients the benefits outweigh the downsides. It is not unusual to see patients who've had mini tummy tuck  surgery present for  revisionary surgery.
It is important  for patients seeking abdominal contouring surgery to work with a well experienced board-certified plastic surgeon to obtain advice (based on good ethics and judgment) to  improve  their chances of a successful outcome and minimize the need for further surgery.

I hope this helps.

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,485 reviews

"Mini TT" gives a mini result!

Mini tummy tucks work best for thin women with just a little extra skin on the lower abdomen. If that is you, then got for it! If it's not, the only additional scar from the full tummy tuck is around the belly button and the bikini scar may be a bit longer. Another thing to consider is that you can start with the mini and if you don't like it (after a few months of healing), you can always go back and do the full. But once that scar is on you, it is there for life! Everyone is afraid of the scar, but they are a necessity to get the skin to look the way we want. Good luck!

Robert S. Houser, DO
Columbus Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 15 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.