Considering a Mini Tummy Tuck, How do I Decide Between Mini and Full?

My main concern is the stretch marks below my belly button and loose skin. The skin is not sagging when I'm standing straight only when I'm sitting or bending over. I am 5'4 and 108 lbs and in fairly good shape. My oby/gyn said that my muscles are not not detached at all. And I have a piercing scar on my belly button that I also would like to be gone. Should I have a full tummy tuck or mini???

Doctor Answers 16

How to decide between a mini and full tummy tuck?

Deciding between a mini or full tummy tuck depends on how your tummy looks now. The difference between a mini or full tummy tuck is determined by whether or not your tummy problem involves the entire tummy or just that part of the tummy below the belly button. If your upper tummy is fine and your only problem is that part of your tummy below the belly button, then a mini tummy tuck will do. The upper abdomen and belly button area is not affected in a mini tummy tuck. On the other hand, if your problem involves the belly button area  or the upper abdomen, then you will need a full tummy tuck. In a full tummy tuck the scar is just a little longer than in a mini but the entire abdomen is improved. Your plastic surgeon will help you decide which tummy tuck is best for you.

Toronto Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 111 reviews

Deciding between mini and full tummy tuck.

Thank you for your question.  Of course, an exam would be needed to make a final determination.  In a traditional tummy tuck, the rectus muscles can be sewn back together, (plicated).  Mini tummy tucks are usually reserved for those with extra skin between the umbilicus and pubis.  The loose skin is trimmed off.  These patients are usually quite thin.  Best to see a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon.  Together you will come up with a plan.


Jeffrey J. Roth, MD, FACS
Las Vegas Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Tummy Tuck Options

Thank you for you question.    It is difficult to give accurate recommendation without an in office exam.  When I evaluate the abdomen, I assess:
1.  The amount of loose skin

2.  The volume of fatty tissue
3.  The degree of muscle laxity.

I evaluate this in each of 3 areas:
1.  Upper Abdomen

2.  Area around the Belly Button
3.  Lower Abdomen

MINI TUMMY TUCK: If a patient has loose skin, fatty tissue, and muscle laxity limited to the Lower Abdomen, then I recommend the mini tummy tuck.  In order to qualify for this, the patient must have good skin and muscle tone in their upper abdomen and area around the belly button.   I will frequently perform liposuction of these areas with my Mini Tummy Tuck to enhance the overall contour.

FULL TUMMY TUCK:  this is for patients who have loose skin and muscle laxity of the upper abdomen, belly button area, and lower abdomen.   This procedure tightens all 3 areas with a bikini line incision.   I often encorporate liposuction with my full tummy tuck as I feel it offers a superb end result.
EXTENDED TUMMY TUCK:  This works well for patients who have loose skin that extends over the hip bone into the flank area.   I will perform extensive liposuction and skin excision to the hip and flank area combined with full tummy tuck.

BODY LIFT/BELT LIPECTOMY:  this is essentially a 360 degree tummy tuck which involves removal of loose skin and fatty tissue of the lower back and buttocks, in addition to the extended tummy tuck.
I wish you a safe recovery and amazing result!!

Dr. Gill

Paul S. Gill, MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 86 reviews

When only the area below the belly button is the problem, a mini tummy tuck may be a good option

A mini tummy tuck does not reshape the entire abdomen like a fully tummy tuck would.  It simply tightens the skin between the belly button and pubic area.  Pictures of your abdomen would be very helpful, but if you area 5'4 and 108lb and you haven't lost a large amount of weight which would leave you with excess loose abdominal skin, you are most likely a good candidate for a mini not a fully tummy tuck.

Martin Jugenburg, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 457 reviews

Mini tummy tuck or full tummy tuck? Everyone is unique

A mini tummy tuck is great for treating excess skin below the belly button with minimal to no looseness of the abdominal muscles.  A full tummy tuck is great for tightening the entire abdomen from top to bottom and excellent for removing excess skin of the abdomen while keeping the incision along the bikini line.  The best thing to do is to visit your local plastic surgeon to see which type of tummy tuck will meet your aesthetic goals.

Jeffrey E. Schreiber, MD, FACS
Baltimore Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 202 reviews

Mini or Full tummy tuck

Thank you for your question.  It's a popular one. The only way to know for sure is to see a plastic surgeon for an evaluation.  A mini-tummy tuck is limited to the lower abdomen and has a slightly shorter scar.  Unfortunately, most women get the most benefit from a full tummy tuck to adequately remove all of the excess skin. 

See two or more board-certified plastic surgeons in your area for an evaluation.  Good Luck.

J. Jason Wendel, MD, FACS
Nashville Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 182 reviews

Considering a Mini Tummy Tuck, How do I Decide Between Mini and Full?

Loose skin of the lower tummy, everything OK above the belly button= lower (mini) tummy tuck= no correction above the belly button.

Loose skin above the belly button as well as below= full tummy tuck= correction above and below the belly button.

No muscle separation= no need to tighten fascia/muscles.

Piercing scar on the belly button can only be traded for a scar, and cannot be removed entirely leaving no visible scar unless you have SO MUCH loose skin above the belly button that a full tummy tuck would advance the piercing scar down below the tummy tuck scar at what ideally would be the level of the pubic hair and thus remove it (and all the skin below it). You do not sound like you have any significant amount of loose skin above your belly button, so do not count on being rid of your piercing scar.

Robert M. Grenley, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 87 reviews

Mini or Full Tummy Tuck? Which to do, and Who Decides?

The best way to "decide" if you should have a Full Tummy Tuck or Mini Tummy Tuck, is to be evaluated by a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon who is very experienced with this procedure.  In most cases, it's not a decision made by patients.  An experienced Plastic Surgeon can make this determination, that's why we train for so many years. 

You can not choose to do a full tummy tuck if you don't have enough skin.  It's just not possible to have this done unless you have significant excess skin between your belly button and breasts. 

If you have severe laxity above the belly button as well as below, I wouldn't do a mini as it would look deformed to have a very flat abdomen below your belly button and all wrinkly above. 

If your skin is only loose below your belly button, you can only do a mini

The only situation where I leave the decision up to my patient is when you only have a little bit of excess skin above the belly button which you would like tightened, but not enough to allow me to remove all of the skin below the belly button.  A full Tummy Tuck in this situation will result in an additional scar about an inch long located somewhere between your belly button and the tummy tuck scar at your pubic hair line.    Some people would prefer the additional scar because it will make their skin as tight as possible, others would prefer a little bit residual excess skin above their belly button over an additional scar on their lower abdomen.   Which is better is a toss up. 
I usually recommend the Full Tummy Tuck in this situation if you want the "best" result, but it does mean additional surgery, expense, recovery time and pain.  But, if it were my choice, that's the way I would go.  The scar is usually pretty minimal.

Daniel P. Markmann, MD
Baltimore Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 114 reviews

Do I need a mini or full tummy tuck?

This is a very common question and still somewhat of a source of confusion for patients.

Mini abdominoplasty involves the removal of a smaller wedge of skin between the bellybutton in the pubic area.  If a patient is specifically bulging just below the bellybutton then muscle tightening from the belly button and below may help the lower abdominal wall match the upper abdominal wall. If the curve of the abdominal wall is uniform then tightening of the muscles below the bellybutton only will make the lower abdomen flat and accentuate bulging of the abdomen above the bellybutton.  I call this a 1/2 flat belly and it should be avoided. Because mini tummy tuck is from the belly button and below generally,  but not always, the scar is shorter because less skin can be removed.

A complete or full tummy tuck allows muscle tightening from top to bottom and in most cases involves removing all the excess skin from the top of the bellybutton and below.  Sometimes, skin above the bellybutton can be removed as well.  By tightening the whole abdominal wall the abdomen takes on a flatter and more uniform appearance.

Anybody can have a mini tummy tuck but not everyone can have a full tummy tuck.

That said, your board certified plastic surgeon will need to evaluate you to give you his or her best opinion.  By pinching on the lower abdomen a surgeon can get a sense of whether or not the patient will do better with one option or the other.

For the most part I find that mini tummy tuck is a bit of a halfway measure.  Most patients will get their tightest and flattest abdomen and remove more stretch marks with full tummy tuck.  I see patients who are much better candidates for full tummy tuck far more commonly.   I find  most patients are concerned about the length of the scar, but in either situation this scar can usually be hidden under a reasonable bathing suit or bikini line.

Your obstetricians input  it is certainly helpful, but a plastic surgeon experienced in these surgeries may give you a better recommendation and understanding.

I hope my response has been helpful to you.



Adam Tattelbaum, MD
Washington DC Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 104 reviews

Mini Tumy Tuck or Full Tummy Tuck

If you are considering tummy tuck and confused about which type of tummy tuck is right for you, I would recommend consulting with a board certified Plastic Surgeon. During your consultation, your Plastic Surgeon will evaluate your body and your concern to recommend which tummy tuck offers the best treatment for you stretch marks and loose skin. Many patients who have just excess fat may only require liposuction instead of tummy tuck. These days, anyone can perform tummy tuck using the word "cosmetic surgeon" Do your homework well and make sure you are seeing a "real" Plastic Surgeon. There is a big difference.

Stanley Okoro, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 160 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.