Should I get umbilical float Tummy tuck instead of vertical scar from old belly button? (photos)

I saw a plastic surgeon to discuss tummy tuck. He thought since the skin on my upper belly was good & my bb wouldn't go all the way to low incision, he thought I should do umbilical float vs traditional with a vertical scar where old bb is. I like the thought of no extra belly button scar and shorter horizontal scar but I've seen many posts that say the results aren't good (either bb too low or skin not tight enough). I'm 5'4", 115 lbs, 3 kids & workout almost daily. Pics from 2 diff days

Doctor Answers 16

Umbilical Float or Vertical Scar?

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As discussed in a previous post, the "umbilical float" might be reasonable option for you. No one can give you specific advice without seeing you in person. The umbilical float option does not remove as much skin (hence the shorter scar), but major skin excess does not appear to be your primary problem. The belly button will only be too low if your surgeon moves it too low, but the less it is lowered, the less tightening in your upper abdomen. If you want your tummy skin to be as tight as possible then you should go with the vertical scar. There isn't necessarily a "right' answer as both choices involve some tradeoffs. 

Umbilical float vs. vertical scar

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When I discuss the benefits of a tummy tuck with my patients I try to explain how much improvement they will get from the skin removal and how much improvement they will get from the muscle repair.  It is clear from your photos that muscle repair will be the most helpful for you.  The amount of excess skin you have is hard to tell from your photos and is best demonstrated with the "divers" view (bending at the waist and photo taken from the side).  I have used both techniques with good results.  It is important to avoid excess lowering of the umbilicus and I will usually only lower it 1 to 1.5 cm.  When using this technique the amount of skin removed will be more limited but you don't appear to have much excess to begin with.  I think you could have good results using either technique as long as the muscle repair is done well.

Abdominoplasty techniques

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Hello and thanks for posting your question and photos!

You most certainly would benefit from a full abdominoplasty procedure, which would not only address excess skin, but would tighten your abdominal wall and flatten your abdomen. A small retained umbilical scar at the very bottom of their skin incision may be necessary if all of the skin from the belly butting to the horizontal incision cannot be removed. Frequently , that small vertical scar can be excised in the future if it is bothersome. The ability of the surgeon to flatten the abdomen with fascial plication sutures is much improved with a full abdominoplasty appraoch rather than with limited scar and umbilical float techniques. An umbilical float procedure also detaches your belly button from the blood vessels of your abdominal wall that keep it alive-this will make a full abdominoplasty that preserves your belly button in the future virtually impossible. 

I would recommend seeking a second consultation with a reputable Board Certified Plastic Surgeon in your area to be evaluated for the best and safest approach to achieve your ultimate goals.

My very best wishes to you in accomplishing your goals!

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Should I get umbilical float Tummy tuck instead of vertical scar from old belly button?

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There are a variety of surgical procedures or combinations that can produce good results in patients with abdominal laxity, depending on multiple factors including their anatomy and degree of desired improvement: A mini tummy tuck, an umbilical float modified tummy tuck, a full abdominoplasty. Each of these can be performed with or without liposuction and repair of the diastasis recti. They produce different degrees of improvement. A full tummy tuck with a short vertical scar to close the old belly button incision will produce a better long term cosmetic correction in a patient with your anatomy.

Following the advice of anyone who would presume to tell you what to do based on two dimensional photos without taking a full medical history, examining you, feeling and assessing your tissue tone, discussing your desired outcome and fully informing you about the pros and cons of each option would not be in your best interest. Find a plastic surgeon that you are comfortable with and one that you trust and listen to his or her advice. The surgeon should be certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and ideally a member of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS). You should discuss your concerns with that surgeon in person.

Robert Singer, MD FACS 

 La Jolla, California

Umbilical Float Changes Belly Button Position

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Absolutely not.  Your belly button is in a very specific place on your body, and 'floating' it will disturb that position, usually much more than the doctor initially realized.  Many surgeons are still having a hard time realizing that the little vertical scar is infinitely better than the horizontal scar placed too high, or in your case, a belly button repositioned too low. Go find a surgeon that not only has his aesthetic priorities in place, but also avoids the use of drains with progressive tension sutures. 

Best of luck!

Umbilical float works best with a high BB

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Your pictures show a high belly button, relatively little fat, and good skin tone in the upper abdomen which is good when considering an umbilical float. It is not commonly done but you could be a candidate. An in-person evaluation is the only way to know for sure.

Should I get umbilical float Tummy tuck instead of vertical scar from old belly button

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The concerns about a belly button being too low are valid. The length of the scar is not controlled by the technique, it is controlled by the amount of skin that needs to be removed. The more skin that needs removing, the longer the scar will be. Also, if you want further skin tightening in the future for whatever reason, the belly button will go even lower.

Should I get umbilical float Tummy tuck instead of vertical scar from old belly button?

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Thank you for your question. I personally do not like an umbilical float procedure because of the risk of placing the belly button in an unnaturally low position. This is a bad look, and in an attempt to avoid a low belly button, the surgeon may remove too little skin. I prefer a full tummy tuck procedure and find that the small vertical incision, where the old belly button used to be, heals nicely. I always keep the incision low, and do not try to raise it to remove the belly button hole. I mark patients for surgery while they are wearing a bikini bottom, or underwear, so that I make sure to keep the incision hidden by their clothing.  

Umbilical float vs vertical incision

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I'm not a fan of the umbilical float.  The umbilicus often moves abnormally much from side to side and can appear flat and unnatural.  The umbilicus is a complex structure, not just a circle on the front of the abdomen.  It is best to preserve as much of that as possible.

Brent Moelleken, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 188 reviews

Umbilical float or vertical scar.

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You ask a good question.  Like the other docs I feel that the float operation is usually such a compromise that I advise against it.  Fortunately, you look like you may be a good healer and getting a dramatic stomach flattening and tighter skin is a good trade-off for the extra incision line.  It's important that your surgeon avoid raising the horizontal incision too high to try to remove the vertical scar since that to me is a bad and unaesthetic look.


Jon A Perlman MD FACS 

Certified, American Board of Plastic Surgery 

Extreme Makeover Surgeon ABC TV

Best of Los Angeles Award 2015, 2016 

Beverly Hills, Ca

Jon A. Perlman, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 31 reviews

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