What Risks Come with a Skinny Person Having a Full Tummy Tuck to Correct Umbilical Hernia?

I am 5 foot 7 and weigh 120lb and have a small diastasis with a tiny umbilical hernia. My tummy is dead flat but the skin above the belly button is very wrinkly. My PS has suggested a full tummy tuck with MR however I have read on this site that thin people seem to have problems with breathing and more swelling after this procedure. Is this true? I am concerned that I am undergoing a major operation for not much of a gain and maybe a lot of complications.

Doctor Answers 11

More Problems for Thin Patients with a Tummy Tuck?

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Dear Scared Mum,  I am not sure where you read that thinner patients have more problems such as increased swelling or more shortness of breath when compared to heavy, fuller patients but I would suggest the opposite is more likely.  Usually it is the heavier and thicker patient who has more swelling after a tummy tuck and with the increased tightening to their abdomen, they can also have increased shortness of breath.  From your description, it sounds like you have a number of issues you would like to address.  The umbilical hernia can be repaired at the same time as your tummy tuck and usually through the same incision.  The recovery is about the same as a tummy tuck.  The loose skin above your navel can be treated by raising up the abdominal wall and advancing the loose skin downwards and getting rid of the extra skin.  Sometimes the muscle separation from pregnancy has to be repaired and other times it does not.  Only your plastic surgeon who has performed your exam can answer that question and if you have concerns, please feel free to discuss them with your surgeon who should be very willing to help you understand their recommendations.  In my experience, thin patients whose main concern is the excess loose skin trapped above the belly bottom get a great result with a full tummy tuck.  Good Luck with your surgery!

Tummy Tuck - What Risks Come with a Skinny Person Having a Full Tummy Tuck to Correct Umbilical Hernia?

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I'm not sure that there are any increased risks in a skinny person undergoing this procedure.  If anything, unusually heavy patients may be at increased risk (of a number of potential complications).

But there are other issues.  First, you can, of course, have the umbilical hernia repaired without any other surgery, including a tummy tuck.  Second, you say you have an excess of skin relatively high (above and around the BB) but you don't say whether you also have an excess of skin lower down.  If you do not, or if you have any additional scars (such as from a C-Section) then the planning of your surgery may be impacted with a tummy tuck.  Normally, the intent is to be able to get the area just above the BB down to the spot where the transverse abdominal incision will be.  If your lower skin is tight, or you have scars, etc this may be difficult.

A consult with a plastic surgeon will help delineate these issues right away, so I would encourage you to do that.  But as far as increased risks?  Not sure about that at all.

I hope that this helps, and good luck,

Dr. E

Tummy Tuck for Skinny Patient?

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Thank you for the question.

It is difficult to give you accurate advice without pictures or physical examination. Generally speaking if a patient has  the anatomy you describe  the tummy tuck procedure is the best way to go. Planning of the incision line is extremely important to ensure tension free closure. You may also need a short vertical incision at the midline of the transverse tummy tuck  incision (previous umbilical opening).

I hope this helps.


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Risks of a skinny woman having a tummy tuck.....

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I have never had a patient complain of difficulty breathing after tummytuck or more swelling than anyone else.  I perform Tummy tucks on thin women all of the time.  Usually this can be performed with a low scar and without a vertical scar especially if you have wrinkling above your umbilicus. As far as the gain, you will gain the repair of your hernia, as well as the tightening of your skin and possible of your muscles if you need it.  Fortunately, complications are rare, especially in a thin and hopefully healthy woman like you.  

What Risks Come w/ a Skinny Person Having a Full Tummy Tuck to Correct Umbilical Hernia?

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A full tummy tuck can fix your hernia and pull the skin tight to get rid of the wrinkling and I have some patients that just don’t need MR and you may be one of them. I don’t think there is any more risk for you in having MR, but it does add to your recovery. And in thin women without much skin overhang, you may end up with a slightly flat belly button after and a small vertical incision just above your pubic bone, where your old belly button was.

Thinner Patients do not have increased risks with Tummy Tuck

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Hi there-

I have never seen, read, or heard anything that would make me think thinner patients experience more of anything untoward after a tummy tuck than less thin patients do.

If you and your surgeon believe that is the procedure that will give you the best outcome, this should not be a reason you proceed in any other fashion.

What Risks Come with a Skinny Person Having a Full Tummy Tuck to Correct Umbilical Hernia?

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A Full Tummy Tuck is usually done to correct the excess skin above the belly button, the stretched and split tummy muscle resulting in a protuberance ("The Pooch") and the sagging of the Mons pubis seen after pregnancy. If you were never pregnant , you probably would not need a muscle repair. However, if you were pregnant and especially if you were pregnant several times and/or were pregnant with a large baby there is little chance that your muscles were not stretched and split in the midline. A muscle repair is the only way such women can then get the flat tummy and narrower waist they deserve.

In my experience with hundreds of Tummy Tucks I have NOT seen a higher rate of swelling and complications in thinner women.

Good Luck.

Peter A Aldea, MD

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon

Thin patients do well and have better results after Tummy Tuck

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Thank you for your question. As others have stated Tummy Tuck results are usually better in thin patient's and often recovery is more simple than in patients who are overweight.

My guess from your question is that the concern is whether a full abdominoplasty can be done when you do not have a lot of loose excess skin in your lower abdomen. This is an important question because if you do not have loose skin on the lower abdomen below your belly button a full abdominoplasty may require a high incision which of course would be more visible. Another possible option is an upper Tummy Tuck with scars beneath the breast but this procedure can produce unacceptable scarring and some patients.

Please consult a plastic surgeon who is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, is experienced in tummy Tuck surgery, and has an excellent reputation in your community.

Do I need a muscle repair?

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There are three elements to be considered in any tummy tuck:  1. the excess skin - reshaping it to look good. 2. the distribution of fat - often adjunctive liposuction is necessary to create an excellent contour and 3. the post pregnancy space between the rectus muscles, called a divarication.

Some tummies need all 3 to be addressed, some 2 and some 1.  If your tummy is genuinely flat with no bulge above or below the belly button, you are unlikely to need a muscle repair.  It is more likely that a skin only tummy tuck is all that's necessary.

In my practice around two thirds of tt patients require a muscle repair and a third don't.

It would be necessary to examine you at a consultation to properly advise you, as some patients have a divarication that they're not aware of.

Good luck!

Risk of TT for ideal body

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The risk and complications might result from TT for thin patients usually are much less than those overwight or obese patients in general. I am not really aware of the risk you mentioned that are related to breathing issues in thin patiens, I dont think its right. The decision to do the TT comes after a thorugh assessment, however with your describtion, the TT seems to be too advanced choice for your expecation, trading the wrinkles and mild diastasis for the low abdominal scar and other known possible complications. Again its all depends on the examination and your expectations. At the end I would like to draw you attention to the new modalities available in the market for skin tightening like Thermage, Lazers resurfacing or skin tightening, and bodyshaping radiofrequency technology, and be aware they give limited results not like surgical option. good luck

Fatema S. Alsubhi, MD
UAE 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.