What is the difference between a full tummy tuck and a mini tummy tuck? In a general sense, a full tummy tuck treats the entire abdomen, while a mini tummy tuck focuses on the lower abdomen below the belly button. A full tummy tuck is a surgery for a patient with significant abdominal skin laxity. In this procedure, an incision is made just above the pubic area and all of or almost all of the skin is removed between the patient's belly button and the suprapubic incision. The entire abdominal wall is tightened from sternum to pubis and a new belly button is created at the side of the umbilical stalk. A mini tummy tuck, on the other hand, is a surgery for a patient with less abdominal skin laxity and abdominal wall weakness just below the belly button. The incision is made in roughly the same location above the pubic area, but a smaller ellipse of abdominal skin is removed and a new belly button is not created. This affords the surgeon access only to the lower abdomen for placement of sutures that tighten the abdominal wall.

Some important things to know about the two procedures are the following. Number one, the suprapubic scars are about the same length for these two procedures. In most cases, the scar needs to run from the iliac crest or hip bone to the other iliac crest. So if you have a mini tummy tuck, you aren't necessarily going to have a shorter suprapubic scar. Another thing to know is that a mini tummy tuck may pull your belly button into a lower position. That is okay if you have a high belly button position to start with. But if you already have a low belly button position preoperatively, then the appearance following a mini tummy tuck maybe odd and even quite unfavorable. The last thing to know is this. In my opinion, there are very few patients who are actually very good candidates for what is truly a mini tummy tuck. Most patients that have had one or two or more pregnancies have weakness not of just the lower abdomen, but weakness of the entire abdominal wall, although it may not be completely apparent to them preoperatively.

If you tighten only the lower abdomen, you may end up with some bulging in the upper abdomen because the upper abdomen has not been tightened. For most patients who need sort of a mini tummy tuck skin excision, I prefer to float the umbilicus with a skin flap. The umbilicus actually floats away from the abdominal wall with the abdominal skin flap and this affords the surgeon access to the entire abdominal wall, so the muscle wall of the abdomen can be tightened from sternum to pubis. I refer to this surgery as an extended mini abdominoplasty. This leaves the patient with their original belly button and it leaves them with the same scar as a mini tummy tuck that allows me to tighten the entire abdominal wall so that postoperatively, in profile, they have that beautifully flat and aesthetically ideal abdominal wall that they had in mind. Make sure that your surgeon can discuss all of these concepts with you and help determine which is the best procedure for you in particular.

Happy With Your Belly Button? You May Only Need a Mini Tummy Tuck

Dr. Michael Law explains the differences between a full tummy tuck and a mini tummy tuck. A full tummy tuck treats the entire abdomen, while the mini tummy tuck treats the lower abdomen, below the abdomen.