Full Tummy Tuck vs Mini Tummy Tuck

By David Sterling Slatton MD

First, these procedures are described according to the basics of their respective techniques:

Full tummy tuck

What is done in a “full” tummy tuck?   Elevating a tissue flap of skin and fat off the lower abdominal musculature, placing sutures in the midline of the abdomen from the center of the ribcage to the lowest position of the abdomen, redraping the abdominal skin, and removing an elliptical wedge of skin a fat and sewing the skin back together and pulling the belly button (umbilical stalk) through the upper abdominal skin, are the elements of the “full” tummy tuck procedure.

Mini tummy tuck

What is done in a “mini” tummy tuck?  Elevating a flap of tissue off the lower abdominal muscles to the level of the belly button, placing sutures from the belly button to the lowest position in the abdomen,  and removing a wedge of skin and fat from the lower abdomen and stitching the skin back together are the elements of the “mini” tummy tuck procedure.  The belly button is NOT pulled through a surgically created hole in the upper abdominal skin in mini tummy tuck.  Rather, the belly button is left on the umbilical stalk and pulled down with the remaining lower abdominal skin or it is “floated” by dividing the belly button at its base and reattaching it with stitches to the midline of the abdominal muscles.

Individual considerations;   which procedure is appropriate, and for whom is one operation preferred versus the other:

Many patients are interested in mini tummy tuck surgery because they feel the length of the scar will be shorter.  They also want less discomfort and less down time. Certainly, this can be an advantage of a mini tummy tuck.  However, anatomic considerations of the entire abdomen are the determinants of the choosing the correct procedure.  When loose abdominal skin is present above and below the belly button (umbilicus),  a “full” tummy tuck is probably the better option for improving abdominal appearance.  Extensive stretch marks are also indicators for the need for a full tummy tuck.  Diastasis Rectus (widening between the paired rectus abdominis muscles), with excessive upper abdominal bulging is another indication for full tummy tuck procedures.  Extensive abdominal skin laxity that occurs with massive weight loss or significant weight fluctuation is also an indication that a full tummy tuck is necessary.

So when is a mini tummy tuck the procedure of choice?  Patients with a bulge in the lower abdomen below the umbilicus (the medical term for this area is “hypogastrium”) and mild to moderate skin laxity may be candidates for a mini tummy tuck.  This bulging occurs because the lower abdominal muscles are covered by connective tissue (fascia) on the anterior surface only, while the upper abdominal muscles have fascia covering the anterior and posterior surfaces of the muscle in the area of the abdomen above the belly button (the epigastrium).  A mini tummy tuck which includes removal of a segment of lower abdominal skin and fat along with placation of the hypogastric muscle fascia will correct this problem.

The natural position of the umbilicus can also be a determining factor in choosing the tummy tuck procedure which bests suits one’s desires for cosmetic improvement.  A high position of the umbilicus along with the above mentioned factors favoring a mini tummy tuck may make this procedure more appropriate.  In rare instances, dividing the stalk of the umbilicus ( a technique known as “floating” the ) belly button may be indicated.

The use of liposuction in conjunction with both a mini tummy tuck and full tummy tuck improves the overall appearance and thus can be used to maximize the final appearance in both operations.

For More Information on Tummy Tuck surgery or Mini Tummy Tuck surgery in Indianapolis contact Dr. David Sterling Slatton at 317 733 8200