Expert Doctor

Full vs. Mini Tummy Tuck

Malcolm Lesavoy, MD

Beverly Hills, CA

Full vs. Mini Tummy Tuck

Full and mini tummy tucks are also known as abdominoplasty, full abdominoplasty and mini abdominoplasty. These cosmetic procedures are used to remove excess fat and skin in the abdominal region to provide a slimmer and better contour. The extent of the procedure and amount of excess tissue being removed determines whether the procedure is classified as a full or mini tummy tuck. As their names suggest, a full tummy tuck removes tissue from the upper and lower abdominal area while tightening the abdominal muscles. A mini tummy tuck only treats the lower abdomen below the belly button.

Ideal Candidates for Cosmetic Full or Mini Tummy Tuck

A GOOD CANDIDATE for a full or mini tummy tuck includes:

  • A patient with excess fat and loose skin on the abdomen
  • Women who have given birth and have weak or stretched abdominal muscles
  • Male or female patients who have lost a significant amount of weight naturally, or due to bariatric surgery, which resulted in excess hanging skin
  • Patients with excess skin, stretch marks and/or fat that is located only on the lower abdomen are ideal for a mini tummy tuck
  • Patients with excess tissue above and below the belly button are better candidates for a full abdominoplasty

The following patients are NOT GOOD CANDIDATES for abdominoplasty:

  • Women who plan to have further pregnancies
  • Women with stretchmarks but not enough loose skin to remove them
  • A patient who is not at a stable weight or plans to lose more weight
  • Patients who are obese and have a significant amount of intra-abdominal fat surrounding the organs

Advantages of Full Tummy Tuck

An abdominoplasty is usually performed under general anesthesia. However, local anesthesia with intravenous sedation may also be an option. For a full tummy tuck, the surgeon makes an incision from hip to hip. The incision will be hidden within the bikini line following along the groin and the pubic region. The length of the incision is determined by the amount of excess skin to be removed. The surgeon will lift the abdominal skin, remove excess fat and tighten the rectus or abdominal muscles in the midline with sutures. An incision around the navel is usually necessary for the removal of excess skin located on the upper abdomen. The surgeon will re-drape the skin over the new contours and pull it down. Then, he or she will trim off the excess skin including the old belly button hole. The remaining skin will be pulled taut and sutured together. A new opening for the belly button will be created and the belly button will be pushed through the surface and sutured into position.

Advantages of Mini Tummy Tuck

A mini tummy tuck is performed in the same manner as a full tummy tuck. However, the incision is shorter and located just above the pubic region. This modified version of the full abdominoplasty only removes excess skin and fat located in the lower abdomen. The naval is unchanged but the surgeon can still tighten the abdominal muscles.

What are the Costs of Full and Mini Tummy Tuck?

A full tummy tuck costs anywhere from $4000-$12,000 while a mini tummy tuck ranges from $5000-$10,000. The type of tummy tuck performed, surgeon fees, facility fees and the geographic location of the procedure can all be determining factors in the final cost.

Recovery and Downtime

RECOVERY after a full tummy tuck varies from person to person. Those who are in better shape and exercise regularly will have abdominal muscles that heal quicker than those who don’t. The patient can expect some pain or discomfort as well as bruising, drainage and swelling. A compression garment will be worn for about six weeks to minimize swelling and to help support the abdomen as it heals. Small tubes may temporarily protrude from the incision site in order to allow excess fluid or blood to drain. Patients are encouraged to walk short distances during the first week of DOWNTIME while avoiding any activities that strain the incisions. Patients should avoid bending at the waist or reaching above the shoulders. Most patients can return to work after 2 weeks. Vigorous activities that use the abdominal muscles should be avoided for at least 3 months.

The RECOVERY period for a mini tummy tuck is around 2 weeks. Patients can return to work within 2 or 3 days but they are not allowed to do strenuous activities so they don’t open the surgical wound. Patients may resume vigorous activities and exercise after approximately one month of DOWNTIME.


Tummy tuck results are not immediately visible due to swelling and bruising. However, swelling from a mini tummy tuck will begin to resolve as early as 2 weeks post-op and the initial results can be seen at this time. The results for a full tummy tuck can take longer to visualize since the swelling can persist for up to 8 weeks. Nevertheless, improvements will continue as the body heals from the inside and all the swelling subsides. Residual swelling can last approximately 4 to 6 months. Therefore, the final results will not be apparent until after 6 months post-op.

Scarring is to be expected after surgery but mini tummy tuck scarring is 20-30% shorter in dimension. Furthermore, a mini abdominoplasty will not have a belly button scar. It can take a full year or more for a scar to fade and become less noticeable. The results from a full or mini tummy tuck are permanent. However, the patient should sustain a stable weight by eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly since weight fluctuations can alter the results.

Limitations of a Full or Mini Tummy Tuck

The limitations of a full or mini tummy tuck include:

  • Patients will be limited with using the rectus muscle to change positions or move from a sitting to a standing position
  • Patients will not be able to stand erect for the first week or two
  • Patients will be limited to only walking during the first few days after surgery
  • How much tissue can be removed during a mini tummy tuck
  • It is not a weight loss procedure

Risks of a Full or Mini Tummy Tuck

The risks involved with a full or mini tummy tuck include:

  • Adverse reaction to anesthesia
  • Bleeding or blood clots
  • Deep vein thrombosis that can cause cardiac and pulmonary complications
  • Prolonged swelling
  • Numbness or changes in sensation
  • Infection
  • Poor wound healing
  • Scarring
  • Wound separation that causes unsightly scarring
  • Skin discoloration
  • Recurrence of loose skin
  • The need for follow-up or touch-up treatments

Full and Mini Tummy Tucks Provide Better Cosmetic Contours

A full or mini tummy tuck provides better contour to the mid-section by removing excess skin, fat and tightening the abdominal muscles. Patients who only have extra tissue below the belly button may benefit from a mini tummy tuck. However, those with a larger amount of fat and loose skin on the entire abdomen may be more suitable for a full tummy tuck. Abdominoplasty can repair weak or stretched abdominal muscles, and remove unsightly stretch marks, while creating a thinner silhouette. Patients who are deciding between a full or mini tummy tuck should consult with a board-certified surgeon who specializes in both techniques to determine which procedure is best for them.


Written by Cosmetic Town Editorial Team - SP

Based on an exclusive interview with Malcolm Lesavoy, MD in Beverly Hills, CA