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What’s the difference between a full and a mini tummy tuck?

Posted on March 28, 2019

By: Dr. Asaf Yalif

Body changes after pregnancy or significant weight loss can leave the midsection altered in many different ways. Sometimes there is excess skin, often with stretch marks. Other times there may be looseness in the ab muscles that just won’t get better with exercise.

As plastic surgeons, we have varying degrees of “aggressiveness” when addressing your abdomen based on the muscular component and the skin component and the fat/soft tissue component in between. This allows us to tailor the surgical plan for you and alter it to your particular issue. At Y Plastic Surgery, a customizable tummy tuck broadens the types of patients we can effectively treat in Atlanta and Alpharetta GA.

Let’s review these procedures, their benefits, and limitations, to help you figure out the best way to tone and tighten your abdominal area.

What is involved in a mini tummy tuck?

Used for: Removing excess skin/fat below the belly button. Redrapes skin below the belly button.

Best candidate: Adults who have loose skin below the belly button but whose muscles are not separated.

A mini tummy tuck usually only addresses the excess skin and stretch marks below the belly button. It does not move the belly button. It also usually does not address any muscular separation that exists above the belly button. The incision is kept low near the pubic bone and is no wider than hip to hip. It is done much quicker than a full tummy tuck because we are not correcting muscles or moving the belly button. We can couple it with liposuction above the belly button or on the flanks if there is excess present. Recovery is between 3-4weeks. Recovery is much quicker from this than a full tummy tuck because the muscles are not repositioned.

What is a full tummy tuck?

Used for: Removing excess skin/fat at or below the belly button. Correcting any muscle separation (diastasis) and reinforcing your core. Redrapes skin from above the belly button.

Best candidate: Adults with loose skin at or below the belly button. It can also help with muscle laxity that isn’t responding to exercise.

A full tummy tuck is a bit more involved than the mini. The incision remains low and from hip bone to hip bone, but the belly button is relocated, and the ab muscles fully reinforced. Any diastasis/muscle separation is corrected during the procedure as well. Liposuction can be performed during the procedure to help accentuate the flanks/define the results better.

The skin is fully redraped from the ribs down to the pubic bone, and drains are usually left for 10-14 days. The belly button is brought out at its new location based on its blood supply (it is still your belly button, just in a new location!). Because of the muscle work, the recovery from a full tummy tuck is more prolonged, typically 2 months until you feel “back to normal.” This has to do with the muscle work performed. By cinching things tight it, in effect, is like wearing a corset 24/7. The body will adjust to it, and you will be very happy with the result, but the recovery is a bit longer than the mini.

You can see some of our real patients’ results in our tummy tuck before-and-after photos.

Extended Tummy tuck/Lower body lift

If there is significant laxity to the skin on the sides, this can be addressed as well by elongating the incision past the hip bones and using natural creases to hide the incisions. Once past the hip bone, we call it an “extended” tummy tuck. This incision can be carried around toward the back—270 degrees or a full 360 degrees, in which case it is then called a lower body lift. The longer the incision, the more tissue can be removed or repositioned. This means that the surgery is more extensive and takes a bit longer than the full tummy tuck but allows us to really redefine your midsection, and possibly your gluteal region if that is of concern. For each additional area that is addressed, the procedure and the recovery take a bit longer.


Liposuction can be used as an adjunct with any of the above procedures to address the flanks or other areas of concern at the same time as the primary abdominal procedure. Dr. Yalif usually performs some liposuction locally during any tummy tuck to help define the area and make sure the contours heal well.

Which Is Right for You?

That’s the million-dollar question, right? It depends on a combination of factors, including your ultimate desired cosmetic result, your budget, and your ability to take time to recover properly. Procedures can be staged if needed/desired. We talk more about this issue and other commonly asked tummy tuck questions in a related blog post.

I am happy to answer all your questions; just request a personal consultation using our online form. You can also call one of our offices at (404) 476-8774 (Alpharetta & Atlanta) to schedule an appointment.

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