Lewis Plastic Surgery: Gordon Lewis, MD
2331-A Robious Station Circle
Midlothian, VA 23113
(804) 267-6009
Monday–Friday: 8:30 a.m.–4:45 p.m.

Mini Tummy Tuck vs. Full Tummy Tuck: What’s the Difference?

Close-up of a woman's flat stomach (model) wearing a red swimsuit against a white background.

A “pooch” can be a confidence buster for men and women who have dieted, exercised, and worked hard to lose weight. A tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, is often the right solution for targeting and eliminating stubborn, unwanted pockets of abdominal fat and excess skin. But which type of tummy tuck would work best for you? How do you weigh the benefits and limitations of a mini tummy tuck vs. a full tummy tuck?

Let’s explore the key differences between these popular procedures to help you determine the right approach for sculpting your midsection and achieving your goals.

What Is a Full Tummy Tuck?

A full tummy tuck addresses loose, stretched skin in the upper and lower midsection. It also tightens weakened or separated abdominal muscles, reduces fat deposits, and reshapes the opening around the bellybutton.

I use a curved, horizontal incision to lift and remove excess skin and fat. I then repair the muscles before pulling the skin tightly back over the abdomen. Finally, I make a new opening in the skin for the bellybutton stalk and close the incisions with sutures. Tummy tuck incisions are typically well concealed: The scars around the bellybutton eventually blend into the navel’s natural contours, and the hip-to-hip horizontal scar is low enough to be hidden by bikini underwear.

Features of a full tummy tuck:

  • Targets the entire midsection
  • Repairs separated abdominal muscles
  • Reconstructs the bellybutton opening
  • Achieves comprehensive results

What Can a Mini Tummy Tuck Do?

A mini tummy tuck is less invasive than a full tummy tuck and targets a smaller abdominal area. During this procedure, I make a small incision in the lower abdomen to tighten loose skin. This incision is shorter than a full tummy tuck incision.

Features of a mini tummy tuck:

  • Targets only the area below the bellybutton
  • Doesn’t include abdominal muscle repair or bellybutton repositioning
  • Usually requires less operating time
  • May cost slightly less than a full tummy tuck
  • Requires a shorter recovery window

Am I a Good Candidate?

While both procedures flatten and tighten the midsection, we find that most patients achieve more satisfying results from a full tummy tuck. During your consultation, I will:

  • Perform a thorough physical examination
  • Discuss your needs and goals
  • Develop a treatment plan to achieve your desired results
  • Answer your questions about the procedure and your recovery

If your body contouring goals extend beyond a full tummy tuck, I may also recommend other procedures, such as liposuction or a comprehensive mommy makeover.

The following criteria can also help determine which path we elect to take:

  • Amount of excess, sagging skin. The greater the area targeted, the more likely I will recommend a full tummy tuck—especially if the ab muscles are extremely weak or separated.
  • Recovery. A full tummy tuck requires a longer recovery (4 to 6 weeks) than a less invasive mini tummy tuck (1 to 2 weeks).
  • Results. Full tummy tuck results are more transformative than mini tummy tuck results.

It comes down to this: Ideal candidates for a full tummy tuck are typically patients with excess, sagging abdominal skin on both the upper and lower abdomen who desire comprehensive results. They can also set aside more time for their recovery. Patients who aren’t quite ready for a full tummy tuck and who want a less invasive approach are better suited for a mini tummy tuck.

Request a Consultation

Are you ready to tighten up your midsection and enhance your self-confidence with a full or mini tummy tuck? We invite you to request a consultation or call us at (804) 267-6009 to schedule an appointment at our practice near Richmond, VA.


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