Different Types Of Tummy Tucks – Which Technique Is Best?

Written by Cameron Craven, MD, FACS, Board Certified Plastic Surgeon on April 27, 2017 9 Comments

tummy tuck types

Abdominoplasty surgery, better known as a tummy tuck, continues to be one of the most popular plastic surgery procedures in the United States, with over 242,000 tummy tucks completed in 2021.

Today’s tummy tuck procedure is vastly different than the first procedures performed 100 years ago by French surgeons. Now there are different types of abdominoplasty techniques, each of which address different issues and yield different results.

Here are the 3 most common types of tummy tucks performed today:

Standard Tummy Tuck

Sometimes referred to as a “full tummy tuck”, a standard tummy tuck is ideal for individuals who seek to flatten the abdomen both right above and below the belly button.

During a standard tummy tuck, the surgeon makes a horizontal incision between the hips and around the belly button (umbilicus). The surgeon then removes excess skin and tissue before pulling the remaining muscle and skin tightly over the stomach. The procedure concludes with the surgeon re-positioning the belly button and closing the incision with sutures.

Standard tummy tucks are suitable for healthy men and women who have excessive midsection skin and/or weakening of the abdominal muscles. The procedure is performed under general anesthesia and most patients require about a 2-week recovery period before resuming normal activities.

Mini Tummy Tuck

The mini tummy tuck gets its name as it is less invasive (and provides a more subtle result) compared to a standard tummy tuck. This technique solely addresses the abdomen below the belly button. Thus the mini tummy tuck is ideal for slender patients with a “belly pooch” (a small bulge in the lower abdomen between the mons pubis and belly button).

During a mini tummy tuck the surgeon creates a small horizontal incision under the belly button. The surgeon can then excise extra skin and tightens the stomach muscles before closing the incision. Belly button repositioning is not necessary as this technique is less invasive than a standard tummy tuck.

Due to its less invasive technique, mini tummy tuck procedures can be done under twilight anesthesia and most patients require less than a week to fully recover.

mini tummy tuck diagram
Mini Tummy Tuck Diagram Example

Extended Tummy Tuck (Circumferential Lower Body Lift)

A circumferential lower body lift is more invasive than a standard tummy tuck as it addresses the full abdomen while also targeting the hips and lower back. This technique is ideal for individuals in good overall health who wish to completely reshape their upper body.

To perform a circumferential lower body lift, the surgeon creates a horizontal incision that stretches across the lower belly along with a vertical incision through the belly button. This allows the surgeon to remove more surplus tissue and tighten more abdominal muscles. The surgeon then uses liposuction to remove fat around the lower back and hips and contour those areas. The procedure concludes with the belly button being repositioned before the incision is closed.

Of all the tummy tuck techniques, this surgery technique is most invasive but it also provides the most dramatic results. Patients will usually require 3-4 weeks to recover.

The Best Tummy Tuck Technique

The best tummy tuck technique will differ from individual to individual based on a number of factors including desired result, the location and amount of excess skin, overall skin quality, and the body type of the patient. Any scarring from a previous surgery can also limit which type of tummy tuck a patient is qualified for.

Your first step in getting a tummy tuck is to talk to a skilled plastic surgeon that has an abundance of experience performing all tummy tuck techniques. During an in-person consultation, a surgeon can examine your individual anatomy, discuss all your options, and develop a custom treatment plan with the appropriate type of tummy tuck along with any other necessary procedures.


Cameron Craven, MD, FACS

Cameron Craven MD, FACS is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Dr. Craven specializes in the full spectrum of cosmetic surgery including breast augmentation, liposuction and body contouring, facial rejuvenation, laser surgery, eyelid surgery, and rhinoplasty, as well as reconstructive surgery for skin cancers.

9 Responses to “Different Types Of Tummy Tucks – Which Technique Is Best?”

  1. Avatar Greg says:

    So is it correct to say tummy tucks are for loose skin and lipo is for fat?

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Greg, on a very basic level that is correct. Here is a good post on the difference between tummy tuck procedure and liposuction:

      However, tummy tuck procedures do also get rid of excess fat (along with excess skin and other issues). I would also caution that each patient is different and the final determination of any treatment plan should be created alongside a board certified plastic surgeon!

      Please let us know if you have any additional questions of if you would like to come in for a consultation.

    • Avatar Chelsea says:

      Greg, there are also some good non-surgical body contouring treatments you can consider like CoolSculpting where you freeze your fat off 🙂

  2. Avatar Julianna says:

    My surgery is scheduled in a couple of weeks. My Dr. told me NOT to go on line and research the recovery. I am now deciding she was right. There is some very scary information out there. Your information seems to be very helpful and helps me not feel quite as scared. I really thought I would be back to work after a couple days! Guess not!!

  3. Avatar Leslie says:

    I had full abdominoplasty 5/2/17 and feel really good after 2 weeks and ready to return to work without any heavy lifting. Expect to need a lot of help the first 3-5 days with every day getting better.

  4. Avatar Heather says:

    I underwent a “mini” tummy tuck and am very happy with the results. Recovery was actually not very bad, I saw a huge improvement in a couple of weeks. I had a small “pouch” along with some muscle loosening after my pregnancy, this reversed all of that!!!!

  5. Avatar Marcus says:

    Thanks for mentioning how the best tummy tuck techniques will vary from professional to professional. I can see how anyone looking into this would want to take the time to do some research and find the best way to get the belly they want. I’m currently looking to get a tummy tuck and this post was very helpful!

  6. Avatar Lon says:

    I had a mini tummy tuck and love the results. I just have a small barely noticeable scar that is covered by my panties/swimsuit. Can’t wait to show off this summer 🙂

  7. Avatar Dr. Martin says:

    Good call on mini tummy tucks, we do them on individuals who are close to their ideal weight but have some extra skin around the abdomen. It a great procedure!

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