A Tummy Tuck procedure remains one of the most popular surgeries to enhance a patient’s aesthetic in 2020. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the Tummy Tuck, medically referred to as an Abdominoplasty, is one of the top 5 surgical procedures performed in the United States.

What is a Tummy Tuck?

A Tummy Tuck is a plastic surgery procedure designed to firm, smooth and contour the abdomen. The Aesthetic Society describes the procedure as removing excess skin and tightening the muscles of the abdominal wall.

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the most common causes that develop an abdomen with loose or sagging skin are aging, hereditary conditions, pregnancy, prior surgery and significant fluctuations in weight.

Tummy Tuck patients have reported the main benefits as:

  • A trim, contoured waistline and firmer abdomen
  • Confidence in buying and wearing new clothes
  • Removed or reduced stretch marks.

Why are there different types of Tummy Tuck?

Every patient has their unique aesthetic goals and desired outcomes of treatment. Their surgeon will recommend the type of surgery that they believe will be able to achieve the patient’s goals and minimize any concerns they have about scarring and creating a natural look.

The Tummy Tuck types vary due to the amount of excess skin that patients may have. The excess skin that a patient wants to be removed will influence the location and length of the incision that the surgeon needs to make. A patient who is undertaking an Extended Tummy Tuck will require a larger incision than a patient who is undergoing a Mini Tummy Tuck, for example.

What are the different Tummy Tuck procedure types?

Full Tummy Tuck

According to the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, the Full Tummy Tuck is designed to improve both the upper and lower abdomen.

Patients in good health who have weakened abdominal muscles or excessive skin around their midsection may consider a Full Tummy Tuck to flatten and contour the areas above and below their belly buttons.

According to Boston Plastic Surgeon, Dr. Mark Markarian a Full Tummy Tuck includes.

  • Making a small umbilical incision that is not externally visible – giving patients an “innie” belly button
  • Positioning a short, low waistline incision designed to be easily hidden by the patient’s underwear or swimsuit
  • Removing the necessary skin
  • Tightening the abdominal muscles.

One of the most frequently asked questions about Tummy Tucks is: What is the recovery time?

As with all surgeries, the recovery time will depend somewhat on the age, fitness and general health of the patient. WebMD reports that patients may need drainage tubes under their skin for a few days. Dr. Markarian advises the down time following the procedure is usually a week, patients can resume most activities within 3 weeks and be able to fully exercise after 6 weeks.

Mini Tummy Tuck

Unlike a Full Tummy Tuck, the Mini Tummy Tuck address only the lower abdomen – the area below the belly button. The American Board of Plastic Surgery suggests that patients who are concerned by a “pooch”, loose skin or stretch marks below their belly button may want to consider a Mini Tummy Tuck.

Patients who undertake a Mini Tummy Tuck are often close to their ideal weight but frustrated by stubborn fat between the pubic area and navel that they have been unable to get rid of despite rigorous exercise and strict dieting for years.

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, a Mini Tummy Tuck involves:

  • Making a small horizontal incision between the hipbones
  • Removing excess skin
  • Tightening underlying muscles.

In a Mini Tummy Tuck, a patient’s belly button is not repositioned as any excess skin, fat or muscle laxity above the belly button is not addressed. As the scope of the Mini Tummy Tuck is less than the Full Tummy Tuck, healthy patients have been known to heal in 2 weeks. Strenuous activities should not be undertaken until at least 6 weeks following surgery.

Extended Tummy Tuck

An Extended Tummy Tuck involves the components of a Full Tummy Tuck with the addition of improving a patient’s flanks. This can be an effective treatment for patients that have lost a substantial amount of weight and are looking to refine the contours of their body.

Typical candidates for an Extended Tummy Tuck often have:

  • An abundance of excess skin hanging from their upper and lower abdomen and flanks – in some cases, weighing several pounds
  • Significant laxity in their abdominal muscles.

Extended Tummy Tuck patients may also benefit from liposuction, usually performed on the hips, love handles and flanks, during their procedure to achieve their ideal body contour.

This procedure involves a longer incision than a Full Tummy Tuck as the scope is larger. The postoperative scar following the procedure can often be hidden by clothing or swimsuits.

The recovery time for an Extended Tummy Tuck is similar to that of a Full Tummy Tuck. However, according to MedicalNewsToday, the scar from an Extended Tummy Tuck may take longer to heal.

Fleur-De-Lis Tummy Tuck

Plastic Surgeon, Dr. Jaime Schwartz, explains that the Fleur-De-Lis Tummy Tuck gets its name from the incision’s shape. The surgery involves the plastic surgeon making an incision that’s shaped like the petals of a Fleur-De-Lis.

Board-Certified Boston Plastic Surgeon, Dr. Mark Markarian, advises that the Fleur-De-Lis Tummy Tuck is for patients who have excess skin in the midline of their abdomen.

Candidates for a Fleur-De-Lis Tummy Tuck have often experienced dramatic weight loss and have a combination of vertical and horizontal laxity. Like Full Tummy Tuck candidates, they have a lower roll of loose skin, but have the addition of looseness from side-to-side.

This Tummy Tuck type, according to CER Hospital, involves two incisions. Like a Full Tummy Tuck, an incision is made along the pubic bone and there is a vertical incision that runs along the middle of the abdomen. The extra incision is intended to allow the surgeon to tighten a patient’s skin from the side-to-side as well as up-and-down, which can drastically improve the look of the abdomen.

Dr. Markarian urges patients to reflect on the scar burden that the Fleur-De-Lis Tummy Tuck can cause and to consider the decision to pursue this type of Tummy Tuck carefully.

Fleur-De-Lis Tummy Tuck patients are advised to not return to work for 2 or 3 weeks and should not exercise until 6 weeks following their surgery.

Drainless Tummy Tuck

Drains are typically temporarily placed through a small incision during some Tummy Tuck procedures. Drains are used to eliminate the collection of fluid that builds up between the skin and muscle following a Tummy Tuck procedure.

To alleviate the need for drains, Tummy Tuck procedures can be performed using a progressive suture method. ASPS report that surgeons can use a quilting technique that secure the abdominal skin to the underlying tissue layers – creating a tighter bond and reducing the room for fluid to build up.

Though these advances may be appealing to some patients, there are other potential downsides. The technique requires more surgical time which brings its own potential risks and complications. According to Dr. Schlesinger, “some surgeons find this progressive quilting process limits the amount of abdominal skin tightening that can be achieved.”

Drainless Tummy Tuck patients should expect to wear a compression garment during their healing process. Most patients are able to return to work within 1 or 2 weeks depending on the strenuousness of their job. The recovery following a Drainless Tummy Tuck is generally less than that of a Full Tummy Tuck.

Tummy Tuck with Liposuction

When performed as a single procedure, a Tummy Tuck is designed to excise excess skin, not to remove a patient’s fat. Liposuction is a procedure that contours the body by removing pockets of fat.

Combining Liposuction with a Tummy Tuck procedure is common and can be beneficial for patients that want any body fat addressing simultaneously with eliminating loose skin and repairing muscle tissue.

Kate Bayless, in her article for WomensHealthMag, advised prospective Tummy Tuck patients to not be offended if their plastic surgeon recommends some element of liposuction in their surgery. She said “In order to get the best results, many surgeons use liposuction or fat-to-fat grafts to help them reshape and contour.”

Tummy Tuck with Liposuction patients may require a variety of areas to be operated on. Prospective patients considering this combination of procedures should contact a board-certified plastic surgeon to understand the process for recovery.

Non-Surgical Tummy Tuck

Non-surgical skin tightening can be very appealing for prospective patients. Patients are sometimes concerned with invasive procedures and the lack of downtime for non-invasive treatment can be attractive.

Prospective patients with mild or moderate loose skin on their body may be candidates for non-surgical skin tightening. Many treatment options can provide a lift effect and results can last for up to one year.

Non-surgical alternatives may not produce the desired results for many patients and is not considered an effective treatment for patients with excess sagging skin following pregnancy or weight loss.


The best plastic surgery patients are those that have done their research and understand the benefits and risks of a procedure.

If you are considering any type of Tummy Tuck, the next step would be to contact a board-certified plastic surgeon in Boston for a consultation to access all the information that you need to make a fully informed decision.

Dr. Markarian advises bringing a list of questions to make the most out of your consultation, including:

  • What can realistically be achieved?
  • What is involved in the surgery?
  • How much could the operation help reach your goals?
  • How long will the recovery be?

You can find a list of the Most Frequently Asked Questions about Tummy Tuck in Boston.


Please note: All materials on the Site, such as text, treatments, outcomes, photographs and images and any other material provided on the Site are for information purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding treatments. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Site.
Though the content of this page has been carefully prepared, the author of this content is not a medical doctor and the content has not been reviewed by a Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon.
Unless specifically stated, patients referred to in this blog have not received surgery by Dr Mark Markarian. This blog does not endorse the work of any doctors or surgeons mentioned. Stories relating to patients’ personal experiences of surgery should be treated as anecdotal only.
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