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Mini Tummy Tuck (Partial Abdominoplasty): Procedure, Recovery Time, and Cost

Updated on April 19, 2016

The mini tummy tuck, also known as the "scarless" tummy tuck, is increasingly becoming the abdominoplasty procedure of choice. Since it is less invasive, risky, and painful than a full tummy tuck, a partial tummy tuck may the procedure you're looking for if you just want to get rid of little extra skin. Read on to learn the difference between a partial and full abdominoplasty, ideal candidates, how the procedure is performed, and the cost of the operation.

The mini tummy tuck vs. full tummy tuck

A mini tummy tuck, as the name suggests, is a less invasive and extensive operation than a full tummy tuck.  While a full abdominoplasty procedure involves making incisions across the lower abdomen and around the navel, partial abdominoplasty incisions tend to be much smaller and the navel is left in tact.   Simply put, full tummy tucks involve the entire abdominal area while partial tummy tucks only involve the abdominal area below the belly button.  A full tummy tuck is a much riskier procedure than a mini tummy tuck with a longer recovery time.  However, the results of a partial procedure will be less dramatic than a full procedure.

Mini tummy tucks are generally recommended for patients that are within 10 percent of their ideal body weight.  A surgeon may also recommend a partial procedure if your main concern is with excess skin below the navel.  If you have bulging above the navel, extreme loose skin, and stretch marks, a full tummy tuck will most likely be the better procedure.  To determine the best operation for you, consult with a board certified plastic surgeon that has plenty of experience with abdominoplasty surgeries.

photo source: Sarahjjohnson123
photo source: Sarahjjohnson123

Is mini tummy tuck surgery right for me?

The only way you can truly decided whether or not a mini tummy tuck surgery is the best option is by consulting with an experienced professional plastic surgeon.  In general, you may be an ideal candidate for a mini abdominoplasty operation if you meet the following criteria:

  • Has good overall health
  • Within 10% of ideal body weight
  • Body weight has been stable for >6 months
  • Has a good diet and exercises regularly
  • Has loose skin resistant to exercise
  • Has good skin elasticity and tone
  • Be of sound mind and emotionally stable
  • Understands the risks of surgery, and
  • Has realistic expectations of the final outcome.
A mini tummy tuck is for those who do not have significant protrusion of the abdominal wall.  Those who have an abdominal area that is beginning to sag due to aging, or slim abdominal muscles that they desire to sculpt into a more desirable shape, may find that a partial tummy tuck is right for them.

Mini abdominoplasty procedure

Before the operation, your surgeon will consult with you to understand your expecations and will determine whether or not your goals are realistic.  During this consultation, the doctor will evaluate your medical history, your overall health, the fat deposits in the abdominal section, and the skin tone.

At your initial consultation, your plastic surgeon will evaluate your health, determine the extent of fat deposits in your abdomen, and assess your skin tone. Be specific about what you would like done. If your surgeon fully understands your expectations, he'll be able to determine whether your goals are realistic.

Right before surgery, your surgeon will mark the areas of the abdomen that will be cut.  The procedure may be performed under general or local anesthesia. During surgery, a small incision will be made below the bikini or boxer line to make the concealing of the scar under clothes easier. Next, excess fat and skin are removed and the abdominal muscle underneath is tightened.  Lastly, the skin is re-draped and shaped over the abdomen.  Even though the belly button is not directly manipulated during the operation, the stretching of the skin during reshaping will improve the appearance of the navel.

For enhanced results, a mini tummy tuck can be combined with liposuction, breast lift, and/or arm lift.  Depending on how much work is being done, you can expect the the entire operation to last between 1-3 hours.

Immediately after surgery, patients are given a compression garment for support and healing.  They should continue to wear this garment for 2-3 weeks after surgery.

Downtime and recovery

Recovery from a partial abdominoplasty is relatively short. Typically, it takes a patient 7-14 days to fully recover. Patients usually become normally active and return to work within two weeks after the operation. Surgeons tend to recommend avoiding strenuous exercise for 30 days after surgery.

Side effects and complications

Because of advance medical technology, having a mini tummy tuck procedure is relatively safe with very little side effects or complications.  Immediately after surgery, you may experience mild discomfort or pain which is easily controlled with prescription oral medication.  Some possible complications include:

  • Infection of the scar
  • Skin necrosis (death), due to poor circulation in the abdominal skin
  • Hematoma, excessive bleeding under the skin after surgery
  • Seroma, fluid collection under the skin.  This is prevented by placing a drain under the skin during surgery
  • Scar tissue

These complications are very rare for a healthy patient.  You may have an increased risk for complications if you smoke, are diabetic, have poor circulation, have a family history of blood clots, take certain medications, or have heart, lung or liver disease.  Complications may be further prevented by being honest with your doctor about your medical history before undergoing surgery.

Mini Tummy Tuck Cost

Mini tummy tuck prices vary depending on your location, where the surgery is performed (i.e. hospital, private office, etc.), anesthesia, and what exactly is required from start to finish.  Mini tummy tuck costs are up to 50% cheaper than full tummy tucks.  You can expect to pay between $1800 up to $6000 depending on the various factors.  The average cost is around $2500.

Health insurance usually does not cover abdominoplasty operation since it is considered as an elective surgery.  However, if a doctor can provide proof that such a procedure is medically necessary for the health and well-being of the patient, the insurance may pay a portion to all of the cost of surgery.  Health insurance may also cover a portion of the costs if there is a hernia present or excessive spreading of the anterior muscles.  Contact your insurance provider regarding your specific policy, and make sure to get proper pre-authorization for surgery.

Mini Tummy Tuck Before and After

Have you had/would like to have a mini tummy tuck? Tell us about it!

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    • profile image

      Roshonda Williams 

      3 years ago

      I would like pricing on a mini tummy tuck

    • profile image

      Becky 48 

      3 years ago

      I just had a mini tuck 6 days ago in St George Utah. I have honestly felt great. First day I was downing a gourmet burger and fries I had positive energy and very little pain. Every day is a little better and I'm ready to get out and about. Just be careful but so what you can. I'm bloated and gassy for sure I can't wait for that to go away but my tummy feels amazingly flat and my skin above my labia is tight also, no more mound. My procedure was $4400. No bad. Dr Lawrence Chase in St. George Utah. I feel amazing!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      my mini tuck was about 4 weeks ago and muscle tightening and now it looks like i have a cleft in the middle oo my stomach is this normal

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      This is really interesting post for me. I wasn't know about these all information of mini tummy tuck. But i have little confused that isn't any side effects?


      tummy tuck pasadena :

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      I'd love to have a mini tummy tuck, but for most of us, it's the cost! Anyone know of getting free of charge?


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