Beautiful, healthy woman on beach with toned abdomen

A mini tummy tuck, medically known as a partial abdominoplasty, is a popular cosmetic surgery designed to enhance the lower abdomen’s appearance. Unlike a full tummy tuck, which addresses the entire abdominal area, the mini tummy tuck targets the region below the navel. This surgical approach offers a more focused and less invasive option for those seeking to refine their lower abdominal contour.

The primary distinction between a mini and a full tummy tuck lies in the scope of the surgical area. A full tummy tuck involves the removal of excess skin and fat from the entire abdominal region and often includes tightening the abdominal wall muscles. In contrast, a mini tummy tuck concentrates solely on the area beneath the belly button, resulting in a smaller scar and typically a quicker recovery period.

What is a Mini Tummy Tuck?

A mini tummy tuck removes excess skin and fat below the belly button, creating a smoother, firmer abdominal profile. Unlike a full tummy tuck, this procedure does not involve repositioning the navel or extensive muscle tightening. The mini tummy tuck works best for patients who require less extensive correction, offering a more targeted approach.

Mini Tummy Tuck Candidates

Ideal candidates for a mini tummy tuck are typically individuals with good overall health, realistic expectations, and stable weight. This procedure is particularly beneficial for those who struggle with a ‘pooch’ or excess skin in the lower abdomen that does not respond to diet and exercise. It is popular among women post-pregnancy and individuals who have experienced moderate weight loss.


  • Improved Abdominal Contour: A mini tummy tuck removes excess skin and fat, resulting in a flatter and more toned lower abdomen.
  • Removal of Excess Skin: This procedure eliminates the sagging skin that often remains after pregnancy or significant weight loss, enhancing the body’s overall shape and appearance.
  • Potential Improvement in Back Pain: Plicating the lower abdominal muscles may alleviate back pain associated with weakened core muscles.
  • Improved Posture: Strengthening the abdominal area can lead to better posture, as the spine receives more support from the tightened muscles.
  • Increased Confidence: A more desirable abdominal appearance can significantly boost self-confidence and body image.
  • Enhanced Body Image: The improved contour and shape often lead to a more positive self-perception and comfort in various types of clothing, contributing to overall life satisfaction.

Step-by-Step Breakdown of the Mini Tummy Tuck Procedure

Initial Consultation and Planning
Before the surgery, the patient undergoes a thorough consultation with the surgeon to discuss the procedure’s goals, expectations, and specifics. Your plastic surgeon will mark up areas to target during the procedure.

Anesthesia Administration
On the day of your procedure, you’ll receive anesthesia for comfort and safety. We usually use general anesthesia or a combination of local anesthetic and sedation.

Making the Incision
Your surgeon will make a thin horizontal incision above the pubic hairline. The length and shape of the incision are determined based on the extent of the correction needed but are generally smaller than those for a full tummy tuck.

Removing Excess Skin and Fat
We remove excess skin and fat from the lower abdominal region. At this point, we may use liposuction to contour the abdomen and surrounding areas for a more seamless and natural look.

Lower Abdominal Muscle Tightening
Sometimes, the abdominal muscles may be sutured together – or plicated – to tighten and flatten the abdomen. However, this is less common in mini tummy tucks compared to full tummy tucks.

Closing the Incision
The incision is closed with sutures, skin adhesives, or clips. The goal is to ensure minimal scarring and a natural-looking contour. After a mini tummy tuck, patients usually have a discreet incision line hidden under the bikini line.

Post-Procedure Care
Immediately after the surgery, our medical team applies dressings or bandages to the incision sites, and the patient may be wrapped in a compression garment to minimize swelling and support the abdomen as it heals. The whole procedure typically ranges from one to two hours, depending on the extent of the surgery and whether we perform additional procedures like liposuction.

Recovery and Aftercare
Most mini tummy tuck procedures are outpatient, allowing patients to go home the same day. Immediately following surgery, patients can expect some swelling, bruising, and discomfort. Patients typically manage pain with prescribed medication and over-the-counter drugs like Advil and Tylenol. We cover the surgical area with bandages, and patients will wear a compression garment to reduce swelling and support the healing abdomen.

In the initial hours post-surgery, medical staff will monitor vital signs and provide instructions for home care. Patients receive guidelines on how to get up and move around safely, which is crucial for improving circulation and preventing blood clots.

Timeline for Recovery and Return to Normal Activities after a Mini Tummy Tuck

  • First Few Days: Rest is crucial. Patients are encouraged to take short walks to promote circulation.
  • First Two Weeks: Patients typically return to non-strenuous work and can slowly resume some regular activities. However, they should continue to avoid heavy lifting and intense exercise.
  • Four to Six Weeks: Swelling will diminish significantly. Patients usually can start more vigorous activities and exercise with the surgeon’s approval.
  • Full Recovery: Complete healing may take several months. The final results of the surgery will become apparent as the body fully recovers. Patients must attend follow-up appointments and adhere to their surgeon’s advice for optimal results.
  • Long-Term Care: Maintaining a stable weight and healthy lifestyle will help prolong the mini tummy tuck results.

This recovery timeline is an approximation, as individual experiences can vary based on personal health, the extent of the surgery, and the body’s healing capacity. For best results, follow your surgeon’s specific instructions and attend all scheduled post-operative appointments for safe and effective recovery.


Book a Mini Tummy Tuck Consultation in Arizona

Our qualified board-certified plastic surgeons at Plastic Surgeons of Northern Arizona would love to meet you to discuss your goals and treatment options. Book a consultation in Flagstaff, Sedona, Cottonwood, Prescott Valley, or Kingman today.

Author Profile: Brian Cripe, M.D., is an award-winning, board-eligible plastic and reconstructive surgeon proudly working with the Plastic Surgeons of Northern Arizona practice. Dr. Cripe specializes in cosmetic surgery, limb salvage, peripheral nerve microsurgery, hand surgery, and oncologic reconstructive procedures. He has performed over 5,000 surgical cases during his nine-year tenure as a surgeon.

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