Belly Button After Tummy Tuck: Will it Always Look Like This?
To me, one of the most important parts of a tummy tuck is the belly button. Whether we like or don’t like the tummy tuck scar itself, it is usually concealed under the bathing suit or bikini line, but the belly button is there for all to view. I wish more surgeons focused on it. An overly large belly button can diminish what is otherwise a lovely result.
I always tell my patients that nothing is as natural as a god-given belly button, but I do my best to keep it as natural as possible after surgery.
Belly button thinking
Keep it simple
I have seen surgeons make all sorts of unusual shapes in a quest for the “perfect” belly button. In my opinion, the simpler the better. I make a short horizontal line and remove little if any skin. Because of the downward tension on the abdominal skin, that horizontal line elongates into a diamond. That is all you need and as the umbilical skin heals the diamond becomes rounder.
That horizontal incision, which elongates into a diamond, also allows me to pull the abdominal scar down lower- so to me it is a win/win.
Keep it small
I like small belly buttons for three reasons:
- Smaller belly buttons are less obtrusive. Meaning, they draw less attention.
- I don’t know what kind of scar you will make. While I use all the tools in my power to make your scars beautiful, ultimately, your genetics will determine how much scar tissue you lay down. A smaller belly button will generally leave a smaller scar.
- If a belly button is too small making it larger is easier, but if a belly button is too large making it smaller is far more difficult.
Keep it low
To some extent, in a standard tummy tuck, we are beholden to the starting position of the belly button. But when the tissues are elevated that little stalk can be nudged up or down and even right to left. When I can, aesthetically I prefer a little lower. In my opinion, an umbilicus in the lower third of the abdomen tends to make the torso look longer and hence leaner.
Leave it long
We can leave some surrounding skin which, when flipped up, will deepen the stalk when the belly button is freed from the surrounding tissue. Why would you do this? Most women having tummy tuck have muscle tightening. When the midline tummy muscles are pulled together, tissues in between, including the belly button stalk, are pulled inward. Starting with a longer stalk allows a more precise and tension-free closure. If too long, the stalk is easily trimmed as it is inset.
Quilting and tension
As many of you know I quilt my tummies. That means I sew down the abdominal wall skin so it heals more quickly. It also lets me pull the abdominal skin to the belly button without pulling on the stalk. Less tension often means less risk of healing issues and hopefully a better scar. Removing some fat in the area where the belly button will be placed also helps to minimize tension and improve contour.
While my way is not the only way, and nothing is foolproof, it has been an evolution. It has always been my goal to put as many patients as I can back into a two-piece bathing suit, have them feel good about it, and hopefully have no one know I’ve even been there.
Choose Dr. Adam Tattelbaum for Your Tummy Tuck
Dr. Adam G. Tattelbaum, MDPC, is a double-board certified plastic surgeon who specializes in tummy tuck procedures. If you are considering either procedure and would like to know more, call Dr.Tattelbaum’s office at (301)-656-6398 or contact us online.
Dr. Tattelbaum offers in-person consultations at his offices in Mclean, Virginia, and Rockville, Maryland. Virtual consultations are also available.