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Adam G. Tattlebaum M.D.

What Happens To The Belly Button After A Tummy Tuck?

Patients sometimes seem confused about what happens to the belly button after a full or standard tummy tuck. The fate of the belly button depends on the type of tummy tuck performed. Some tummy tucks don’t impact the belly button, while others require more intensive work. In this post, we’ll explain what you can expect.

Belly Button After Mini Tummy Tuck

In a mini tummy tuck, a wedge of skin is taken out of the lower abdomen. The belly button remains in place, it may be pulled a little but stays for the most part as it started.

Belly Button After Umbilical Float Tummy Tuck

In an umbilical float tummy tuck, the belly button is elevated with the skin and pulled down with the skin, so it is pretty much your belly button without change just moved to a lower location. This type of tummy tuck is generally considered in very tall patients.

Belly Button After Full Tummy Tuck

It is the standard or “full” tummy tuck where the belly button is most confusing.

In a full tummy tuck procedure, the stalk of the belly button is left attached to the abdominal wall while the skin all around it is elevated. The elevated skin is then pulled downwards, excess skin is cut away above the pubic incision and a new hole has to be made in the right location to pull that belly button stalk to the surface. It is your belly button in just about the same location, but coming out through a new hole.

Naturally, this leaves a scar around the belly button.

In thicker patients, this belly button scar pulls inwards and can be hard to see. In slender patients with less depth, the scar can be more superficial and visible. For this reason, I always favor creating small belly buttons— I think they are less eye-catching in any circumstance.

Are there any belly button issues to be wary of after a tummy tuck?

The belly button is one of the two things we watch closely after a tummy tuck. The other is the skin of the lower abdomen. Both areas are where the blood supply is stressed the most and healing issues, while very rare, can occur.

The good news is that even if a belly button does not heal, a hole then heals in and looks like a belly button anyway. Be sure to let your surgeon know if you have had a prior umbilical hernia repair as this can impact healing.

How long does it take for the belly button to recover?

Like all scars in a tummy tuck, I recommend gentle massage to help minimize the scar tissue. It takes between 6 to 12 months for the scars to fade and soften maximally.

I never recommend sticking a marble in the belly button, although for some reason that idea floats around the internet.

For more information about recovering from a tummy tuck, read our post: A Patient’s Guide To Tummy Tuck Recovery

What can you do if your belly button looks weird after a tummy tuck?

While nothing is as natural as a god-given belly button, I give it great focus because to me it will one day be the only visible part of the tummy tuck. Making small belly buttons larger is far easier than making big ones smaller, so I always favor small. All sutures should be placed underneath the skin to minimize visibility.

Correcting an overly large or weird-looking belly button is best accomplished with a second tummy tuck (if possible), which is best avoided at all costs by getting it right in the original surgery.

Can you get a belly button piercing afterwards?

Some patients will want to pierce their belly buttons after a tummy tuck, but it should be done with caution. Sometimes the metal of a piercing can cause inflammation of scars and make them more noticeable.

If it is done at all, it is best to wait 6-12 months until the scars are fully healed. You may wish to consult your surgeon first.

Summary

A tummy tuck is not for the faint of heart. It is a real surgery, with real recovery and, dare I say, risk. The belly button thinking, the scar placement and managing expectations are all key to making patients happy. Yet, for the patients who are doing everything right post-partum or after weight loss, I can think of nothing more gratifying than a tummy tuck to help achieve their aesthetic goals.

January 14, 2023 3:41 pm
Categories: Blog

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