University of Virginia Plastic Surgery
1300 Jefferson Park Avenue 4th Floor
Charlottesville, VA 22908
Phone: (434) 924-1234
Location Hours: Monday–Friday | 8 a.m.–5 p.m.

What Happens to the Bellybutton During a Tummy Tuck?

Woman's torso in a burgundy t-shirt and blue jeans exposing toned tummy

Besides being asked occasionally about whether you have an “innie” or an “outie,” most of us rarely think about our bellybutton’s appearance. For the record, only about 10% of people have an outie. For patients getting a tummy tuck at our Charlottesville or Fishersville, VA, plastic surgery practice, though, the bellybutton is a central part of the procedure.

That’s because one of the tell-tale signs of a poor tummy tuck outcome is when the bellybutton (umbilicus) looks unnatural after being repositioned. The plastic surgeon’s goal should be to make the position proportional (neither too high nor too low) and to keep the navel relatively small while avoiding a circular scar. The scar should be kept internal.

In this blog post, I’ll explain what happens to a bellybutton during an abdominoplasty (tummy tuck surgery) and discuss how plastic surgeons reposition and reshape the navel.

How Is a Tummy Tuck Performed?

The goal of a tummy tuck is to create a flatter, more toned stomach for patients who have excess skin following pregnancy or some other significant weight loss. Both women and men can get tummy tucks, but the most common patient is a woman who has had children. Women often combine it with other procedures as part of a Mommy Makeover. The procedure begins with making an incision as low as possible on the abdomen so it can be concealed with a bikini bottom. If the patient has a pregnancy-related condition called diastasis recti, which occurs when abdominal muscles separate and don’t heal on their own, the surgeon will repair the muscles during the procedure.

Why Is the Bellybutton Involved?

Because the excess skin is pulled down and removed during the procedure, the surgeon makes an incision around the bellybutton to free the skin. It remains attached to the stalk, but the surgeon needs to create a notch where the bellybutton will appear after the surgery. Our surgeons at UVA Plastic Surgery take great care in positioning the bellybutton where it will look natural, ensuring it doesn’t appear too round or too narrow. Even an otherwise successful tummy tuck can be marred by a navel that doesn’t look natural.

For patients who want to change outies to innies, that can be incorporated as part of the procedure.

Is the Bellybutton Always Part of a Tummy Tuck?

When the aesthetic concern is limited to the area below the bellybutton, a mini tummy tuck may be an appropriate surgical approach. Relatively few tummy tuck patients are good candidates for this technique. In a mini tummy tuck, the surgeon makes a shorter incision along the abdomen. No incision around the navel is needed. Patients can discuss this option during the consultation.

Seeing before-and-after photos of tummy tuck patients really drives home how physically transformative this procedure can be for both women and men.

If you’re looking in the Richmond, VA, area for a plastic surgeon to perform a tummy tuck, you can contact us using the online form to request a consultation or call us at (434) 924-1234 to schedule an appointment.

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