It is often a great source of mystery to patients as to what happens to their belly button when they have a tummy tuck.
They often think it gets moved or a new one is made.
In fact, just before we published this blog post, someone asked this question on one of my Facebook Live Q&A sessions:
The two commonest forms of tummy tuck are a mini tummy tuck and a full tummy tuck.
A mini tummy tuck involves removing the skin and fat just above the pubic area.
For patients who have some fullness, usually following a pregnancy, possibly with a Caesarean section scar and overhang above it, a mini tummy tuck removes the overhang, flattens the contour of the lower abdomen and nothing is done to the belly button, leaving one scar in a similar position to the Caesarean scar, although slightly longer.
The belly button itself does not have any scars around it and remains in broadly the same position, although it may get pulled down a bit.
In contrast, a full tummy tuck involves removing all of the skin from just above the belly button to the pubic area, so the belly button has to be re-positioned.
This involves making a cut around the belly button where the umbilical stalk is attached to the abdominal wall whilst the skin is re-draped.
When the lower abdominal apron is removed and the wound is closed, a hole is made in the skin fat at the position of the umbilical stalk and the original belly button is poked through this hole and sutured in place.
So whilst the skin around the belly button will be new, the skin inside the belly button is the same skin that was there pre-operatively.
This is probably best demonstrated in before and after photos, so you can see the position of moles originally in the upper abdomen which then get pulled down when the skin is tightened, and then the belly button is brought through into the new piece of skin.
It is only in very rare cases that the belly button is removed.
In these situations it can either be simply left off completely or a new belly button can be re-created using plastic surgery techniques.
The aim is always to put the scar inside the belly button so it is not too visible and we go to great lengths to fashion the skin around the belly button so that it sits in a slight depression, with a superior hood to give a natural and aesthetically pleasing contour to the central part of the abdomen, which is one of the nuances of tummy tuck surgery, and one of the main areas where care and planning are required in order to transform the abdominal contour and to get a great result. In fact, I have published a surgical technique for re-siting the belly button after tummy tuck here.
You can join me on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube where I do a live Q and A every Tuesday at 7 p.m. where I will be available live to interact and discuss any issues and to answer them to the best of my knowledge and abilities.