The appearance of navel after tummy tuck can make or break the results. The goal is to avoid surgical stigmata such as misaligned belly button, visible scar around it, or perfectly round shape, as suggested by renowned Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Dr. Tarick Smiley who has performed more than 7,000 surgeries to date.
Most people think that tummy tuck simply removes the pannus, an apron-like skin that can sometimes reach the pubis, leading to skin irritation, foul odor, and poor hygiene. However, Dr. Smiley says that the surgery is more than that.
Aside from pannus removal, tummy tuck also typically incorporates muscle tightening, liposuction of the flanks, navel repair, and sometimes even hernia repair.
The correct anatomic position of the navel must be determined to achieve the most natural results possible. Hence, surgeons generally do not detach the belly button from its stalk and main blood supply during the entire surgery.
After removing the excess skin in the lower abdomen with a hip-to-hip incision, the skin in the upper abdomen is pulled down to close the wound and a new hole is cut out to inset the navel. Meanwhile, the scar lies inside the rim of the belly button for its optimal concealment.
Simply put, the navel remains in its original placement, although it may appear a bit higher or lower after removing the loose skin around it.
Meanwhile, the hip-to-hip scar is made very low that even the lowest “low rise” jeans and underwear can cover it. Over time and possibly with the use proactive scar treatments (e.g., silicone sheets and scar massage), it is expected to fade into the background.
Dr. Smiley says that a good number of tummy tuck patients need some type of navel repair, e.g., reducing its size and/or width or turning an outie into an innie. It is also critical to preserve its natural shape—i.e., with a small hooding at around 2 o’clock or 10 o’clock, and it should be somewhat vertically oriented.