Belly button after Tummy Tuck - can it still look natural?

I recently had a tummy tuck (16 days ago to be precise), and I’m worried because my belly button doesn’t look the way I imagined it would… it’s not sufficiently sunken. Do you think it will become more natural looking once it starts to heal? Even though I'm extremely happy with my overall results I'm still considering undergoing a belly button revision. What do you think I should do?


F, 40, Massachusetts

As only two weeks have passed since your surgery, it is extremely likely that your stomach and belly button are still considerably swollen. Abdominoplasty is one of the more invasive plastic surgery procedures, and healing is a dynamic process that takes time: it may be up to a year before your final results are apparent. During this time, you should expect to see many changes as your body recovers from the procedure and settles into its new contours.

Umbilicoplasty is an integral part of tummy tuck surgery requiring skill and finesse, and each surgeon has their own preferred method of surgically reconstructing a natural-looking belly button. Your surgeon should have discussed what you could expect following the procedure. Ideally, the belly button shape should look as natural as possible so the patient feels comfortable wearing tummy revealing swimsuits. In some cases, however, patients are not satisfied with the appearance of their belly button and choose to undergo revision umbilicoplasty.

It sounds as though your belly button is distended because of postoperative swelling. Be patient as your body moves through this early phase of recovery and maintain communication with your surgeon if you have any concerns. Expect significant improvement as the incisions heal. Wearing the compression garment recommended by your surgeon will help reduce swelling and encourage the belly button to recede inwards.

Most experienced plastic surgeons shape the new belly button as an "innie" with a slightly hooded appearance. Some patients benefit from splinting a marble to their belly button to attain a more circular contour as the skin heals, however, check with your surgeon first to determine if they support this practice as an effective one.

Frederic Corbin has 2 Tummy tuck before & afters:

Tummy tuck before image performed by Dr. Frederic CorbinTummy tuck after image performed by Dr. Frederic CorbinTummy tuck before image performed by Dr. Frederic CorbinTummy tuck after image performed by Dr. Frederic Corbin

» View Frederic Corbin's full profile

Adjusting to the look and feel of your new body following any procedure can take time. So as easy as it is for me to say and as difficult as it is for you to do, the best thing that you can do right now is be patient. I continued to see changes in my body’s composition for 4-6 months following my procedure, so giving your body plenty of time to heal is an important first step. Also, keep in mind that you can typically have a bellybutton revision done in the office under local anesthesia, so if you eventually choose to go that route, you’ll be able to quickly and effectively make that decision.

In any case, it’s important to understand that your surgery site is actually a wound that needs plenty of time to heal and a prolonged period to present the final results. Yes, you should see a significant improvement early on, like you have, but the more minute improvements may take some additional time. As you continue to heal, you should see changes in your bellybutton as well; however, if your concern continues, address the issue with your physician.

Additionally, one thing that seemed to really improve the appearance of my bellybutton post-surgery was splinting my bellybutton with a small marble. The marble holds the bellybutton open and guides the development of the skin tissue as the wound heals. It’s important that you use a marble that is not too large and that you keep the bellybutton very clean to avoid potential complications from the splint, though. So it is definitely something that you’d want to discuss with your doctor prior to just choosing to splint it on your own.

Hi lalaband, I’m glad to hear you are happy with your results! I think your belly button will start to look much better once it fully heals. When I had my tummy tuck, my body changed dramatically as it healed. It took almost six months to see how everything would settle into place, but I looked for changes daily. I was initially concerned about my belly button as well; it was thin and narrow like a coin slot. I wanted it to open and have a rounder appearance. After the first three months, I noticed that the shape did eventually change, but the healing was so gradual that it was difficult to notice without comparing my current belly button to post-op photos. Since your surgery was so recent, I would continue to follow your doctor’s post-op directions and monitor your progress with photos or notes. The swelling may be pushing your belly button out and forward. I wouldn’t worry about a belly button revision at this point; you may be looking at a much different shape in a few more months.

My belly button looked abnormal for a good 1.5 months before it started looking normal. It took a while for the swelling under my belly button to go down enough for it to sink down to a normal level. Don't worry, even if your belly button isn't ideal after 2-3 months, my friend had hers corrected and it was a simple in-office procedure. 

I have the EXACT same question! I'm literally 16 days post op when I came across your question because I was googling the same thing. My concern is my belly button depth. The shape looks decent enough, and I know the wound/scars are very fresh so that will take time. The DEPTH is my concern, it just appears shallow. Since I still have swelling, I'm hoping this will impact the belly button depth... Now that it's 2 years out for you, what was your experience? Thanks!!!

Hi Lanamaste! As 9Lives said, you’ll see a gradual improvement in the shape of your belly button over the next few months. The depth does change when swelling goes down completely. It can be hard to notice since the change is so gradual, but over time there really is a difference in depth. You should take some pictures of your belly button every few days to help you see the changes as they happen. If you did have a lot of skin and fat removed during your tummy tuck then it’s normal to see some differences. It’s better to not compare your old belly button to your new one. The belly button can only be as deep as the layer of fat on your stomach, so some change is normal. You’ll start to get used to your new body and it won’t look as strange to you as it might seem now. I’d love to hear more about your progress! I hope that your recovery is quick and painless!

Yes, your belly button can still look natural after a Tummy Tuck. The biggest factors are in the placement of the incisions, making sure the scar will be thin enough, and a tailored scar management treatment plan for after your procedure. Scars normally will be most noticeable at about three-weeks after surgery, but this normal. After all, your skin just underwent a lot of trauma. The entire healing takes a full year, and you can help enhance the healing and the appearance of scarring after a tummy tuck by using your surgeon's custom post op treatment plan.

You should not look at your abdomen or belly button for 6-8 weeks.  You need to wait for all of the swelling to go down.  It will likely go through many changes before then, and nothing would be done for 3-6 months anyway.  It's still very early.  Just concentrate on your recovery. I did and everything worked out for me. Don't worry!