Panniculectomy is a surgery done to remove stretched out, excess fat and overhanging skin from your abdomen. This can occur after a person undergoes massive weight loss. The skin may hang down and cover your thighs and genitals. Surgery to remove this skin helps improve your health and appearance.
Panniculectomy is different from abdominoplasty. In abdominoplasty, your surgeon will remove extra fat and also tighten your abdominal (belly) muscles. Sometimes, both types of surgery are performed at the same time.
The surgery will take place in a hospital or a surgery center. This surgery may take several hours.
When you lose a lot of weight, such as 100 pounds (45 kg) or more after bariatric surgery, your skin may not be elastic enough to shrink back to its natural shape. This can cause the skin to sag and hang. It may cover your thighs and genitals. This extra skin can make it hard to keep yourself clean and to walk and perform daily activities. It also can cause rashes or sores. Clothing may not fit properly.
Panniculectomy is done to remove this extra skin (pannus). This can help you feel better about yourself and feel more confident in your appearance. Removing extra skin also may reduce your risk for rashes and infection.
Risks for anesthesia and surgery in general are:
Risks of this surgery are:
Your surgeon will ask about your detailed medical history. The surgeon will examine the excess skin and old scars, if any. Tell your doctor about any prescription and over-the-counter medicines, herbs, or supplements you are taking.
Your doctor will ask you to quit smoking if you smoke. Smoking slows recovery and increases the risks of problems. Your doctor may suggest you quit smoking before having this surgery.
During the week before your surgery:
On the day of surgery:
Note that panniculectomy is not always covered by health insurance. It is mostly a cosmetic procedure done to change your appearance. If it is done for a medical reason, such as hernia, your bills may be covered by your insurance company. Be sure to check with your insurance company before the surgery to find out about your benefits.
You will need to stay at hospital for about two days after the surgery. You may need to stay longer if your surgery is more complex.
After you recover from the anesthesia, you will be asked to get up to walk a few steps.
You will have pain and swelling for days after surgery. Your doctor will give you pain killers to help relieve the pain. You may also experience numbness, bruising, and tiredness during that time. It may help to rest with your legs and hips bent during recovery to reduce pressure on your abdomen.
After a day or so, your doctor may have you wear an elastic support, like a girdle, to provide extra support while you heal. You should avoid strenuous activity and anything that makes you strain for 4 to 6 weeks. You will probably be able to return to work in about 4 weeks.
It takes about 3 months for swelling to go down and wounds to heal. But it can take up to 2 years to see the final results of the surgery and for scars to fade.
The outcome of panniculectomy is often good. Most people are happy with their new appearance.
Reviewed By: David A. Lickstein, MD, FACS, specializing in cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery, Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.