A panniculectomy is a surgical procedure that removes the pannus—a term meant to describe the excess skin and tissue concentrated around the lower abdomen. At first glance, a panniculectomy procedure may seem a lot like a tummy tuck procedure, but the key difference that prevents panniculectomy surgeries from being cosmetic is that they do not tighten up the connective tissue and muscles within the abdomen. As such, there are no cosmetic benefits or shaping that a tummy tuck would otherwise entail.
So who are panniculectomy procedures for? Generally, patients that undergo a panniculectomy are people who have lost a significant amount of weight through exercise or surgery. While the fat may be gone, the skin’s elasticity may be worn out and, as a result, leaves an apron of excess skin and tissue. This excess can cause skin rashes, irritation, odors, and moisture. Patients who still have an excess of abdominal fat may undergo this surgery because the weight is causing back pain, skin rashes, or even ulcers.
A panniculectomy procedure can last up to five hours and involves the administration of general anesthesia since it’s an invasive surgery. When you first meet with one of our plastic surgeons, you’ll spend your first visit going over your medical history and ensuring that you have a complete understanding of the service. Your surgeon will make two incisions: a horizontal cut from one hipbone to the other and a vertical cut extending to the pubic bone. The length of these cuts will vary depending on how much excess tissue needs to be removed, but afterward, the incisions are pulled together and sewn shut. In some cases, your doctor will insert drains to prevent a build-up of fluids in the time your body takes to heal.
In most cases, this is an outpatient surgery, meaning you won’t be required to stay overnight. Instead, your doctor will instruct you to be cautious and avoid strenuous activity to prevent blood clots from forming.