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Panniculectomy

Excess, low-hanging skin in the lower belly can cause various discomforts and affect your daily life.

A panniculectomy removes this excess skin and reduces issues that come with it, such as irritation and rashes.


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What Is Panniculectomy?

Panniculectomy is surgery to remove excess skin (known as pannus or an “apron") from the lower part of the stomach.

It differs from a tummy tuck because it's not a cosmetic operation. Surgeons use panniculectomy solely to relieve symptoms of an overhanging apron of skin.

The procedure involves a scar across the lower stomach area.

Is a Panniculectomy Right for Me?

People of any age with excess skin and fat in the lower abdomen may be right for this procedure.

Panniculectomy might be right for you have your excess skin causes symptoms such as:

  • Fungal infections.
  • Lower back pain.
  • Skin irritation.

Some people with an apron of skin may also be candidates for a standard tummy tuck. Plastic surgeons can perform both at the same time.

People with a lower BMI at the time of surgery will get better results.

Before Your Panniculectomy

Your plastic surgeon will do a thorough exam of your belly and look for any scars from prior surgery.

In addition to the exam, your surgeon will assess your overall health.

They'll look for any issues that could cause complications, such as:

  • Bleeding or blood clotting disorders.
  • Blood pressure.
  • History of adverse scars from prior surgeries.

You and your plastic surgeon will also talk about:

  • Your concerns about your current apron of skin.
  • Your goals and what you expect from surgery.
  • The length and position of the scar on your stomach. Your surgeon can use a medical marker and draw it on your skin, so you know what to expect.
  • The risks and benefits of a panniculectomy.

To help get ready for your procedure, your care team will talk to you about:

  • Medications to avoid and when to take your prescribed meds.
  • Proper washing of your incision.
  • Any eating or drinking restrictions the night before surgery
  • Quitting smoking.

Panniculectomy Risks

A panniculectomy is a major surgery that involves a lifelong scar. It will not correct loose skin on the upper abdomen.

In addition to the risks linked to anesthesia, risks of panniculectomy can include:

  • Belly button loss.
  • Slow wound healing that will need treatment with gauze dressings.
  • Fluid build-up (seroma) under the skin that requires drainage in the surgeon's office.
  • Bleeding or infection.

This procedure isn't right for everyone. Your risks may be greater or differ than those of others.

Your plastic surgeon will review all potential risks and complications with you prior to surgery.

Where Do I Go to Have My Panniculectomy Surgery?

Most panniculectomy surgeries take place in a hospital as outpatient surgery. Some people may need to stay overnight.

Be sure to ask someone to drive you to and from the hospital.

What to Expect During Surgery

You will receive general anesthesia, then your plastic surgeon will:

  • Make an incision from one hip bone to the next.
  • Remove as much excess skin and fat as they can
  • Stitch up your belly.

Recovery After Panniculectomy

In most cases, you:

  • Will have stomach pain for the first 24 to 48 hours post-op.
  • Will have a compressive binder around the belly.
  • Can shower within the first few days after surgery.
  • Need to stay flexed at the waist for a few days.
  • Can go out in public in four to five days.
  • Must limit brisk physical activity for four weeks after surgery.

What Results Can I Expect After Surgery?

After panniculectomy, you can expect:

  • A large scar that should start to fade in about a year. Your underwear or bathing suit bottom often cover the scar.
  • A slimmer appearance once any swelling goes down.
  • Relief from symptoms such as skin rashes, boils, and irritation.
  • An improved look of the stomach if you had a tummy tuck at the same time.

Cost of Panniculectomy

Some health insurance plans cover this operation.

Check your plan for their coverage requirements, such as three months of prescription creams or oral antibiotics.

Call 1-877-639-9688 to discuss payment options with UPMC experts.