What is Panniculectomy?

Panniculectomy is a surgical procedure to remove excess fat and skin from the abdomen (known as the pannus). It can help reduce the size of an apron of fat and skin that hangs down from the lower abdomen, and it may improve a person's body image. This excess skin resulting from massive weight loss is often referred to as an "apron of fat" or "apron of skin."

When is Panniculectomy Necessary?

Panniculectomy is typically performed as one part of a series of procedures that are necessary in cases of massive weight loss. Generally speaking, it is recommended for individuals who have lost more than 100 lbs and cannot achieve the desired results with non-surgical/conservative measures, such as diet and exercise. Its main purpose is to remove the excess skin, and it is not meant to create a flat stomach or to achieve a body-contouring effect.

Preparation for Panniculectomy

Prior to surgery, your doctor will perform a physical exam and take a medical history. It may also be necessary for you to undergo specific tests, such as blood work, urine tests, and imaging. Depending on your medical history, you may be advised to stop taking certain medications or supplements prior to surgery.

Types of Panniculectomy

There are two types of panniculectomy: the full or extended panniculectomy, and the limited or standard panniculectomy. The type of procedure that your doctor recommends will depend on the location and extent of the excess fat and skin.

  • Full or extended panniculectomy: This procedure involves an incision from hip to hip (similar to the incision used in tummy tuck surgeries) and the removal of all the excess skin, fat, and tissue from the abdomen.
  • Limited or standard panniculectomy: This is a less-invasive procedure that involves only the removal of the excess skin. It does not involve the muscle tightening procedures that are typically done in a tummy tuck.

Procedure of Panniculectomy

  • The procedure is typically performed under general anesthesia.
  • Your doctor will make an incision along the lower abdomen from hip to hip.
  • The excess fat and skin are then carefully removed. Any remaining fat may be contoured and sculpted.
  • The remaining skin is then pulled taut and sutured into place.
  • The incision is then closed with sutures or Staples.

Risks of Panniculectomy

As with any surgery, there are risks associated with panniculectomy. These may include: bleeding, infection, reaction to anesthesia, blood clots, nerve damage, wound healing complications, changes in sensation, scarring, and recurrence of the excess fat and skin. Your surgeon will discuss all possible risks with you prior to the procedure.

Benefits of Panniculectomy

The primary benefit of panniculectomy is improved body image. Many individuals who have experienced massive weight loss report an improved self-esteem and body image after having the procedure. Furthermore, it can help reduce skin rashes and infections that can occur due to the excess skin.