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Panniculectomy

What is a Panniculectomy?

A pannus refers to excess skin and fat that hangs over the lower abdomen and pubis. This excess tissue can create difficulties with hygiene in the area. It can also interfere with wearing certain clothing styles, and with ambulation. A panniculectomy is a procedure designed to remove the excess skin and fat that is causing these difficulties.

Who is a candidate for Panniculectomy?

You may want to consider a panniculectomy if you have:

  • Excess skin and fat that hangs over your lower abdomen and pubis and interferes with hygiene or mobilization
  • Chronic or recurrent rashes in the area under your pannus
  • History of massive weight loss resulting in loose and redundant skin that is not amenable to diet or exercise
  • A panniculectomy is not the same as an abdominoplasty. A panniculectomy is not designed to contour the abdomen and the belly button is not relocated. The purpose of a panniculectomy is to remove problematic skin and fat of the lower abdomen. As a result, hygiene, mobilization, and function are improved.

How is a Panniculectomy Performed?

The incision for a panniculectomy runs horizontally across the lower abdomen from hipbone to hipbone. The excess skin and fat that is causing problems is excised and the incision is closed. The belly button (umbilicus) is not relocated. Drains will be placed prior to closure to assist with fluid collection.

Risks

All surgery is associated with risks. The risks associated with a panniculectomy typically relate to wound healing problems and fluid collections (seromas). Additional complications include bleeding, infection, and scarring. It is important to talk with Dr. Rovelo about the risks of your surgery and how the risks can be minimized to provide the best possible outcome.

Recovery

A panniculectomy is performed in the outpatient surgical setting, under general anesthesia. The surgery takes 1-2 hours to perform. If a patient has significant medical problems, it will be recommended that the patient stay overnight at an aftercare facility. Patients will be seen in clinic several days after surgery, and again at one week. Drains will be removed when the output decreases sufficiently. Most patients can return to light activity and work after 2 weeks. Heavy lifting and strenuous activity may be resumed after 6 weeks. An abdominal binder will need to be worn continuously for the first 2 weeks. After two weeks, the binder may be removed at night, although full-time use is preferable. The binder may be discontinued after 6 weeks.