You've worked very hard to lose weight, and you deserve to have the body you see in the mirror match your concept of your appearance after your weight-loss journey.

But what are the drawbacks to massive weight loss?

Sometimes, however, when a patient loses a massive amount of weight, he or she is left with large amounts of loose, sagging skin that can be unsightly, embarrassing, and can interfere with your daily activities.

The excess hanging skin and tissue is depressing and may leave you feeling that your hard work didn’t pay off as you expected. Rest assured, your journey was not in vain and the professionals at NYBG Plastic Surgery are here to help you get your body those last few steps toward the physique you envisioned.

Two common treatments following weight loss are a tummy tuck and panniculectomy. Are you wondering the differences between panniculectomy vs tummy tuck? Read on to find out more!

What is a Panniculectomy?

You might be wondering, what is a panniculectomy? Well, the pannus is an apron of skin that hangs down over the stomach, legs, and genitals following a massive weight loss. A panniculectomy is a body contouring procedure that seeks to remove this loose, sagging skin from the abdomen and surrounding regions. It may be performed on its own as a procedure or can be combined with a tummy tuck.

Many patients seeking a panniculectomy have experienced massive weight loss, often following bariatric surgery for obesity, or have had serious complications during a pregnancy that have caused the skin to be unable to return to its original shape and elasticity. The pannus may extend as low as a patient's knees, interfering with the ability to perform routine everyday activities. It can also cause myriad health issues such as back problems, skin rashes, ulcers, or other skin disorders. Additionally, it can interfere with everyday tasks such as walking, sitting, standing, or driving.

Panniculectomy for Body Contouring

A panniculectomy should be performed by a board-certified plastic surgeon who has experience in this surgical body contouring procedure. The surgery is usually performed under general anesthesia and may require several hours to complete. You may be required to stay in the hospital following surgery.

In a panniculectomy, an incision is made just under the sternum and extends down to the pubic bone. Another incision is made horizontally along the pubic bone, allowing your surgeon to remove excess skin and fat from the desired area. The skin that is left is then pulled taut and sutured together to provide a more contoured, slender appearance. Frequently the procedure will require that your surgeon craft a new belly button to create a natural look for the abdomen.

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What can I expect with recovery from a panniculectomy?

While you remain in the hospital, drains will be inserted into your incisions allowing excess fluid from the surgery to drain off of your body. Once you have been released from the hospital, it is important that you rest as much as possible to allow your body to heal from surgery. Pain, bruising, and swelling are completely normal with a panniculectomy, and may be managed with the help of prescription pain medication prescribed by our board-certified plastic surgeon.

Bathing After Body Contouring with Panniculectomy Surgery

You will only be permitted sponge baths during the first few days following your panniculectomy. It is crucial that you limit your physical activity during recovery and refrain from exercise, lifting anything in excess of 10 pounds, and any activity that would require you to put any amount of pressure on the abdominal region. Most patients will need to wear a compression garment in the first weeks following surgery to reduce swelling and promote healing. Light physical activities may be resumed approximately six weeks following surgery. Your surgeon will let you know when your body is ready for any more vigorous physical activity.

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Panniculectomy vs. Tummy Tuck

A panniculectomy and abdominoplasty are often confused. This is understandable since both procedures cover essentially the same area of the anatomy. The biggest difference is the goal of the surgical procedure. A tummy tuck tightens the abdominal muscles and removes excess fat, skin, and tissue, while a panniculectomy is performed to remove a pannus.

The pannus is a large flap of skin which is distended over the abdomen, genitals, and thighs following significant weight loss or complications from childbirth. A panniculectomy solely addresses the issue of loose, sagging skin and excess fat of the pannus. It also addresses mobility issues for those who live with this condition and ends the uncomfortable rubbing and chafing which can lead to infection.

Abdominoplasty or Tummy Tuck

Abdominoplasty, commonly known as a tummy tuck, takes this one step further by repairing layers of the abdominal muscle structure which may have loosened, stretched, or split. With a tummy tuck, patients may further contour the body to achieve a sleek, slender figure. This surgery is more extensive than that of a panniculectomy, as it addresses the muscles to create a trimmer, more toned appearance to the contours of the abdomen.

Health Insurance and Panniculectomy

Since a panniculectomy is a functional procedure and not strictly cosmetic like a tummy tuck, it is often covered by health insurance providers.

A tummy tuck is largely considered to be a strictly cosmetic procedure and is therefore not covered by most health insurance plans. While both procedures revolve around the removal of excess skin and fat from the abdominal region, a tummy tuck often involves additional procedures including removal of excess skin and fat all the way to the bottom ribs, repair and tightening of the rectus abdominis muscle, creation of a new naval, and liposuction is often performed on the belly area and flanks to provide additional contouring benefits.

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Risks and Benefits

As with any surgical procedure, there are risks associated with both a panniculectomy and a tummy tuck. These include infection, the formation of scars, and bodily fluids collecting near the incision. It is important to thoroughly discuss with your surgeon your vision and goals of any cosmetic surgical procedure. With thorough communication, we are confident that the team at NYBG Plastic Surgery can help you find your path to better health and a positive body image.

Our team provides the highest level of patient care and adheres to the most rigorous and extensive patient safety and health protocols. If you are living with unsightly, uncomfortable hanging skin and want to experience freedom from the condition, we invite you to meet with us in a private consultation to discuss the surgical procedure to correct the condition and help you have a trimmer, more attractive body. You can also learn more about our Long Island tummy tuck surgery here.

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