Panniculectomy: Am I a Candidate?

Young asian woman scales.

What is a panniculectomy?

A panniculectomy is when a pannus is surgically removed. A pannus is excess skin and adipose tissue, sometimes referred to as an apron that hangs down over ones genitals and/or thighs. This excess tissue can make it difficult to maintain good hygiene in the genital area. It can also make it difficult to walk and perform other physical activities. The difference between a panniculectomy and abdominoplasty is a panniculectomy only removes the apron of the skin. There is no undermining of tissue or lightening of old muscles.

Who is a good candidate for panniculectomy?

Candidates must be in good health, have no active diseases or serious, pre-existing medical conditions, and must have realistic expectations of the outcome of the surgery. If you plan to become pregnant or to lose a significant amount of weight, you should discuss these plans with your doctor before surgery. Panniculectomy is not a treatment for obesity or a substitute for proper diet and exercise.

NOTE: You may not be a candidate for surgery if you smoke, have recently quit smoking, or if you are exposed to second-hand smoke. Primary and secondary smoking decreases blood flow to the body’s tissues. This can result in prolonged wound healing, skin loss, infection, increased scarring, and a number of other complications depending on the kind of procedure performed.

How is the procedure performed?

Most commonly, the surgeon will make two incisions. The first is a long incision from hipbone to hipbone, just above the pubic area. A complete panniculectomy can take from two to five hours, depending on the extent of work required.

Planning for Your Surgery

First, schedule a personal consultation with your  surgeon. Communication is vital in reaching your goals. You will have the opportunity to discuss your goals and the results you’d like to achieve. Your surgeon will work with you to reach an understanding about what you can expect from this procedure and what long-term benefits you will experience. Every patient is different, and your surgeon will choose the surgical technique and treatment plan that is right for you. During your initial consultation.

Provide a complete medical history. Include information about any previous surgical procedures; past and present medical conditions; and all medications or herbal supplements you are taking.

Expect your surgeon to examine your abdomen, including the quality of your abdominal skin; the location of any existing scars; the amount and location of any excess fat; and the status of the underlying muscles.

Be prepared to discuss possible risks and complications of the procedure.

Preparing for Your Surgery

You will be given specific instructions on how to prepare for your surgery. A pre-operative information packet will be provided that explains everything you should do and know before your surgery date. Your surgeon will instruct you on how to prepare for surgery, including guidelines on eating and drinking, smoking, and which vitamins and medications should be taken or avoided. You should arrange for someone to drive you home after your surgery, whether your surgery is done on an outpatient or inpatient basis. You may also want to make arrangements for someone to help you out for a day or two after you leave the hospital.

Where Your Surgery Will be Performed

Your procedure will take place in either University Medical Center or Sunrise Hospital. The majority of these procedures are completed on an out-patient basis.

Types of Anesthesia

General anesthetic is used so that you will sleep and remain comfortable throughout the procedure.

After Your Surgery

It is very important that you follow your surgeon’s instructions. Recovery is a minimum of 6 – 8 weeks. No heavy lifting greater than 10 lbs during this time. The surgeon may leave 2 drains in place to help collect any fluids from under the skin. These drains my be in place  anywhere from  4 – 8  weeks after surgery ( this my vary per individual) This will promote healing and improve progress towards your new physical appearance. Also, it is important that you attend all scheduled follow-up appointments so that your surgeon can assess your long-term results and answer any questions or concerns you may have.