Panniculectomy in ShreveportA panniculectomy is a surgical procedure to remove excess skin and tissue from the lower abdomen. Sometimes this excess skin is called an “apron”. Unlike a tummy tuck, a panniculectomy is not a cosmetic procedure. It does not tighten the abdominal muscles. Despite this, it can make your abdominal area flatter. Your surgical team can also perform a panniculectomy alongside a tummy tuck or other abdominal procedures. In this post, our plastic surgery experts at the Plastic Surgery Center will detail the panniculectomy procedure, as well as its benefits and potential risks. Dr. Wall will also answer all your questions about recovering from a panniculectomy.
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What Are Some Common Reasons to Undergo A Panniculectomy?
A panniculectomy may be beneficial for anyone with extra fat or tissue in their lower abdomen area.
There are many reasons why an individual may develop this excess skin and fat. The most common causes are:
- Prior surgery
- Massive weight loss
Who is a Good Candidate For A Panniculectomy?
If you have weight loss surgery, or if you lose a significant amount of weight through diet and exercise, you may have a lot of excess skin around your abdomen. This loose tissue can cause skin rashes, irritation, as well as an unpleasant odor.
You may be a candidate for a panniculectomy if:
- Excess abdominal fat causes health issues such as back pain, skin rashes, or ulcers
- You don’t smoke
- You are in good health
- Your weight has been stable for between six and twelve months
- You have realistic expectations from the surgery
- You maintain a healthy diet
- You are physically active
Many of these requirements are in place to ensure that you can make a healthy recovery after surgery. When you are considering a panniculectomy, it’s also important that your weight is not still fluctuating.
How Do I Prepare For A Panniculectomy?
There are a few steps involved in preparing for a panniculectomy. During the process, Dr. Wall may ask you to:
- Get lab testing or a medical evaluation
- Take certain medications or adjust your current medications
- Stop smoking
- Avoid taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs, and herbal supplements as they can increase bleeding.
What is the Panniculectomy Procedure Like?
A panniculectomy is an invasive surgical procedure that can last up to five hours. During the surgery, an anesthesiologist will place you under the influence of general anesthesia.
Dr. Wall will make two incisions:
- A horizontal cut from one hipbone to the other
- In some cases, a vertical cut extending to the pubic bone
The length of the cut will depend on how much skin Dr. Wall plans to remove. He will remove the excess skin and fat through these incisions. Your surgical team will then stitch the remaining skin and tissue together. They will apply tape to your incision areas. Drains may also be necessary to remove excess fluid.
In some cases, Dr. Wall may have to move or reposition your belly button. This will never happen suddenly in the middle of the procedure. Dr. Wall will always advise you of this during your consultation.
What is the Panniculectomy Recovery Like?
In many cases, a panniculectomy is an outpatient surgery. At most, you might need to stay overnight for observation and proper healing.
You will need someone to drive you home after the surgery, and you may need some help with everyday tasks in the days that follow. You should not do any heavy lifting or strenuous activities for a few weeks following your procedure.
You can expect pain and discomfort around your incision sites. Dr. Wall will remove your superficial stitches within a week, while your deeper sutures will dissolve on their own. It will probably take a few months for complete recovery. You will need to attend several follow-up appointments with Dr. Wall to ensure lasting results and safe healing.
Patients who undergo panniculectomies generally report being pleased with the results. They usually experience a loss of 5 to 10 pounds. They also experience improvement in their physical activity and personal hygiene.
What Are the Drawbacks of a Panniculectomy?
A panniculectomy is not a substitute for weight loss. It also is not a substitute for an appropriate exercise program.
Even though the results of a panniculectomy are permanent, fluctuating weight can greatly diminish its positive outcomes. This is why it’s important that your weight is stable for a significant amount of time before you undergo a panniculectomy.
A panniculectomy cannot correct stretch marks. But if your stretch marks are in an area where your surgeon plans to remove excess skin, there may be some improvement.
What are the Complications Associated With a Panniculectomy?
There are potential side effects associated with any surgery. A panniculectomy is so different. Some of the risks of a panniculectomy are:
- Bleeding at wound sites
- Persistent pain
- Fluid accumulation
- Blood clotting
- Nerve damage
Many of the more serious side effects are particularly rare. Most patients do not experience anything so serious as nerve damage.
You should seek immediate medical attention if you begin to experience any irregular symptoms.
How Much Does A Panniculectomy Cost?
The cost of a panniculectomy will vary depending on where you are and the surgeon you choose.
Because insurance companies do not consider a panniculectomy a cosmetic procedure, it is possible they will cover some or all of your costs. This is especially true if the excess skin and fat are causing rashes or skin irritation.
Panniculectomy costs may include:
- Surgeon’s fee
- Hospital or surgical facility costs
- Anesthesia fees
- Prescriptions for medication
- Post-surgery garments
- Medical tests and x-rays
Your surgeon’s experience definitely has some bearing on your costs. But remember that your surgeon’s skill level, and your comfort with them, is just as important as your final costs.
Contact the Plastic Surgery Center
Dr. Forrest Wall is a fellowship-trained and board-certified plastic surgeon. If you or someone you know is considering a panniculectomy in the Shreveport area, contact The Plastic Surgery Center by calling 318.221.1629. You can also leave us a message on our website.