Panniculectomy

Post weight loss surgery

Panniculectomy is a type of cosmetic surgery that focuses on removing the loose or hanging skin that results from massive weight loss. This procedure can also be called a lower body lift, central body lift, torsoplasty, belt lipectomy or circumferential panniculectomy. Whereas abdominoplasty tightens muscle while removing excess fat and skin, panniculectomy only deals with the excess skin and fat tissues; however, a combination panniculectomy and abdominoplasty procedure is available to patients in need of both treatments.

Cost of Panniculectomy

The average cost of panniculectomy surgery ranges from $8,500 to $10,000. These costs include the surgeon's fees along with facility and anesthesia fees. Most insurance policies won't cover this procedure if it is sought purely for cosmetic reasons; however, if it is related to excessive weight loss, some or all of the cost of the surgery may be covered. Your surgeon will be able to determine whether your procedure qualifies for insurance coverage. Some hospitals may offer cosmetic surgery financing or payment plans for those forced to pay out-of-pocket.

Patient Evaluation

Most candidates for the panniculectomy procedure have experienced rapid weight loss as a result of weight loss surgery, or have an abnormal amount of fat around the lower abdomen following a pregnancy. Prime candidates may have fat and loose skin hanging to the knees, around the back and over the hips, causing numerous health and cosmetic issues, including skin rashes, ulcers and back problems. As a result of these issues, activities such as walking, standing and even sitting may cause discomfort.

The Panniculectomy Procedure

A cut is made from the lower sternum to the pubic bone, followed by a horizontal incision across the pubic area. The extra fat and skin will be gently removed from the second incision point, and the remaining skin will be gathered and closed. Surgery may last for several hours, during which time the patient is under general anesthesia and unconscious. You'll be required to stay at the hospital for anywhere from one day to a full week, depending on the amount of skin removed and your body's ability to recover from the operation. A combination panniculectomy and abdominoplasty procedure will be recommended if another abdominal procedure, like a hernia repair operation, is required.

Panniculectomy Risks

The potential risks of panniculectomy surgery include:

  • Excessive blood loss
  • Infection
  • Fluid accumulation under the skin (seroma formation)
  • Wound separation
  • Deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolus
  • Scarring

There may be other risks as well, including complications from prolonged exposure to the general anesthetic. This can occur when the operation takes longer than planned.

Recovering from the Operation

Recovery time from a panniculectomy operation depends on how extensive the surgery was. Most patients are able to return to non-strenuous work within two to four weeks. Patients may also be limited from driving and other routine activities from one to three weeks following surgery. Some personal home care may be required if drains were inserted during the procedure. Allow a few months for the body to fully heal and for the benefits of the surgery to become completely apparent. The healing process is greatly improved by following your doctor's care instructions; eating a balanced, nutritious diet and getting regular exercise will also help.

Alternative Procedures

There are some cosmetic alternatives for panniculectomies, including tummy tucks and liposuction. Both of these procedures firm up skin and muscle tissue while removing fat. You can also choose to get an abdominoplasty, if you require more extensive repairs to the abdomen. All of these alternatives are invasive surgical procedures that require careful consideration and research. Consult your doctor to see which procedure is most likely to produce the desired results.