A panniculectomy is typically indicated in persons after massive weight loss to help remove excess fat and skin. The surgery may be performed by itself, or in combination with abdominoplasty (tummy tuck), depending on the patient's condition and amount of hanging skin. Unlike the abdominoplasty, in which the muscles are tightened during surgery, a panniculectomy only removes extra skin and fat. A panniculectomy may also be performed with other abdominal surgeries, or a hysterectomy. The majority of panniculectomy candidates suffer from obesity, or have recently experienced a significant weight loss.
Some women experience post-pregnancy concerns with excess fat localized below the belly button. Other candidates may have extra skin and fat extending over the hips, around the mid-section and down the knees. Such conditions can result in a variety of health problems, including rashes, back pain, ulcers and skin disorders. During the procedure, an incision is made from the lower sternum down to the pubic bone. An additional incision is made near the pubic area so the excess fat and skin can be carefully removed. The remaining skin is then pulled together and closed with sutures. Your doctor may insert drains that will require additional home care. A panniculectomy is most often performed in a hospital, although some plastic surgeons offer the procedure in an outpatient surgery center. The surgery, which may last several hours, is performed under general anesthesia and requires a hospital stay of anywhere from one to seven days.