Panniculectomy surgery involves the excision of the large apron of abdominal skin and fat, called the pannus. Primarily composed of fat tissue and skin, a pannus results from significant weight loss such as after bariatric surgery, and sometimes after pregnancy.
Each plastic surgeon has their own decisive factor in determining the requirements for an abdominal panniculectomy. It is usually recommended that you wait at least one full year after weight loss surgery, and your weight loss has been stable for at least six months. By doing this, you are giving your body a chance to stabilize, reducing your blood pressure, stress on your heart, and your blood sugar if you are diabetic. Pannus removal should take place only when your body is prepared.
A large pannus can cause many medical problems, including decreased mobility, knee and back pain as well as skin infection in the lower abdomen. This is extremely detrimental to the integumentry system. Due to moisture created by skin lying on skin, rashes and painful skin ulcers may develop, causing excoriation and breakdown of skin on the underside of the pannus. This makes pannus removal not only a cosmetic procedure, but a medically necessary one as well.
Panniculectomy surgery is performed by removing the excess skin and fat under general anesthesia. The procedure is usually performed on an outpatient basis, and may take 2 to 4 hours. Recovery takes about one week before one can go back to light duty; but no heavy lifting, no exercising, and no driving, particularly if you are taking pain medications. Your plastic surgeon will give you a detailed list of when you will be able to resume your normal daily activities. It is imperative that you follow your surgeon’s instructions meticulously following abdominal panniculectomy, as this will assure the best possible outcome, and you will be able to enjoy your newly contoured body without problems.