Panniculectomy Procedure Overview
he panniculectomy procedure is a type of post weight-loss surgery that deals with the often unsightly and massive fold (called a pannus) of excess skin that drapes over the abdomen, the groin, and sometimes, the upper thighs of individuals who have experienced dramatic weight loss. Panniculectomy surgery is not the same as abdominoplasty or a tummy tuck.
However, panniculectomy surgery is often combined with abdominoplasty, or a tummy tuck procedure, which does focus on tightening abdominal muscles, though abdominoplasty is only performed after the panniculectomy removes the pannus of excess fat and skin.
Who Benefits from Panniculectomy Surgery?
Any person who has undergone drastic weight-loss, through surgical or nonsurgical methods, often deals either with a pannus or massive flap of skin that is caused by the skin stretching. This skin has lost its ability to snap back into place, and literally just hangs there after weight loss. A pannus may cause a number of medical issues including skin breakdown, skin ulcers, and skin disorders, as well as problems with posture, depending on the weight and size of the pannus.
Ideal candidates for panniculectomy surgery are those who have maintained a stable weight for approximately one year. Individuals who have undergone certain bariatric procedures such as lap band or gastric bypass should also wait a minimum of one year before engaging in any body contouring procedure such as a panniculectomy.
Panniculectomy Surgery Procedure
The procedure takes approximately three hours, depending on the amount of skin and the mass of the pannus, as well as if other procedures are combined in the surgery. The patient is placed under general anesthesia, and a hospital stay from one day to one week may be required.
The surgery is started by incising along the vertical line of the abdomen from the lower end of the sternum or breastbone down to the pubic bone. A horizontal incision is then made between the hipbones near the pubic area. Excess fat and skin are removed through this incision. Remaining skin is then pulled together and closed with sutures or staples.
Following the surgery, individuals will be given post-op instructions that will reduce the risk of complications, as well as advise them what to watch out for during the recovery process. Some patients will be fitted with drains that will need to be emptied as per the doctor's instructions. Dressings may also need to be changed, again according to the doctor’s instructions.
How Much Does Panniculectomy Surgery Cost?
In the United States, the average cost of a panniculectomy procedure ranges between $8,500-$10,000, and these fees usually include anesthesia fees, facility fees, and surgeon’s fees. However, the cost may also differ depending on whether an abdominoplasty or any other type of cosmetic or body contouring procedure is done along with the panniculectomy surgery.
In some cases, insurance will cover the cost of a panniculectomy, if comorbidity or health-related factors are involved. For panniculectomy procedures done for cosmetic reasons alone, insurance doesn't typically cover the bill. Panniculectomy procedures, either coupled with an abdominoplasty or other procedures in India, offer reduced costs due to different healthcare delivery systems, and often save travelers between 30% and 50%, sometimes more, on the same procedures.
Who Performs Panniculectomy Surgery?
Panniculectomy surgery should be performed by a plastic surgeon who has been board certified for outpatient or hospital surgery. Patients should ensure that the surgeon of their choice is familiar and experienced with weight management procedures including bariatric procedures, laparoscopic surgery, and other forms of bariatric surgery. Surgeons should be registered with regional or national societies or boards of bariatric surgeons, plastic surgeons, or those who specialize in obesity and weight-related procedures.
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