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Medically Reviewed by Dr. J. Hopkins


March 6, 2023

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A panniculectomy is a surgical procedure that can remove fat and overhanging skin from your abdomen. After losing a large amount of weight, this can be a procedure that enhances how you look and feel. Here are some frequently asked questions to consider when deciding if this is a good option for you.

Can You Get a Panniculectomy Without Weight Loss?

A panniculectomy is best suited for people who have lost a significant amount of weight and have excess skin because of that weight loss. It is a procedure that is most effective for those with a body mass index of 30 or lower and who have stabilized their weight.

There are instances when it may be medically necessary for you to get a panniculectomy that may not require you to lose any weight.

How Much Do You Have to Weigh to Get a Panniculectomy?

Although there is no set weight that you have to be to get a panniculectomy, having a body mass index of 30 or lower will reduce your risks of developing a complication after surgery. It is important to note that losing as much weight as possible before the surgery is essential to avoid further sagging skin.

If you continue to lose weight after a panniculectomy, you may see signs of excess skin again, so being close to your ideal weight before the surgery is important. For most people, being between 10 and 15 pounds away from your goal can help.

How Much Fat Can Be Removed with Panniculectomy?

The surgery can remove the excess fat that hangs over your genitals and thighs. Exactly how much fat you can safely remove will depend on your health and circumstances. A consultation will allow you to share what your goals are and allow you to see what limits there are for the procedure.

What Qualifies You for a Panniculectomy?

People who have lost a significant amount of weight and who subsequently have excess skin and fat that interferes with their appearance, movement, and comfort are excellent candidates for a panniculectomy.

You must also be a non-smoker or be willing to stop if you are and be in good overall health. Any medical conditions need to be under control for you to be able to undergo surgery. You must also have realistic expectations of the results and have a body mass index in an acceptable range. A body mass index higher than 30 can put you at risk of complications during and after surgery.

Keep in mind that a panniculectomy is not a weight loss procedure, and it cannot tighten abdominal muscles. It also cannot get rid of all stretch marks, though it may be able to remove some of them in the abdominal area.

If you are unsure of whether you qualify for the procedure, going to a consultation is vital.

When Is Panniculectomy Medically Necessary?

A panniculectomy is medically necessary for people who meet a few criteria.

You must have a panniculus that overhangs the pubis and present evidence of having chronic rashes, ulcers, cellulitis, or infections for at least three months that do not respond to traditional treatment options. Additional criteria are documented evidence of having difficulty walking or doing everyday tasks.

If symptoms or physical difficulties continue after a large amount of weight loss that has remained stable for six months or if you have documents proving you tried to lose weight without success, you might also qualify for a panniculectomy. In the instance of having had bariatric surgery, you have waited at least 18 months since the procedure and are at a stable weight.

If you need to have a procedure and the surgeon requires visibility and access to the site that excess skin and fat do not allow, a panniculectomy can be medically necessary.

Does Insurance Cover a Panniculectomy?

A panniculectomy can receive coverage from an insurance company in many instances. To qualify, most insurance companies will require that you present documentation on the weight loss surgeries you may have had, the impacts on your health of not getting a panniculectomy, and evidence of any injuries, skin irritation, ulcers, or anything else that the excess skin and fat cause.

You will usually need to provide photos showing how the excess fat and skin affect your body and life.

Trust J. Hopkins Plastic Surgery with Your Panniculectomy

Undergoing a surgical procedure can be stressful, but you can make it easier on yourself by turning to professionals. At J. Hopkins Plastic Surgery, you can trust that your surgeons will offer the guidance you need as you consider a panniculectomy.

If you want to get rid of excess skin and fat in your abdominal area, learn more about what a panniculectomy can offer.