Achieving significant weight loss can be incredibly rewarding and motivating, but this drastic change can leave behind a great deal of loose skin and fat that hides the results and interferes with daily activities. A panniculectomy can improve posture, reduce the risk of skin infections, and boost confidence.
What is a Panniculectomy?
It is a surgical procedure to remove excess skin and fat that hangs over the lower abdomen following major weight loss. This apron of skin is called a pannus. Surgery in this area reduces skin folds that can contribute to rashes, chafing, boils, and other infections and that can interfere with walking, standing, sitting, or bending.
Common Reasons to Undergo Panniculectomy Surgery
Panniculectomy surgery is often recommended when loose skin causes physical or medical concerns and interferes with quality of life. Motivating factors may include:
- Low-hanging skin keeps you from walking or moving comfortably.
- Weight of excess skin affects your posture or puts strain on your back.
- You experience persistent chafing, rashes, or ulcers between skin folds.
- You have reached a stable weight and are ready to shed the extra skin and fatty tissue.
- Overhanging skin makes it hard to find clothing that fits properly.
What Panniculectomy Surgery Will Not Do
Panniculectomy surgery is not the same as a tummy tuck. Whereas a tummy tuck is a cosmetic procedure that removes excess skin while also tightening the abdominal muscles, a panniculectomy does not. It is a medical procedure designed to alleviate discomfort and health concerns due to a large pannus.
Surgery is not:
- A weight loss solution, though you may naturally lose some weight from the removal of the loose skin and fatty tissue.
- A way to get tighter abdominal muscles. The procedure focuses on tightening the skin.
- A remedy for stretch marks. Some stretch marks may be removed if they are within the area being treated.
- A permanent fix. If you continue to lose weight, you may develop additional loose skin, and if you gain weight, the skin can stretch back out. Maintaining a stable weight can support prolonged results.
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Who is an Ideal Candidate for Surgery?
Before undergoing surgery, you should be at a relatively stable weight. If you are planning on losing more than a few pounds, you may want to wait until you reach your target weight so that you can maximize the outcome. Other factors to consider include:
- You are a nonsmoker or are open to quitting. Smoking can interfere with circulation and wound healing following surgery.
- You are in overall good health, and any chronic conditions are well managed.
- You are not happy with how your abdomen looks following weight loss.
- You have realistic expectations regarding results.
- You have a Body Mass Index (BMI) that is an acceptable range (≤ 30 is ideal).
What to Expect From the Recovery Process
Panniculectomy surgery can take several hours to perform, depending on the extensiveness of the skin removal. After your surgery, you may be able to go home the same day or you might stay overnight following surgery to monitor your recovery and manage initial pain.
Dr. Hopkins will apply an elastic bandage or compression garment around your midsection to provide additional support, reduce swelling, and promote improved circulation. There may also be a few small drains in place to prevent a buildup of fluid under the skin. These are only temporary and will be removed after one to two weeks.
You will be sore for several days as the incisions heal and swelling and bruising begin to subside. Give yourself plenty of time to rest and relax, avoiding any activities that put pressure on your abdomen. Do not be afraid to ask for and accept help from others during your recovery. It is normal for it to take two weeks until you can comfortably stand straight.
Keep in mind that while you will see some immediate results, it can take several months for swelling to fully resolve and your slimmer physique to become noticeable. Your body will also take some time to adjust to these changes. Proper incision care can help scars slowly fade and become less visible.
Refine Your Appearance Following Major Weight Loss with a Panniculectomy
You have worked hard to lose weight, and your appearance should reflect that. Get rid of the excess skin that is weighing you down and causing discomfort. You do not have to struggle with constant chafing or rashes due to rubbing or moisture between folds of loose skin. Schedule a consultation today to learn more about how Dr. Hopkins can help you improve your comfort, appearance, and quality of life with panniculectomy surgery.
Contact J. Hopkins Plastic Surgery in Dallas for a consultation at (972) 298-6641.
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