Panniculectomy: Cost, Risks, Recovery


Panniculectomy is a surgery that removes the excess skin and tissue around the lower abdomen. Most people who have taken gastric bypass surgery to lose their weight will have excess abdominal skin that hangs and forms an “apron”, along with other challenges in life. Therefore, a panniculectomy can solve these problems, provide relief to patients, and boost their self-confidence.

A panniculectomy is most likely to be covered by insurance because it is a medical procedure, whereas a tummy tuck is often considered as a cosmetic one. Despite their difference, a panniculectomy can be combined with a tummy tuck. Then, plastic surgeons may combine these two procedures to achieve two purposes together—skin removal and the tightening of the underlying abdominal muscles and tissues.


People may be left with excess skin and loose tissue around the abdomen which can cause skin rashes and irritation as well as odor from moisture after losing a large amount of weight from exercise or surgery.

Those who have the following conditions may be the ideal canditates for panniculectomy:

  • Excess abdominal fat has caused pain like back pain, skin rashes or ulcers
  • Don’t smoke
  • Be in good health
  • Weight has been stable for at least 6 months to one year
  • Be physically active
  • Have realistic expectations toward surgery


The cost of a panniculectomy varies depending on different factors. For example:

  • the extent of the procedure
  • the amount of skin removed
  • the geographic location of the hospital
  • the proficiency and experience of responsible surgeons

On average, patients are expected to pay an amount of money ranging from $8,000 to $15,000 covering anesthesia, surgeon and facility fees in the U.S. It’s lucky that your insurance provider may help pay for the procedure for panniculectomy is not typically seen as a cosmetic surgery. But certain criteria must be met and panniculectomy is a mediacal necessity for you. You still need to contact your health insurance provider to discuss the payment options to make the best decisions.


Like any other plastic surgery, panniculectomy will also lead to some complications and risks. Some of these risks include:

  • Bleeding at wound sites
  • Skin discoloration and/or prolonged swelling
  • Unfavorable scarring
  • Persistent pain
  • Poor healing of incisions
  • Infection
  • Fluid accumulation
  • Blood clotting
  • Nerve damage
  • Hematoma
  • Anesthesia risks
  • Fluid accumulation
  • Skin loss
  • Numbness or other changes in skin sensation
  • Fatty tissue found deep in the skin might die
  • Deep vein thrombosis, cardiac and pulmonary complications
  • Asymmetry
  • Possibility of revisional surgery
  • Persistent pain


Prior to a panniculectomy, it will be better for you to make full preparations. Here are some suggestions:

  • Stop smoking at least two weeks before the surgery
  • Avoid taking any aspirin or anti-inflammatory medications
  • Find an adult to accompany you for the first 24 – 72 hours after surgery
  • Stock up necessary medications, helpful recovery food, such as jell-o, pudding, and soup, and essential meals at least for 2 weeks
  • Use icepacks to reduce post-operative swelling
  • Purchase a “drain apron” which will help support the drains
  • Wear something comfortable and loose fitting a day ahead of the surgery
  • Adhere to your surgeon’s directions

Surgical steps

Panniculectomy is the same as other cosmetic procedures. Commonly, it requires three steps to complete this surgery:

  • Anesthesia

First, depending on your situation, either intravenous sedation or general anesthesia will be administered for your comfort during the surgery.

  • Making the incisions

Next, your surgeon will make two incisions: a horizontal cut between the pubic hairline and belly button, or a vertical cut extending to the pubic bone. Once the incisions have been made, excess skin and tissue will be removed. The remaining skin and tissues are then pulled together and closed with stitches, and the incision areas are taped. In some cases, the belly button may be removed or repositioned.

  • Closing the incisions

At last, your surgeon may close the skin incisions with materials like sutures, skin adhesives, tapes or clips.


After the surgery, you may be required to stay at least one night in the hospital for better recovery. When you return home, remember to restrict movement, especially heavy lifting or exercise that take a lot of efforts.

During the initial recovery phase, you may experience some side effects of panniculectomy like swelling, bruising, and discomfort. Wearing an elastic compression garment will help to heal your injured tissues.

Complete recovery will take several months, but you may come back to work normally within three weeks of the surgery. You will be pleased to see your weight loss and other physical changes.

Keywords: panniculectomy.

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* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.