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What is Pannus Stomach or Apron Belly & How to Reduce It?

What is Pannus Stomach?

A pannus stomach occurs when a fold of skin or excess fat hangs down from the abdomen. This fold of skin resembles an apron, therefore is also known as an apron belly. Pannus stomach sometimes occurs after pregnancy or weight changes. The excess tissue from the previous body shape hangs down and can vary in length or size. It can lead to emotional distress and can make a person uncomfortable.

Causes of Pannus Stomach

The causes of pannus stomach include:

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  • Pregnancy: After giving birth to a baby, the extra skin that was required to accommodate pregnancy hangs down. It is also known as the mother’s apron.
  • Obesity: It can lead to the hanging down of the fat deposits from the stomach. Obesity can cause a large abdominal pannus.
  • Weight loss:  If a person loses weight rapidly, the excess of skin hangs down from the stomach.

How to Ease the Discomfort of Pannus Stomach?

Pannus stomach can be uncomfortable and limit a person’s ability to move. A few options that can be helpful to a person to ease the discomfort include:

  • Support Band: It helps to place the pannus high on the body making it easier for a person to walk. It can also be helpful in reducing back pain.
  • Cleanliness: Pannus stomach has a tendency to form ulcers and infections. It is therefore important to keep the area dry and prevent it from getting wet.
  • Moisturize: Pannus stomach can rub against the skin of other parts of the body, leading to chafing. Creams can be helpful in preventing discomfort due to friction.

There can also be infection due to the rubbing of the skin, which is known as intertrigo. There can be a growth of Candida or other organisms. In such cases, baby powder or antifungal powder can be helpful.

Complications of Pannus Stomach

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Pannus stomach can make it difficult for a person to walk, perform daily activities, or exercise, limiting the ability to lose weight.

If the area around the pannus stomach is not cleaned properly, the infection can develop.

Sometimes pannus stomach can get swollen and develop into an ulcer, which can be disabling for a few.

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If pannus stomach is due to obesity, there can be other related risks and complications. People with obesity have a risk of health conditions including type 2 diabetes mellitus, heart disease and stroke.(1)

How to Reduce a Pannus Stomach?

Exercise and diet can be helpful in reducing pannus stomach. However, surgery can be an option, if there is large abdominal pannus.

The surgery to remove a pannus is termed panniculectomy.(2) It helps in removing excess skin and fat deposits. It can be combined with a tummy tuck that helps in tightening the abdominal muscles and remove excess skin flap.

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Even after surgery, the doctor may recommend lifestyle changes, including eating a well-balanced and nutritious diet and exercising regularly. It helps in better recovery and prevents the recurrence of the pannus stomach.

What Happens in Panniculectomy?

Before going ahead with the panniculectomy procedure, the doctor discusses the medical history of the patient. If anyone is taking smoke or using tobacco, they need to stop it a week before surgery. The risk and complications of the procedures are discussed with the patient, which includes:

  • Fluid build-up in the body
  • Skin infection
  • Hematoma

During the procedure, general anesthesia is given. A cut is made in the lower part of the stomach, above the pubic area. Excess fat and skin are removed before the stitching is made. Drainage tubes are inserted into the abdomen to drain the excess fluid. The wound is dressed using bandages and compression garments. A person needs to wear the tubes and compression garment until enough fluid is drained and they are removed thereafter.

The person needs to stay in the hospital for a few days.

Lifestyle Changes

One can get rid of mild cases of pannus with exercise and diet.  This can be helpful in reducing fat throughout the body.

Diet also plays a major role as exercise alone is not enough to help a person reduce weight.(3)

Pannus stomach occurs due to rapid weight loss or can also follow pregnancy. Steps can be taken to reduce the discomfort with supportive bands. The side of the pannus can be reduced with diet, exercise, and surgery. For proper treatment, it is important to take advice and get treated by an expert.

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