Sometimes it happens that no matter how much you try, it becomes impossible to lose weight. When exercise and diet fail to help you achieve your desired weight, then there are many surgical procedures that can come to your rescue and help you achieve a flat and well-toned abdomen. Panniculectomies and tummy tucks are two of the most common procedures that are used for getting rid of excessive skin present around the lower abdomen, after losing weight. A tummy tuck is more of an elective procedure done for cosmetic reasons; a panniculectomy is performed as a medical necessity once a significant amount of weight has been lost. We take a look at both these procedures and company a panniculectomy versus a tummy tuck.
Panniculectomy Vs Tummy Tuck: Overview
Tummy tuck or abdominoplasty and panniculectomy are two different types of surgical procedures that are focused on removing the excess skin on your lower belly. These two procedures are usually performed in cases where there is extreme weight loss from either surgical or natural causes.
The goal of a tunny tuck is to provide contouring effects for enhancing your waistline and muscles, while the goal of a panniculectomy is to remove any hanging skin. It is also possible to get both these procedures done at the same time.
Ultimately, both these procedures aim to remove any excess skin present on the stomach. However, there are some key differences between both these procedures in order to achieve the results you desire.(1)
Panniculectomy Vs Tummy Tuck: Goal of the Procedures
Both these surgical procedures target the skin of the lower belly. The goal is to get rid of any loose and hanging skin that usually accumulates after a person loses a lot of weight. This could be because of surgeries such as natural weight loss, gastric bypass, or even after pregnancy. Let us compare both these procedures.
A panniculectomy is a type of invasive surgical procedure, and it is helpful for those who have recently undergone weight loss surgery, and after the surgery, they are left with a significant amount of loose and hanging skin on their lower belly.
A panniculectomy is usually considered to be a medical necessity when the hanging skin starts to affect your day to day life. For example, you might start to develop rashes, ulcers, and even infections under the area of the hanging skin.
During this procedure, the surgeon makes two cuts into your abdominal wall for removing the excess skin that is hanging in the middle. After this, the bottom part of the skin is reattached to the top of the stomach through suturing.
Tummy Tuck or Abdominoplasty
A tummy tuck is also an invasive surgical procedure that is done to remove excess skin from your lower belly. The main difference between these two procedures is that a tummy tuck is not a necessity. It is generally an elected procedure done for aesthetic reasons and is not required like a panniculectomy.
In some cases, a tummy tuck can also be done to help get relief from back pain and incontinence.
While performing a tummy tuck, the surgeon will start by cutting out the excess skin and at the same time, also tighten your abdominal muscles. While the surgery cannot give you six packs overnight, but it does make it easier for you to start building your abdominal muscles by yourself through rigorous exercising in the future.
Panniculectomy Vs Tummy Tuck: Time Taken for Each Procedure
Both of these procedures are time-consuming. You also need to consider the time that will be taken for pre-operative care and post-operative care. So arrive early at the hospital so that there is sufficient time to carry out all the required care. Also factor in the time you will need to stay back in the hospital for any post-operative care so that your doctor can monitor your recovery process.
Time Taken for a Panniculectomy
A surgeon takes around two to five hours for a surgeon to carry out a panniculectomy.(2) The exact time took also depends on the length of the incisions that have been made and also on the amount of excess skin that needs to be removed.
Time Taken for a Tummy Tuck
It can take anywhere between two to four hours for a surgeon to complete a tummy tuck.(3) Though cutting the skin is usually less extensive than it is with a panniculectomy, the surgeon still requires time for shaping the wall of the abdomen while doing a tummy tuck.
Panniculectomy Vs Tummy Tuck: Comparing the Outcome
Both tummy tuck and a panniculectomy have more or less the same success rates. The important thing to keep in mind is that you need to maintain a healthy lifestyle after any of these procedures if you want to achieve the best results.
The recovery process from a panniculectomy is usually slow, but the results of a panniculectomy are permanent. If you continue working hard to maintain your weight, then you will not need any more follow-up surgeries.
The results you achieve from a tummy tuck are also considered to be permanent, but only if you maintain your weight. In order to increase your chances of having long-term results from a tummy tuck, your doctor will recommend you to maintain or lose some weight before you undergo a tummy tuck.
Panniculectomy Vs Tummy Tuck: Who Is A Good Candidate For These Procedures?
It is possible for somebody to be a better fit for one procedure over the other. Both tummy tuck and panniculectomies are meant only for adults and for women who are not pregnant or breastfeeding. You should also be a non-smoker and should be at a stable body weight at the time of the surgery.
It is vital for you to remember that even though both the surgeries are done for targeting excess skin on the lower belly, but these cannot be considered as weight loss procedures.
Right Candidate for a Panniculectomy
You are considered to be a good candidate for a panniculectomy if you meet the following criteria:
- If you are experiencing some kind of hygiene issues or health issues from the excess skin hanging below your pubic area.
- You have recently lost a lot of weight, and due to that, there is a lot of loose belly skin hanging that you want to remove.
- If you are repeatedly getting infections, ulcers, and other health conditions under the hanging skin.
- If you have recently had gastric bypass or if you have undergone bariatric weight loss surgeries.
Right Candidate for a Tummy Tuck
You might be a good candidate for a tummy tuck if you meet the following criteria:
- If you are trying to remove the hanging belly from a pregnancy
- If you are having trouble getting rid of some excess skin around the stomach in spite of dieting and exercising and following all the recommendations to lose weight
- If you are at a healthy weight and in overall good health
- If you have already discussed your options with your surgeon and your surgeon has decided to perform a tummy tuck over a panniculectomy
Panniculectomy Vs Tummy Tuck: Comparing the Costs
There is a lot of variation between the cost of a tummy tuck and a panniculectomy, especially if you consider insurance coverage. Here are some estimated costs.
You will need to check in with your surgeon for getting a breakdown of all the costs involved before you go in for the finalized procedure. Some facilities are also known to have a payment plan in place.
A panniculectomy is known to be much more expensive. The procedure can range from anywhere between $8,000 to $15,000, and this might not even include the other associated costs of the surgery, such as hospital care and anesthesia.
Some insurance companies do cover a certain part of the surgery, especially if your doctor thinks that a panniculectomy is medically required. You need to call your insurance company beforehand to see how much of the cost they can cover or if they need you to work only with specified surgeons.
Another consideration is the cost you will incur while taking time off work. It might take up to eight weeks to completely recover from a panniculectomy.(4)
Tummy Tuck Costs
A tummy tuck is a much cheaper option as compared to the panniculectomy. However, a tummy tuck is not generally covered by your medical insurance. This means that you might end up spending almost $6,200 from your own pocket, as well as any additional medical service fees.(5)
Similar to a panniculectomy, you will need to take some time off school or work after having a tummy tuck surgery done. Since the surgery is not as extensive as a panniculectomy, you will need lesser time to recover, so lesser time off work.
The average time of recovery from a tummy tuck is around four to six weeks.(6) Depending on the incision size and incision number, your recovery time might be less or more.
Panniculectomy Vs Tummy Tuck: Comparing Side Effects
There are complications and side effects involved in any type of surgery. Both tummy tuck and a panniculectomy can cause you to experience some immediate discomfort and some other side effects. Some of these side effects are common, while others are rare and also require immediate medical attention.
It is common to feel pain during the first couple of days after surgery. Your skin might also feel numb, and this numbness can continue to last for a couple of weeks. The numbness occurs from the suturing of the two areas of skin after removal of the excess skin between them during the surgery.
Fluid retention is also another possible side effect that gets minimized when drains are inserted into the stomach following the surgery.
Furthermore, you are going to find it difficult to stand up straight for a week or so as the healing process continues.(7)
Here are some of the rare side effects of a panniculectomy that require you to seek emergency medical help:
Some of the immediate side effects of having a tummy tuck include:
You might also continue to feel the numbness and slight pain up to a couple of weeks after the surgery. Some of the rare, but serious, side effects of a tummy tuck include:
- Excessive bleeding
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Complications from anesthesia
Both panniculectomy and tummy tuck are invasive surgical procedures. A panniculectomy involves two large incisions, while a tummy tuck is a less extensive procedure. Panniculectomy is a highly expensive procedure while a tummy tuck costs half the price of a panniculectomy. Both procedures have permanent results, but you need to maintain a stable weight after the surgery.
Your surgeon will determine which procedure is the right one for you after looking at your condition. It is always best to do some research and find out the similarities and differences between the two procedures before deciding which one you want to opt for.
- Pratt, J.H. and Irons, G.B., 1978. Panniculectomy and abdominoplasty. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 132(2), pp.165-168.
- Uofmhealth.org. (2019). Panniculectomy | Michigan Medicine. [online] Available at: https://www.uofmhealth.org/conditions-treatments/surgery/plastic/cosmetic/body/panniculectomy [Accessed 6 Jul. 2019].
- Cleveland Clinic. (2019). [online] Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/cosmetic-plastic-surgery/procedures/tummy-tuck#expect-tab [Accessed 6 Jul. 2019].
- Med.umich.edu. (2019). [online] Available at: http://www.med.umich.edu/1libr/Surgery/PlasticSurgery/Panniculectomy-postop.pdf [Accessed 6 Jul. 2019].
- American Society of Plastic Surgeons. (2019). Tummy Tuck Cost. [online] Available at: https://www.plasticsurgery.org/cosmetic-procedures/tummy-tuck/cost [Accessed 6 Jul. 2019].
- nhs.uk. (2019). Cosmetic procedures – Tummy tuck (abdominoplasty). [online] Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cosmetic-procedures/tummy-tuck/ [Accessed 6 Jul. 2019].
- American Society of Plastic Surgeons. (2019). Panniculectomy Results. [online] Available at: https://www.plasticsurgery.org/reconstructive-procedures/panniculectomy/results [Accessed 6 Jul. 2019].