Panniculectomy vs. Tummy Tuck–Do you know the difference between a panniculectomy and a tummy tuck?

Panniculectomy and tummy tuck are both surgical treatments aimed at removing excess lower belly skin. Both are options when a patient has lost a lot of weight from natural or surgical causes. 

While the goals of the two procedures are similar, there are some minor differences between them. It is important that you understand these minute differences so you can choose the procedure that is best for you. 

In this post, our plastic surgery experts at Cosmetica will explain the advantages and disadvantages of each procedure.

Before we get into comparing panniculectomies and tummy tucks, let’s talk about each one individually.

Panniculectomy vs Tummy Tuck

What is a Panniculectomy?

A panniculectomy is an invasive surgical procedure. The team at Cosmetica can perform a panniculectomy to remove excess hanging skin on the lower belly. 

Patients who undergo weight loss surgery and require significant skin removal benefit most from a panniculectomy. Especially if the remaining skin affects the patient’s quality of life. Some ways in which excess skin can affect your quality of life are:

  • Rashes 
  • Infections 
  • Ulcers underneath the hanging ara of skin

If a patient is dealing with any of these conditions, a panniculectomy might even be a medical necessity. 

During a panniculectomy, your Cosmetica surgeon will make two cuts in the abdominal wall, on either side of the excess skin. They will remove the skin in the middle. Your Cosmetica surgeon will then reattach the bottom flap of skin to the top via suturing.

We understand that once patients recover from weight loss surgery, the last thing they want to deal with is lingering excess skin. A panniculectomy is especially effective at removing this reminder of your pre-weight loss body.   

What is a Tummy Tuck?

A tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, is also a surgical procedure to remove excess skin. This surgery is usually elective rather than medically necessary. But there are some cases in which tummy tucks can relieve incontinence and back pain.

With a tummy tuck, your Cosmetica plastic surgeon will cut out excess skin while tightening abdominal muscles. 

While you can’t expect a set of six-pack abs post-surgery, a tummy tuck certainly makes it easier to build abdominal muscles on your own.  

Panniculectomy vs. Tummy Tuck

Now that we know a little bit about each procedure, let’s make some comparisons. 

How long does each procedure take?

These are not quick surgical procedures. They are both invasive and require pre-operative and post-operative care. 

It takes two to five hours for a surgeon to perform a panniculectomy. Your exact timeline will depend on the length of your incisions. The amount of skin your surgeon is removing will also have bearing on the length of your procedure. 

Alternatively, a tummy tuck takes between two and four hours to complete. The incisions may be less severe than a panniculectomy, but your Cosmetica surgeon will still be shaping your abdominal wall. 

Which procedure has better results-Panniculectomy vs Tummy Tuck?

Both procedures have similar success rates. The key to getting the most out of your procedure is to live a healthy lifestyle afterward, to maximize your results. 

With a panniculectomy, recovery can be slow. It may be as long as eight weeks before full recovery. But the results are permanent. If you maintain your weight, you won’t need any follow-up surgeries. 

The results of a tummy tuck are permanent as well, so long as you maintain your weight. To maximize your long-term results, your Cosmetica surgical team may recommend you lose or maintain a stable weight before the procedure. Full recovery from a tummy tuck usually takes about four to six weeks. 

Who is a good candidate?

Though these procedures are similar, one may be a better fit for you than the other. Both of these procedures are most effective for adults and for women who aren’t pregnant. It is also helpful if you don’t smoke and are at stable body weight. 

While both of these surgeries target excess lower belly skin, they are not weight-loss surgeries. 

Panniculectomy candidates 

You may be a good candidate for a panniculectomy if you:

  • Have recently lost a lot of weight and have loose belly skin
  • Are experiencing hygiene issues due to the excess skin 
  • Keep getting ulcers, infections, and other issues under the hanging skin 
  • Have recently undergone gastric bypass or bariatric weight loss surgery

Tummy Tuck candidates

A tummy tuck may be a good fit if you:

  • Are trying to get rid of “belly pooch” from a recent pregnancy 
  • Have trouble getting rid of excess skin despite diet and exercise 
  • Are in overall good health and are at a healthy weight 
  • Have spoken to your surgeon about the procedure 

Which surgery costs more: a Panniculectomy or a Tummy Tuck?

The costs of a panniculectomy or a tummy tuck can vary, especially when you throw in insurance coverage. But your Cosmetica surgical team can give you a specific breakdown of surgical prices, including anesthesia and hospital care. 

Cosmetica offers financing with CareCredit. You can discuss this with our surgeons in detail during your consultation. 

Technically, a panniculectomy is the more expensive of the two options. But it is possible that insurance will pay for a portion of your panniculectomy if it is a medical necessity. A tummy tuck is cheaper but will come completely out of pocket. Thus, the cost of each procedure ends up being roughly equal. 

Side Effects for Panniculectomy and Tummy Tuck

Both a panniculectomy and a tummy tuck have side effects. Some side effects are common while others are rarer and require medical attention. 

The side effects of a panniculectomy include:

  • Pain following surgery
  • Skin numbness 
  • Fluid retention. You can minimize this with drains in the stomach following surgery

Some of the rarer side effects are:

  • Infection
  • Heart palpitations 
  • Excessive bleeding 
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath

If you experience any of these side effects after a panniculectomy, you should seek medical attention.

Possible side effects of a tummy tuck are:

  • Pain
  • Bruising 
  • Numbness 

Rare but more serious side effects include:

  • Infection 
  • Excessive bleeding 
  • Anesthesia complications 
  • Deep vein thrombosis 

Contact Cosmetica 

If you are considering a panniculectomy or a tummy tuck in the Port St. Lucie area, give us a call at Cosmetica! If you’re on the fence, we can help you decide which procedure is the best for you. 

You can schedule a consultation by calling 772.337.1717, or by filling out our online form.

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